Monday, July 17, 2017

Dwarf Giant Smiles So You Won’t Look Dopey

Expressions of positive emotions spread from staff to shoppers and among staff. University of Queensland researchers observed positive and negative feelings displayed by shoppers in retail environments moment-to-moment. Not only did a general emotional tone spread, but if one shopper changed from negative to positive or in the opposite direction, other shoppers tracked along with their own behavioral evidence of emotions. All this, in turn, was found to affect intentions to purchase items at the store and intentions to return to the store for future purchases.
     Thus, moving a shopper from being disgruntled to being pleased increases your profitability from that customer and also from other shoppers in the store at the time who observe the interactions. So smile often when facing visitors to your store. And smile often when building teamwork with your employees.
     Yes, there are retailing situations in which a full-toothed, full minute smile is all wrong: If a customer is distraught, and a smile would make you look uncaring. If you’re delivering corrective discipline to a staff member, and a smile would make what you’re saying seem unimportant. Or when a real big, real prolonged smile threatens to make you look simply dopey.
     Researchers at Adelphi University, University of Central Florida, Iowa State University, and University of Kansas found after a series of studies that the bigger the salesperson’s smile, the greater the consumer’s impressions of both warmth and incompetence. The probability of that second impression, certainly a negative one for retail selling potential, is greater in situations with shoppers who consider the purchase to carry risks and with shoppers who are prevention-focused rather than promotion-focused. Promotion-focused people play to win, while prevention-focused people play not to lose. At the extreme, the promotion-focused think creatively, welcome risks, and plow through issues quickly. At the other end of the dimension, the prevention-focused anticipate problems and so work meticulously to dig into issues rather than plow through them.
     The upshot: When dealing with a shopper who is nervous about a purchase decision, dwarf those big smiles so you won’t come across as unqualified to give credible advice. The researchers verified that these impressions directly influence a consumer’s willingness to spend money and time with you.
     Yet always have in mind the depth of the smile’s power. Evolutionary psychologists say we are all genetically programmed to interpret a genuine smile as a desire to build a friendly relationship.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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Infect Your Store with Enthusiasm
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Monday, July 10, 2017

Relate Biases to Gift Registrants

Gift registries are a profitable tool for retailers. People celebrating special events like a graduation, wedding, or birth of a child identify items from your store they’d like to have and then the celebrant notifies friends and family the retailer maintains the list. Those wanting to give a present know where to go, people are directed to your store, and at least in theory, the celebrants are getting the items they most want.
     Alas, researchers at Emory University and University of Texas-Austin find that the theory is flawed. In reality, the people feeling closest to the intended gift recipient are quite likely to pick items different from what the celebrants have placed on the list. The reason is that close friends and family members want to personalize the gift by selecting something to signal the nature of the relationship. 
     Gift givers are generally unaware of this bias. In the study, participants said they’d, “choose something the recipient would like,” over, “choose something that acknowledges or expresses the relationship you have with the recipient.” But although 25% of the gift selections ended up being from outside the gift registry among distant friends, the corresponding choice share among close friends was 64%. That is, only about one-third of the gift selections were from what the intended recipient said they specifically wanted. Further inquiry revealed that the divergence from the registry was because of a desire to signal the relationship.
     Where relationship signaling is especially crucial, we’d expect even more divergence. What friends and family will think about the gift is highly important to adolescents, according to researchers at Temple University, Jerusalem College of Technology, and University of Haifa. Teens usually want the gift to strengthen the relationship by showing ways in which they are similar to the gift recipient. Still, in other cases, they select a gift to carry a neutral message about the relationship.
     To improve the match between what the gift registrant lists they want and what the people buying the gift end up selecting, coach gift registrants to include items which carry relational messages. Grandma might feel best selecting a wedding present which verifies her role as the family historian. The fiancĂ©e’s older sister scans the list to find a kitchen appliance in order to subliminally say she’ll always have the younger sister’s back. Aunt Ellen picks an expensive silver set so she’ll be seen as financially supportive.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Up Yours with “Up To” Discounts

