Does it make a difference? Researchers at Babson College and Western Kentucky University find that it does.
- When presented the comparison as a positive frame, shoppers tend to analyze the product features more carefully than when a negative frame is used. If your good reputation as a retailer has not been firmly established, you’re more likely to influence the shopper by using a positive instead of a negative framing.
- When presented the comparison as a negative frame rather than as a positive frame, shoppers become more likely to consider the quality of the store surroundings, how much expertise the salesperson seems to have, and how positive a mood they find themselves in. They’ll still look at the lists of features and compare the prices, but these will carry somewhat less importance when there has been negative framing.
A third alternative is to say to the consumer, “What I’m suggesting to you is just as good as the alternative you’ve been considering.” It’s not that one is better or one is worse.
Are there situations where this phrasing is best?
Yes, say researchers from Indiana University, Northwestern University, and New York University. The situations are ones where the shopper believes the decision is a risky one. With one or a combination of the following sorts of risks, the shopper wants to know that, whichever choice she makes, it’s likely to work out fine.
- Functional risk: “Will the product or service solve my problem or meet my needs effectively and efficiently?”
- Financial risk: “Am I paying too much money?”
- Time risk: “If I make this purchase, does it mean investing too much time for what I gain?”
- Physical risk: “Is my health or safety or that of those I love in danger if I use this product or service?”
- Social risk: “If the people I admire know I’m using this product or service, am I in danger of falling out of favor with them?”
- Psychological risk: “Does using this product or service conflict with the image I want to maintain of myself?”
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