Monday, May 2, 2011

Build on Couples’ Decision-Making Rituals

When a married couple make a purchase decision together, they are either developing or following rituals. By building on those rituals, you can guide the couple’s preferences.
     The newly married may have already set up housekeeping and therefore made many shopping decisions together already. However, shopping after the ceremony brings out different power dynamics. Both the man and the woman are each subconsciously influenced by how their respective mom and dad handled the decisions. The challenge for the retail salesperson is to track the ritual, which is still in a formative stage.
     The long-married couple have settled into their shopping-together rituals. Here, the challenge for the retail salesperson might come from the ritual being so automatic and quick for the couple that it is hard to discern.
     A set of classic cross-national studies by researchers at University of Chicago and Belgium’s Catholic Universities of Louvain and Mons concluded that the relative dominance of husband and wife depends on the type of product or service being considered when the couple shop together:
  • Husband-dominant: Lawn mowers, hardware
  • Wife-dominant: Children’s clothing, women’s clothing, groceries, toiletries
  • Shared dominance: Cars, refrigerators, televisions, living room furniture, financial planning services, vacations
     Subsequent research described how these overall patterns differ by cultural background. Mexican-American couples are more likely than others to have husband-dominant patterns, while African-Americans are more likely to have wife-dominant patterns.
     Even when there is shared dominance, the husband’s and wife’s decision making styles differ within the couple. While making the decision, the man’s objectives are underpinned by a desire to ensure his individual specifications are met, while the woman’s objectives are underpinned by a desire to have the shared specifications of the couple met.
     Very frequently, married couples aim to balance out their shopping tendencies. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University provide intriguing evidence that tightwads—who recognize they should be more willing to spend money—tend to marry spendthrifts—who recognize they should be more cautious in spending money. Rather than viewing such couples as having opposite attitudes, view them as having complementary approaches. They married each other to help moderate the extremes. When making a sale, give them sufficient time to work their magic with each other.
     All these are overall tendencies, of course, and so differ among individual couples. Still, by remembering the tendencies, you’ve a starting point for identifying and building on the rituals.

Click below for more:
Identify Influencers in Family Decision Making

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