Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Resist Contaminating with Residue Sensitivity

Retailers of second-hand merchandise often find a sales appeal arises from tales about the previous owner. However, researchers at University of Texas-San Antonio find that for one category of shoppers, you’ll do best to downplay the specifics in those tales. This category shows a personality trait the researchers call “residue sensitivity.” These shoppers overlook the interesting backstory and instead perseverate about the possibility that a negative essence might be lingering on the object. Not germs, necessarily. An ethereal essence.
     You can’t see the essence, retailer, but stay alert for the shopper’s concern.
     Actually, although the impact of essence is acute with consumers showing high residue sensitivity, it occurs with most all shoppers, and often in a positive way.
     Why would somebody pay £78,000—about $122,000 in the U.S.—for a dress designed by a woman who had worked in an aquarium? The answer is that the dress was worn by Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William.
     In year 2004, an eBay buyer dropped more than $15,000 for a gob of gum chewed by Britney Spears. Somebody paid $48,875 for Jackie Kennedy’s tape measure, and convicted swindler Bernie Madoff’s blue Mets jacket, looking very much the same as many other blue Mets jackets, sold for $14,500.
     Researchers at Yale University and Israel’s Bar-Ilan University explored the shopper psychology behind the phenomenon. They asked study participants how much they’d like to own specified common artifacts like clothing and furniture which had previously been used by celebrities or non-celebrities. Some of the celebrity names were well-regarded. George Clooney, for instance. Others had a negative reputation. Saddam Hussein, for example.
     As expected, participants assigned higher value to celebrity-associated items. When the association was with a well-regarded name, the consumers’ explanation was prestige by physical association. The consumers felt they could actually absorb some of the remnants of the original owner. The study participants said that if the item had been thoroughly cleaned, it was nowhere near as valuable to them. On the other hand, if purchase of the item was with a condition it could not be resold, this didn’t decrease the attractiveness much at all.
     With the negatively regarded celebrities, like Madoff and Hussein, the effect was reversed. Sterilization of the item before purchase was all to the good. But prohibitions on resale dramatically decreased the valuation by the consumers in the study. Here the purchase was being made as an investment.

Click below for more: 
Back the Appeal with a Backstory 
Protect Against Contamination Feelings 
Celebrate the Celebrity Appeal

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