Friday, October 21, 2011

Slow Down on Intrusive Sloganeering

As we move into the full court press of political campaigning, and as the press fully courts sound bites from candidates, prepare for sloganeering. For Barack Obama in 2008, it was “Yes We Can!.” For Ross Perot in 1992, it was “Ross for Boss.”
     The effectiveness of political slogans follows the rules of consumer psychology. For example, research finds that rhyming slogans are memorable. But a memorable slogan doesn’t guarantee making the sale. Ross did not get to be America’s boss.
     The same goes for store slogans. In fact, a powerful slogan sometimes causes consumers to do the opposite of what the retailer intended.
     Researchers at University of Miami, University of California-Berkeley, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology presented people with a slogan designed to free up spending: “Luxury. You deserve it.” The researchers compared the effects against that from exposure to a spending-neutral slogan: “Time is what you make of it.”
     Those exposed to the luxury slogan decided to spend 26% less than those exposed to the neutral slogan. They rebelled against the intrusive urging in the slogan.
     Does it work in the opposite direction? Yes. People exposed to “Dress for less” decided to spend 29% more than a matching group primed with the neutral slogan.
     So suppose I ask your shoppers to think about the slogan “Save money. Live better,” and then the slogan, “The good life at a great price.” You might recognize that the first of those slogans has been used by Walmart, and the second one by Sears. Both store names are associated with thriftiness. But I’m asking your shoppers to think about the slogans, not the store names.
     The Miami/Berkeley/Hong Kong team found that thinking about either of those slogans increases the amount of money people are willing to spend during a shopping trip. In fact, the amount was twice as much after thinking about the slogan than after thinking about the store name. With the store name, the average amount study participants were willing to spend was $94. With the slogan, it was $184.
     Maybe the lesson for retailers is to put the message in the store name. Ross Perot wasn’t a winner, but California-based Ross Stores seem to be operating quite well under the name Ross Dress for Less. For the first half of 2011, earnings per share were up 23% over those for the first half of 2010.

Click below for more:
React When Faced with Reactance
Give Shoppers Permission to Spend More

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