Thursday, January 18, 2018

Keep Senior Shoppers From Worst Impulses

Researchers at University of Stuttgart in reviewing forty-five years of research about how older people make purchase decisions see an excess of impulse. It has to do with the trouble the aged brain often has in filtering out irrelevant signals and in keeping focus. Therefore, the impulse buying is more likely to occur with merchandise, packages, and shelves featuring bright colors, animation, or abundance. Seeing other shoppers getting excited about a deep promotional discount can set off the senior purchasing merchandise or services they don’t need at all.
     Compared to younger shoppers, the seniors spend less time and attention on gathering detailed information before purchase. This doesn’t mean they’re more likely to regret their purchases later. In fact, they are less likely to complain and more likely to accentuate the positives after making a bad decision. Even when dissatisfied, they tend to return to the same set of merchants and shop for the same brands because familiarity has appeal and because memory is often flawed. The researchers found that habits are so strong that when there is evidence of harm from a product, senior shoppers usually have to be assertively steered away from repeat purchases.
     To responsibly keep senior shoppers from their worst impulses:
  • Encourage seniors to shop with companions. The socialization slows down the decision making and allows the others to warn the shoppers. Even when the companions are themselves all elderly, the group members might compensate for each other’s impairments. 
  • Help seniors stay away from crowds. While a small group of companions is helpful, a large congregation is stressful. The anxiety triggers impulsive decisions. One reason seniors prefer shopping early in the day is to avoid crowds and avoid feeling crowded. If it doesn’t work for you to have seniors come at morning hours, set up attractions such as senior discount days for times less popular with younger shoppers. 
  • Allow for reflection. Without challenging or belittling senior shoppers, ask them to tell you their reasons for selecting an item you suspect is an impulse purchase. And as long as your business success allows for it, maintain liberal return policies. 
     To be sure, with many seniors, there are forces that make impulse purchasing unlikely. Older people have less need to buy because of social conformity, for example. When you’re 95 years old, let’s say, you’ve little reason to worry about peer pressure. There aren’t that many peers around.

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

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Help Seniors to Shop Early
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Monday, January 15, 2018

Wash Away Your Greenwash Products

Consumers expect to pay a premium for products with the sensitivity to environmental impacts which qualifies the products to be called green. But Drexel University researchers saw consumers in their studies get mighty irritated when the consumers came to realize products were actually greenwashed instead of green. Remove such merchandise from your shelves and racks.
     Greenwashed items are those touting green characteristics while having what turn out to be only trivial modifications in the direction of environmental sensitivity. Examples the researchers found include a shampoo promoted as “crafted with bio-renew” that had a natural sugar added, but no chemicals removed; diapers advertised as “pure and natural” which used organic cotton in the outer shell, but the conventional diaper materials in the surfaces contacting the baby; and a printer calling itself eco-friendly, when the only difference from usual printers was use of a thermal printing method.
     Offering products that deserve to be called green is good. A University of Indiana analysis of 75 product introductions indicated green claims improve the attractiveness of offerings and of the stores carrying them. This doesn’t uniformly equate to increased purchases of those products, though. Increased profitability often comes from purchases of items not carrying the organic designation. The presence of socially conscious products makes it more likely the customer will purchase products that do not embody social consciousness. It’s as if having chosen the store is enough to satisfy the values.
     Studies at City University of New York, Loyola College, and Duke University suggest that even when this sort of thing doesn’t occur within the same shopping trip, it can occur over subsequent shopping trips. That is, if someone purchases a socially conscious item on this trip, they become more likely to purchase next time an item which shows little attention to social consciousness.
     Consumers who favor organic products think of themselves as being environmentally conscientious, and this leads to another indirect explanation for the increased profitability from organic items. The explanation applies to categories like cleaning products. Studies at Central Michigan University and National Dong Hwa University found that consumers believe green products are less effective than others. Therefore, they use more of them for the equivalent task, resulting in larger buys.
     Greenwashed products fail on both sides. Those willing to pay more to use the products won’t buy the greenwashed. Those not willing to pay more lose trust in your business ethics.

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

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Stay Dead-On in Dealing Death for Seniors

