Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Help Powerful Shoppers Attend to Good Advice

It might seem you’d want to always make shoppers feel powerful, since powerful shoppers tend to spend more on purchases for themselves, according to Northwestern University research. However, recent studies at University of Calgary and University of Texas-Arlington find that a potential downside for the retailer of increasing a consumer’s sense of power is that the consumer thereby becomes more resistant to following social influences like purchase recommendations from friends. You’d prefer your shoppers to be attending to good advice given by others.
     The mechanism of action for the resistance depends on the level of certainty with which the consumer holds opinions of a retailer and of the retailer’s offerings. With high attitude certainty, people who feel powerful will decide that others who disagree with them don’t have sufficient expertise to deserve consideration. If you encounter this situation with a shopper and find it best to have the shopper listen to the others, start by acknowledging both the individual’s power and expertise. Then ask them to again evaluate what others are saying. Evidence is that your acknowledgements will increase the shopper’s receptivity to others’ recommendations.
     On the other hand, when consumers feeling powerful have relatively low confidence in their own opinions about your store or the products or services you sell, the Calgary/Texas research indicates the consumers will consciously react against others’ recommendations in order to signal their distinction from potential followers. To sidestep this one, offer sufficient variations of what you sell so that the customer can still get what’s best while maintaining distinctiveness.
     Or you could decide to make the consumers feel less powerful. Research finds that this tends to increase the amounts spent on purchases intended for others.
     Participants in a study at Northwestern University placed bids on items like a T-shirt and a mug. The participants had been exposed to a manipulation to influence the sense of power. Some of the study participants were asked to imagine an actual episode in the past when they possessed high power in a situation. The others were asked to imagine an actual episode in which they experienced little power.
     When purchasing the item for themselves, those feeling greater power bid about 86% more for an item, on average, than those feeling lower power.
     When purchasing the item for someone else, those feeling less powerful bid about 52% more for an item, on average, than those feeling higher power.

Click below for more: 
Manipulate the Shopper’s Sense of Power
Unbox the Resistant Customer
Offer Variations to Ease Fear of Conformity 
Build Buzz with Market Mavens

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