Up your sales revenues from promotional discounts by using “Up to xx% off” formats. Consumers are, by and large, an optimistic lot. If you advertise “Up to 40% off regular prices,” they’ll think the item they’re seeking will be one of those tagged for close to the full discount. You’ll attract almost as many shoppers as you would have if you’d offered the 40% cut on all the merchandise.
     Want to attract even more shoppers? Instead of “Up to 40% off,” use “Up to 39% off.” That’s right. Researchers at Indian Institute of Management find that such “just-below tensile pricing claims” (JBTPC) impress shoppers more than do the corresponding rounded offers. Plus, you could make a little more money for your store by setting the maximum discount at 39% instead of 40%.
     The reason this works has to do with how our brains handle rounded versus precise numbers. Precise numbers lead to us assuming more restricted ranges, so the consumer thinks the variation from the 39% will be smaller than the variation from the 40%. The impression is of a discount closer to the stated number, which translates to a larger discount and increased attractiveness. This is different than with item prices themselves, where 99¢ seems noticeably less than $1.00 to the consumer’s brain.
     The researchers found boundaries to the advantage of JBTPC if offering large discounts or sequential discounts. You won’t attract more shopper interest with “Up to 69% off” than with “Up to 70% off,” nor with “Up to 39% off + additional 10%” than with “Up to 40% off + additional 10%.”
     Other studies indicate more conditions on the use of tensile pricing in general. If you’ve a limited number of products for which you’re offering promotional discounts, tensile pricing will draw more customers than would ads showing the specific discounts on the limited items, according to research at Yale University, Ohio University, and University of Toronto. But if a comprehensive range of products are on sale, you’re better off stating the actual discounts for a sampling of those products than in using tensile pricing claims.
     Researchers at University of North Texas and Texas Women’s University found that tensile pricing claims are substantially less useful when marketing services than when marketing products. This is probably because with services—compared to the case with products—consumers are more likely to believe that you get what you pay for.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Empower Indirectly Using Co-creation

You increase your persuasiveness when you incorporate into what you’re offering the ideas of those you aim to persuade. A chief example of this point is that if your shoppers are invited to participate in the customization of products or services they’re considering for purchase, they become more likely to purchase those items. They’ll also like the items better after they do purchase them.
     It makes sense that people buy into what reflects their preferences. But there’s more to it. Even when the consumer for a product, service, or idea doesn’t take you up on the invitation to co-create, they’ll be more open to considering the item. Researchers at Wageningen University and InSites Consulting find that the brand image of a store improves when it gains a reputation for collaborating with customers in the design of what they sell. People who hear about it from friends become indirectly more persuadable by the retailer. They consider the store staff to be more authentic and sincere than they otherwise would.
     The type of collaboration being considered here is different from the personalization of individual items for purchase only by the co-creating consumer. Instead, this collaboration has to do with the design of and selling strategies for products and services to be offered by the retailer to an entire target audience.
     Empowerment is included in the explanation of why an invitation to co-produce impresses those who do so plus those who have only learned about it but did not participate. Knowing we have the choice of being asked to be listened to gives us a sense of power, we enjoy the feeling, and we consequently like to continue interacting with those who help us feel that way.
     In exploring this same issue, researchers at Aarhus University and Bocconi University point out that two conditions are necessary for the consumers who do the co-creation to experience the empowerment which leads to increased purchase potential: First, the consumers must believe they have sufficient expertise to make good suggestions. Second, they must see clear evidence that their suggestions have been used.
     Invite your target consumers to participate in the design of products they buy from you, the delivery of services, and the layout of environments in which they shop. Invite those others you are wanting to persuade to collaborate with you in forming opinions and developing influential arguments to convince people those opinions are correct.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Salt Shoppers’ Truth with Conviction

One spring afternoon during my sixth year of life while I was playing outside my Uncle Jack’s house, I saw a strikingly attractive bird. My desire to have that bird as a pet so I could look at it whenever I chose appeared as quickly and strongly as if I’d just spotted a must-have toy at the store. At dinnertime, after I told my uncle about my wish, he said, “Well, you can capture the bird if you can put salt on its tail.”
     My Uncle Jack didn’t smile when he said that, so I wasn’t really sure whether he was kidding me. Still, I realized my Uncle Jack rarely smiled. He was a caring, yet gruff, lawyer who advocated aggressively for clients my uncle believed and felt had been wronged by society. Not that his beliefs and feelings were always in accord. My Uncle Jack loved to watch professional wrestling, vigorously cheering the matches on TV. He was especially taken with Gorgeous George, whose effeminate antics and credo of “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!” drew crowds who relished booing him.
     When I was older, I recognized how my uncle believed the professional wrestling matches were staged, but got joy from feeling they were genuine. It’s a phenomenon called kayfabe. Every theatrical production, World Wrestling Entertainment match and beyond, depends for success on presenting something the consumer would believe is fake if analyzing it, while signing on to the agreement to feel what’s seen and heard is genuine. Decades after Gorgeous George, comedian Stephen Colbert referred to this phenomenon in political discourse as truthiness.
     To the degree that retailing is theatre, let’s recognize how feelings can trump beliefs as a shopper is deciding whether and what to purchase. We’ve no interest in defrauding consumers, so it’s essential our conviction is justified when making recommendations. Actually, that conviction is also essential in maintaining a phenomenon like kayfabe. The wrestlers in the ring and the actors on the stage or screen must behave as though they really feel it themselves.
     So I figure my uncle was justified in not smiling when responding to my dinnertime wish. The suggestion he gave me was accurate, even if not in the way I initially understood. If you get close enough to a bird to put salt on its tail, you certainly can capture it. Simply grab the creature.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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