Monday, December 15, 2014

Dimension Your Approach to Customer Culture

In 1980, social psychologist Geert Hofstede began publishing analyses of consumer cultures, based upon responses to more than 100,000 surveys he administered in dozens of countries. Over succeeding years, his conclusions have provided guidance for retailers wanting to sell to shoppers raised under different values systems.
     Prof. Hofstede said that four major dimensions distinguish cultures:
  • Power distance. “Power” refers to the degree of influence people have over others. “Distance belief” refers to the degree to which a consumer accepts there are wide differences in the amount of power possessed by people the consumer knows about. When a shopper believes that there are broad differences in the distribution of power, they become less likely to impulsively purchase products like candy bars. These are the sorts of products others might criticize, and the shoppers yield to the assumed power of others. This doesn’t hold true with impulsive purchases of granola bars, which could be viewed as healthy rather than indulgent. 
  • Uncertainty avoidance. Some cultures avoid ambiguity, while others embrace it, and most are somewhere in-between. Superstitions are especially likely to influence consumers who avoid uncertainty. Differentiate between consumers who do things like carry good luck charms and those who believe in the power of fate or karma regardless of what lucky charms they're packing. For those who respect karma, show extra perseverance in resolving service complaints. The other type of superstitious consumer will become a fan if you pair positive shopping experiences with a reminder tchotchke, like a small item carrying your store logo. 
  • Masculinity/femininity. For shoppers from cultures enforcing strict distinctions among sex roles, pay attention to who does what in the purchase. There are broad individual differences among male shoppers and among female shoppers, but overall, men shoppers are more purpose-driven, while women are more possibilities-driven. 
  • Individualism/collectivism. Consumers with backgrounds in collectivist cultures, like those in many Asian and Pacific Island areas, Greece, and Portugal, are more likely to embrace social responsibility than those who identify with individualist cultures such as America, Great Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands. People who identify with individualistic cultures welcome more rapid changes than do consumers who identify with collectivist cultures. 
     A recent statistically sophisticated study across 36 countries by researchers at California State University-Northridge, University of Cincinnati, and University of Washington concludes that the last of the four dimensions—individualism/collectivism—has an effect 71% greater on customer relationship marketing than the other three.

Click below for more: 
Yield to Power Distance Belief 
Ease On Through Election Uncertainty 
Trace Who Does What in the Purchase 
Cultivate Controversy Carefully 
Sell Product Families 
Change Up How You Do Business 
Reassure Stay-At-Home Dads 
Secret the Customer’s Confidences 
Cross Channels with Market Mavens

Monday, December 8, 2014

Absolve Maximizers of Solely Absolutes

Consumer psychologists distinguish between “maximizers,” who want to choose the best possible alternative, and “satisficers,” who are pleased to settle for what’s good enough. Wise retailers also make this distinction, since it determines how to make the sale. Moreover, wise retailers realize the distinction isn’t always straightforward. Maximizers are usually willing to pay more money than satisficers and to spend more time deciding. But some maximizers are bargain hunters, searching for a deal on the very best. Other maximizers are happy to pay top dollar if they can depend on a trusted salesperson to quickly point them toward perfection.
     Researchers at Virginia Tech and University of Michigan showed that another complication arises from how maximizers define “the very best.” One group of shoppers were asked to express their degree of preference for an item rated 60 on a 100-point scale when all the available alternatives are rated at no higher than 50. For another group of shoppers, the focus item was rated at 80 and the alternatives topped out at a rating of 95.
     It might seem that the maximizers in the “80 versus 95” group would express a stronger preference for their focus item than did the maximizers in the “60 versus 50” group. But it turned out the other way around. Maximizers pay attention to relative ratings in addition to absolute ratings.
     Maximizers are perfectionist shoppers, and perfectionist shoppers are a nuisance for retailers. They can consume an abundance of your time to conclude a sale and then might return an item or resist paying for a service because their unrealistic expectations were not fulfilled.
     There’s a large genetic component in perfectionism. A person’s environment—the strictness of a parent’s standards, the reactions of bosses to errors on the job—shape the personality trait. But a larger determination comes from what you’re born with. When considering a purchase, people will gather information until they reach a point where the effort to gather more information isn’t worth it to them because of the weight of evidence they’ve already gathered. For maximizers, this balance point is substantially higher than it is for satisficers. When you’re selling to a family of maximizers, be ready to keep feeding more information and to host a series of visits to the store.
     Because of the genetic component, perfectionism is challenging to change. Work around perfectionism by how you present comparison choices to maximizers.

Click below for more: 
Perfect Your Salesmanship for Perfectionists 
Attend to Genetic Influences in Selling 
De-Stress from the Distress of Perfectionism

