Monday, March 27, 2017

Shape Ads for Future Use Purchases

In your advertising, use relatively pale hues to depict what you’re selling for customers’ future or long-term use. The ultimate pale hues are black and white. Ohio State University researchers say that color scheme might be the best of all for the situation.
     The rationale actually has as much to do with shapes as with colors. People considering purchase of an item are influenced by the shape and the color of depictions of the item in ads. The shape and color of illustrations of the product or of the box containing the product, of before-and-after pictures showing the benefits of product use, of text boxes in which the benefits of the service are described. When the people are thinking about use of the item in the future, the influence of shape is greater than the influence of color. Here, vibrant colors can interfere with the brain’s processing of shape, so it’s best to keep down the vibrancy.
     Once you’ve muted the hues, recognize how different shapes deliver different messages. For example, researchers at University of Miami and University of St. Gallen report that bold, solid, angular, and sharp characteristics enhance brand masculinity while airy, delicate, round, and smooth characteristics enhance brand femininity.
     In the ad itself, shoppers like balance, with elements of matching size on the left and right. But there also should be a few contrasting asymmetries with ratios which intrigue the shopper. University of British Columbia studies found that consumers in a culture that reads from left to right evaluated an antique more favorably when pictured on the left side of an ad than on the right side. With a modern art item, placement on the right side of the ad garnered more favorable ratings.
     Top and bottom matter, too. Research at York University suggests that shoppers will prefer a brand or store they see as powerful in the marketplace when the logo is placed high rather than low in the ad, while a placement low in the ad is better received when the brand or store is seen as an underdog.
     The different shapes in the ad should be seen as fitting together to constitute a group. Shoppers find visual pleasure in the repetition of themes. And there’s bonus appeal when the group of shapes represent to the consumer a familiar story. The familiarity may come from a principle of design common in the consumers’ culture.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

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Sketch Item Aesthetics If Appreciated
Smooth It with Females, Angle for Males
Overachieve as the Underdog

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Soften Customer Upset Using Friendship

An advantage available to smaller retail businesses is the enhanced opportunity to create perceptions of friendship with customers. Large retailers with headquarters at a geographical distance find it harder to maintain impressions of authentic closeness. Not all small retailers take advantage of this competitive advantage. Those who do can find that, when negatives occur, the customers are more likely to take responsibility themselves. The blame on the retailer is partially or wholly softened.
     This was seen in a University of Washington simulation of the reactions of a night club’s customers who had previously qualified for the premium level in the club’s loyalty rewards program. In the study scenario, participants were told that the required level of annual spending for premium benefits had been raised and that they were losing their premium benefits. In some cases, the customers would have fallen short even with the old limit. Their spending had gone down compared to the period in which they’d qualified. In the remainder of the cases, the expiration of benefits was because of the tighter standard. They would still have qualified under the old limit.
     The customers who felt no close relationship to the night club were more likely to blame themselves than the club for being dropped. It made no difference whether or not they would have qualified under the old standard. For the customers who felt a close relationship, it did make a difference. Those who would have qualified under the old standard blamed the club. They felt that a friend had betrayed them. Those who would not have qualified blamed themselves.
     Still, being a friend isn’t enough. Clarify expectations. Researchers at Lingnan University in Hong Kong and Chinese University of Hong Kong presented study participants with a scenario: You’ve asked the owner of a restaurant with whom you have a close business attachment to hold an ocean-view table for your birthday bash. When you arrive, the owner explains, with a tone of regret, that all the ocean-view tables are taken.
     Many of the consumers empathized with the owner. However, for others, the reaction was anger. What made the difference was whether the study participant, taking on the role of a customer, had clarified in advance their own expectations and obligations and those of the retailer. With this clarification for transactions based on close business attachments, there was more likely to be customer acceptance of the owner’s needs.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

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Puff Down for Authenticity
Clarify Expectations with Friendship Customers

Monday, March 20, 2017

Smoke Out Which Models Motivate Teens

When people yearn for something they can’t yet have, they often fantasize about having it. Featuring those fantasies in your store advertising can facilitate favorable impressions. But it could be favorable impressions of an item other than the one in the ad.
     How this operates in adolescents was explored by researchers at University of California-Irvine. Teens are more responsive to clothing ads showing teen models than those showing young adult models. But it was different with age-restricted products. The researchers created mock magazines that included cigarette ads. For some study participants, the ads featured young adult models, for another group, teen models, and for a third group, middle-aged models. After perusing the magazine, each participant was asked a number of questions, including how likely they thought it was that they’d smoke in the future.
     The participants showing the highest intent to smoke were those viewing the young adult models. This differential effect was strongest for adolescents who also had expressed dissatisfaction with their current age.
     The researchers’ advice for marketers who want to protect adolescent health: In your ads for cigarettes, feature models who are 45 years old. Study participants seeing those models were the least likely of all to say they intended to smoke.
     Better yet, I propose, is not to advertise tobacco products at all. But the underlying point is that knowing an item is forbidden to them will result in an increase in attractiveness to teens, and this happens more strongly when the teens view use of the items by those they aspire to become.
     Once they get the items, however, the struggle might lead the teens to like the items less. In a Stanford University study, the average price people who failed to obtain an item they wanted said they’d pay was 43% higher than the average willingness to pay among those who got the item. But when the jilted group were given the item later as part of this perverse experiment, they were substantially less likely to want to keep the item than were those who had received the item at the start.
     Such ill feelings even generalize. Some people were told they might win Guess brand sunglasses, then later were told supplies had run out. These frustrated folks rated Guess watches lower and a competing watch brand higher than did an equivalent set of people never promised the possibility of getting Guess sunglasses.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