Upon its release, the Pixar animated movie “Coco” was praised as a realistic depiction of feelings about death in the traditional Mexican culture. There, death is accepted as familiar, routine, even celebrated as in the Día de los Muertos holiday. By contrast, death is typically feared in other developed countries’ cultures. An exception is among seniors, who generally carry a more accepting perspective on the looming reality.
     The characteristics of what Brooklyn College researchers call a “good death” increase the acceptance and therefore indicate benefits points for those offering services concerned with end-of-life:
  • Attention to individual preferences. Most seniors prefer to die at home but there are those who would rather be in a nursing facility where pain relief is readily available. Most seniors want to be surrounded by family and friends at the time of passing, but there are those who say they’d prefer the peacefulness of having only a few others, or perhaps solitude. 
  • Tying it together. When contemplating their mortality, seniors are motivated to complete unfinished business in their lives and talk with others about the meaning their lives have had. As death seems closer, seniors’ interest in spiritual counseling often grows. 
  • Consideration for those being left. In general, women show more concern than men about the consequences of their death on loved ones and on caregivers, including the medical personnel. Men and women alike want to have in place arrangements for finances and the disposition of possessions. 
     In consumers of all ages, thoughts about death influence purchasing and donating behavior, so these effects may be seen to a greater or lesser extent in senior citizen shoppers. Researchers at Chinese University of Hong Kong and Shanghai Jiao Tong University found that stimulating awareness of mortality increases receptiveness to bandwagon charity appeals. Bandwagon appeals ask for contributions on the basis that others already donated. The researchers contrasted this with need appeals, in which the request is based on the deprivations which would be eased by a contribution.
     A group of college students were asked to “briefly describe the emotions that thoughts of your own death arouse in you.” Another group were instead asked to describe emotions and thoughts related to dental pain. Of those study participants in the first group, 67% were influenced by a bandwagon appeal, while only 23% were by a need appeal. In the dental pain group, the respective percentages were 20% and 50%.

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

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Monday, January 8, 2018

Anticipate Aesthetics Avoidance

Retail consultant Paco Underhill told a story about an unexpected problem occurring at an Einstein Bros. Bagels store in Utah: The bags of bagel chips were being shelved with such precision that customers hesitated touching the bags, let alone buying a bag. To disturb the configuration would disrespect the aesthetics, the shoppers seemed to be thinking. The solution? Instructing store staff to regularly check that the bags were sufficiently disarrayed.
     Researchers at Arizona State University and Duke University attribute such hesitations to people not wanting to make a beautiful item or arrangement look less beautiful by using it or selecting from it. The researchers documented these effects in studies comparing a cupcake with smooth frosting against a cupcake with frosting in the shape of a rose blossom, an undecorated napkin against a napkin with a floral design, and even plain white toilet paper versus white toilet paper featuring festive motifs.
     Generally, consumers were relatively less interested in using the aesthetically pleasing items and expressed greater discomfort about the consumption they did complete. There were exceptions to this general finding. Shoppers who have less appreciation for aesthetics or don’t associate superb design with extraordinary effort will be less concerned about the disruptions from purchase and use.
     For circumstances where your shoppers do seem hesitant to buy high aesthetic items, consumables or not, consider using one or more of these research-based tactics:
  • Sand castles. The beautifully designed sand castle is expected to draw awe and then to deteriorate. Give shoppers permission to deface the item after honoring the aesthetics. Point out how the item would deteriorate anyway if not used. 
  • Limited editions. Present the item as being more like one of a restricted set of prints than like a unique original painting. Have more than one copy so evidence of the artistry is not destroyed forever. This reduces concerns that consuming the item dishonors effort exerted during item design and physical production. 
  • Souvenirs. Have versions of the item that are not so intricately decorated which can be used to stimulate memories of the unpurchased artistic rendering. If the consumable is not likely to deteriorate with time, invite purchase of both the beautifully designed version and a version containing the same ingredients, but with a functional format. 
     Aesthetics in store design, package design, and item design all draw positive attention from shoppers. But sidestep your shoppers saying, “It’s too beautiful to use.”

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

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Blend Culture into Senior Selling

The culture with which a senior citizen identifies will affect that person’s consumption habits. Researchers at Chinese University of Hong Kong conducted a number of studies and reviewed studies done by others to show where the differential influences exist. When it comes to comparing North American culture with Asian culture identifications, a prime point is balance. Asian cultures place more importance on balance than do American-European cultures, and the effects on consumer preferences seem to become greater as the person ages.
     Consider the positivity bias—the tendency of seniors to attend more to upsides and put a happy edge on sadness and fear. This bias is seen in Asian as well as North American seniors. However, Asian seniors are more likely than the Americans to additionally contemplate the negatives.
     Two forces drive this. First is interdependency, which Asian cultures emphasize. Older Chinese consumers were shown a video clip with positive images on one side of the screen and negative images on the other side. Those participants who had expressed the typical cultural perspectives of mutual dependence on and responsibility for others looked at both the positive and negative images. But the participants who were lower in interdependence looked much less at the negative images than did younger consumers exposed to the same task. This is similar to what’s seen with American seniors.
     The other force operating in Asian cultures is the yin-yang—a view of the world in terms of balancing cycles. Researchers from New York University-Stern and Princeton University asked study participants to allocate $1,000 across a selection of stocks with varying past performance. The European-American participants were more likely than the Chinese participants to put the money into stocks which had previously shown uniform growth. The Chinese participants were more likely to invest in ambiguously-performing stocks, anticipating that a balance would lead to an uptick in the stock value for any prior underperformance. The participants in that study weren’t seniors, and there’s evidence the differences would become even somewhat greater in the aged.
     Elderly consumers whose backgrounds include identification with collectivist cultures are more likely to embrace social responsibility than those who identify with individualist cultures. Collectivist cultures include many Asian and Pacific Island areas, Greece, and Portugal. Individualistic cultures include the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands. Consumers identifying with individualistic cultures also welcome innovations more than do consumers who identify with collectivist cultures.

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

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