Monday, December 1, 2014

Stimulate Innovation via Single Units Now

Want shoppers to try out a new brand? Offer single-unit instead of multiple-unit packages of all items in that product category. For instance, the customer who buys the double-pack of their favorite mouthwash is less likely to also buy a heavily-discounted new brand than the customer who buys the single pack.
     “Well, of course,” you might say. If you’ve bought two bottles, you’ve got yourself covered—and feel less need to keep your mouth covered—for a longer time into the future. Why spend money on an additional bottle?
     But that’s not the whole explanation. Researchers at Northwestern University, INSEAD-Singapore, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, and Fundação Getúlio Vargas offered study participants a choice of two cans of soda. For some, the participant was asked to select either a Coke or a Sprite, and then asked to choose an additional can of either Coke or Sprite. The other participants were invited to choose once from two-can packages—either a Coke/Coke, Sprite/Sprite, or Coke/Sprite. Those choosing one at a time were twice as likely to select one of each brand than those who selected the two-pack. They were more open to innovating, even among those participants who said they liked one of the two brands more than the other.
     When you base your store practices on consumer psychology findings, you’ve the advantage of knowing why it works instead of only what works. That allows you to sidestep misapplication of your successes. You see, when the choice of a set is spread over time, it’s the multiple-unit alternative which produces more variety-seeking..
     Carnegie Mellon University students were offered a bonus treat in their economics or history class: They could select snacks to be given to them at the end of three successive class sessions. The choices included Snickers bars, Oreo cookies, milk chocolate with almonds, tortilla chips, peanuts, and cheese-peanut butter crackers.
     Half the number of participants were invited to choose one item on each of the three weeks. At each session, they weren’t told if there would be additional opportunities to choose in future classes. The other participants were told that in the first class session they were to select the treat they wanted for each of three classes in advance.
     In the one-at-a-time, single-unit group, only 8% chose three different items. Among those selecting three items as a bundle, 45% went for three different items.
     These consumers feared boredom.
Click below for more: 
See Through Consumers’ Boredom Fears 
Bundle Expensive & Cheap Synergistically 
Increase Purchase Quantities with Discounts
Encourage Customers to Be Innovative
Limit Variety as Shoppers Approach Goals

Monday, November 24, 2014

Eclipse Celebrity Endorsers Who Moon

One meaning of the word “eclipse” is to make something less important or popular. I’ll use the word in that sense when pointing out how having a celebrity endorser who pulls down their pants in order to moon the crowd—or does something else scandalous—can hurt your store image. You’ll want to dissociate yourself from such behavior and such celebrities.
     Research findings from University of Technology-Sydney, HEC Montréal, and Avon Canada Inc. document the extent of possible damage: A scandal involving a celebrity endorser for a store competing with yours in a similar market can have carryover effects to your store. This argues for communities of merchants encouraging each other to exercise caution when selecting celebrity endorsers. It can be better to develop your store staff as endorsers or, if you want sports celebrity, to have a team rather than an individual.
     There’s an important exception in all this: The ability of the celebrity to violate expectations might be what shoppers consider to be attractive. This argues for using edgy celebrities and for featuring the edginess in ads.
     Another meaning of “eclipse” is to emphasize one thing at the expense of another. I’ve that meaning in mind when talking about a research study from University of Adelaide and Macquarie University. The danger of celebrity endorsements pointed out in these studies is when your audience will be so taken with the celebrity, they’ll forget about who the endorsement is for.
     The researchers found that when viewers of an ad knew the celebrity well and felt an attachment, there was little chance the celebrity would eclipse the brand. However, with lesser-known celebrities—who might be used by small to midsize retailers because of the lower endorsement fees—it’s important to keep the major emphasis on your store brand.
     Attract attention with the celebrity, show how what the celebrity says is logically linked to the benefits of shopping with you, and then stay with talking about your store for the rest of the ad. Research finds that celebrity ads are weaker if you start by showing the brand and end by showing the celebrity.
     The degree of danger with this one depends on the fit between the personality of your store and the personality of the celebrity. If the fit is very high, the danger grows. It also grows with a low fit, since the incongruity draws attention toward the endorser.

Click below for more: 
Select Celebrity Endorsers Who Fit 
Take Stock of Celebrity Endorsement Value 
Tease with Incongruities 
Get Endorsements from Groups 
Prepare Your Staff to Endorse Products

Monday, November 17, 2014

Modify Feature/Feasibility Mix to Match Mood

A happy, confident shopper behaves differently from a sad, confused shopper. That fact was shown in a research study based at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Chinese University of Hong Kong, a study which refined a classic finding in consumer psychology.
     The classic finding is that when people are shopping for items to be used some time from now, they'll pay special attention to the number and distinctiveness of the items’ features. But when consumers plan to put the item to work soon, they're especially interested in ease of use.
     This newer research concludes that how this operates depends on the shopper’s mood. If the shopper’s objective is to make a carefully considered purchase decision, the classic finding holds more strongly for happy shoppers than for sad shoppers. However, if the shopper’s objective is to make a quick decision, the classic finding holds more strongly for sad than for happy shoppers.
     Other researchers looking at this issue suggest that with high-confidence shoppers, you describe the overall and longer-term benefits of the product or service you’d like the shopper to buy. If it’s a health club membership, these high-level benefits could include the possibilities of a longer life and relief from physical pain. By contrast, with low-confidence shoppers, the benefits of interest could center on items like the ease of getting to the health club.
     For a product like a big screen TV, the high-level benefits could be the ability of the family to enjoy programs together, while the low-level benefits could be the ease of operation.
     In some cases, you can guess how soon a shopper plans to start using the purchase. Certain items are likely to be last-minute searches. Floral bouquets and hot water heaters come to mind. With these, you don't need to depend on sales staff contact to get the message across. In your advertising and signage, you could feature ease of delivery, ease of installation, ease of learning, and other angles on ease of use.
     With other purchases, it pays to ask shoppers how soon they plan to start using what they’re considering. Knowing this allows you to present the most compelling balance between desirability and feasibility benefits, between the emotional appeal and the objective assessment. You don't have time to tell the prospect everything. Home in on what will make a sale which benefits both the purchaser and your bottom line.

Click below for more: 
Satisfy Sad Shoppers with Prompt Rewards 
Accent the Emotions when Imminent Usage 
Present High-Level Benefits to the Confident 
Inject Distance for Price-Quality Link 
Shorten the Term of Retail Therapy 
Emphasize the Price to Spotlight Functionality