Sunday, June 26, 2011

Update Keeping Up with the Joneses

Over the entire history of retailing, a powerful selling message has been, “Others have this product, so why not you?” A comic strip premiering in 1913 titled “Keeping Up with the Joneses” gave a name to this consumer drive.
     If you’re to put this tactic to use, you’ll need to know who the Joneses are for a particular shopper. Or to use more modern vernacular, who, by being the competition, will serve as your reference point for convincing the shopper to start jonesing for the item you’re wanting to sell them.
     The identity of the competition is changed by circumstances in ways you might not expect:
  • Researchers at University of Minnesota find that during the time of month a young woman is ovulating, she becomes substantially more likely to choose sexier clothing, shoes, fashion accessories, and cosmetics to buy and wear. This drive is much higher when the woman is shown photos of attractive women identified as being from her city than when shown the same photos and told the women live 1,000 miles away. A woman is not seen as relevant competition when she lives far away. The message for retailers is to describe the Joneses as being nearby.
  • Researchers at University of Maryland-College Park and Georgetown University found that young consumers’ motivation to try out a new video game faded when the consumers were led to believe that they played video games less often than most others did. The message here: Start by asking the shopper how often they think they’ll be using a product like the one they’re considering. Then choose as the Joneses others who use the product at a somewhat, but not substantially, greater frequency.
     Retailers using “keeping up with Joneses” selling techniques should take care not to exploit their customers. The drive is powerful enough to cause people to make unwise purchases.
     The danger of exploitation is greatest with families of limited means. Many consumer behavior studies have found how poor shoppers actually spend a greater percentage of their family budget on status-appeal products and services than do richer shoppers. Research findings from Erasmus University in the Netherlands and INSEAD-Fontainebleau suggest a way to decrease the destructive drive: Point out ways in which these shoppers do not need to compete for status with others.
     Then open these poorer shoppers to purchases they can make from you carrying more substantial value for their family.

Click below for more:
Anchor Frequency Estimates to Individuals
Merchandise to Fit Purchasing Cycles
Strengthen Your Barbell Retailing

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