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Convince Shoppers to Reach for the Stars
Notice How Teens Are Into Exclusive Resale
Accept the OOS Redirection Exception

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Experience How Experience Is Price-Quality

Many findings in shopper psychology are obtained by exposing consumers to novel situations. In applying those findings to making sales in your store, it’s important to recognize how consumers’ familiarity with the characteristics of the transaction changes the consumer’s response.
     The price-quality link is one example. Decades of research have clearly established that people purchasing a higher-priced alternative from a set with equivalent features generally expect to receive a more reliable embodiment of those features. When people buy at what they consider to be deeply discounted prices, they start out feeling the benefits are less than if they’d paid full price. They love having saved money, but as a rule, they are less in love with the item. And whenever they pay top dollar, they’re primed to believe what they’re acquiring is top quality.
     Studies at University of British Columbia and China’s Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business document that, if these anticipations are violated, the price-quality link is not so much dissolved as it is twisted. After having consumed the item, people evaluate a low-quality product with a high price more negatively than the identical low-quality product with a low price.
     Such violations are fairly common. Any consumer with a few years of purchases behind her can tell you about the high-priced national brand items she came across which were inferior to the discount-tagged house brands and the many episodes in which low-cost items included the reliability of basics not seen in the over-the-top-priced alternatives.
     When your customers come to you with the price-quality link intact, they are willing to pay you more for what they believe has higher quality. This occurs most easily with first-time purchases of the types of items behavioral economists call “experience goods” and “post-experience” goods.
     The values of experience goods are difficult for the shopper to assess until they’ve been purchased and used for a while. Unfamiliar foods, innovative tools, gym memberships, and insurance policies are experience goods. Nutritional supplements and investment portfolios are examples of what are generally considered to be post-experience goods. These are items for which it is difficult to evaluate the advantages of having made the purchase even after the use. Because of this, the influence of the price-quality link lingers long after the first-time purchase, and the effect of the link depends heavily on the consumer being convinced of the quality of the items through advertising and salesmanship.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

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Depend on Interdependency for Price-Quality
Post Dramatic Tales for Post-Experience Goods

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sidle Eyeballs for Variety Purchasing

Shoppers are attracted to stores that offer a broad variety of choices within product categories. This provides a challenge for smaller retailers, whose display spaces and inventory budgets are more limited than those of large retailers. Researchers at Ohio State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of California-Davis, and San Jose State University suggest that, to up the impression of variety, arrange alternatives horizontally rather than vertically. This works because our eyes move more smoothly from side to side than from up to down.
     The researchers found that shoppers under time pressure will perceive there’s a broader range of alternatives in a horizontal than in a vertical display. The result is a greater interest in buying one or more of the items. When the shopper’s time is not tight, a horizontal display, compared to a vertical, elicits greater amounts of browsing. For those circumstances in which a shopper could use more than one alternative from the selection, the result of the extra browsing is purchase of a larger number of items.
     All this was verified in college students pretending to be shoppers by tracking their eye movements and in mall shoppers by tracking their purchase patterns. The researchers even saw the effect work with how candy selections were made by Halloween trick-or-treaters.
     For using these findings in a retail store setting, the researchers caution about choice overload. Some years ago, studies at University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University found that expectations of large product assortments do indeed attract shoppers to a store, but once there, many of the people avoid making a purchase because they’re not sure what’s best.
     If you encounter this problem, encourage the consumer to think in more abstract ways, such as about features the items have in common rather than considering each item in the choice as unique. Similarly, researchers at University of Delaware and University of Pennsylvania discovered that a way to keep shoppers engaged is to encourage them to focus on product features rather than item alternatives. With the features in mind, the person can start rating each alternative until coming to a decision.
     So in your marketing, point out how you offer a large number of choices. When a shopper starts the shopping with you, display categories within categories to highlight the abundance of alternatives. Arrange the choices within categories horizontally instead of vertically. Then recognize the potential for choice overload.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

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Organize Shelves & Racks to Portray Variety
Abstract Shoppers to Avoid Choice Overload
Limit Variety as Shoppers Approach Goals
Adjust Assortment by Use Attractiveness
Orient Shoppers to Appreciate Discounts