Sunday, December 2, 2012

Give Shoppers Reason to Believe

People anxious to complete a purchase welcome evidence you give them that they’re making a good decision, even if the evidence you provide is objectively irrelevant to the decision.
     Researchers at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand presented study participants with declarative statements like, “Giraffes are the only mammals that cannot jump” and “Turtles are deaf.” These statements were chosen because most people are unsure of their truth. The purchase decision in the study was not for merchandise, but instead for a belief.
     Those participants shown a photo of a giraffe along with the statement were more likely to say it was true than were the participants shown only the statement. Similarly, a photo of a turtle injected credibility into the “Turtles are deaf” statement.
     This phenomenon is not limited to people who know little about a topic. A past research study found that when neurological conclusions are presented to brain scientists, those scientists also shown brain scan photos attributed more credibility, on average, to the neurological conclusions. Yet the photos were not at all objectively related to what was said to the brain scientists about the neurological conclusions.
     In my opinion, an important factor in these studies was the use of photos rather than artistic illustrations. Photos come across as more realistic. Drawings might imply subjectivity, which would make the claim less believable. Brief text did show the effect, though. In related studies exploring the believability of claims about lesser-known celebrities, a verbal description of the person resulted in greater agreement with claims made about the person.
     Based on their findings, the Wellington researchers say that showing a photo of a smiling person holding a product you sell makes it more likely consumers viewing the photo would believe a claim, “This product is easy to use.” So would a paragraph of text describing how the product was manufactured. Neither the photo nor the paragraph need to relate directly to ease of use.
     The phenomenon is also seen in how consumers who are expert in a product category handle technical specifications when making purchase decisions in that category. Experts ask for the specifications, but mostly want to know the answers so they can justify to themselves and others that they’ve made the right choices. University of Pittsburgh and University of South Carolina researchers say experts are notoriously complacent about using the technical information before choosing what they’ll purchase.

Click below for more: 
Embrace Shopper Expertise 
Relax Guardedness with Gricean Norms

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