Saturday, June 22, 2013

Warm Up Shoppers with Communal Norms

Store shelves and windows can signal shoppers to expect both to pay high prices for the merchandise and to receive extraordinary service. Such signals include luxury brand names on display, stylish d├ęcor, and a creative store layout. Researchers at Florida State University and Pennsylvania State University say that obvious evidence of wealth in a sales setting also can lead shoppers to conclude the retailer doesn’t have the shopper’s best interests in mind.
     It has to do with the distinction consumer psychologists make between communal and market-driven exchange norms. In a communal retailing relationship, customers feel they are paying the provider because the provider requires the income to stay in business, but the provider sincerely cares about the customer’s well-being. In an exchange relationship, payment is proportional to the stated value of the specific item. No emotional warmth is assumed.
     If you want to impress your shoppers that you care about their welfare, avoid ostentatious store displays. This is true for attorneys, dentists, and financial advisors as well as hardware stores. The dress shop appealing to a luxury market rather than a bargain market will certainly want to show off luxury items. But for a warmer relationship with repeat shoppers, eschew what would be perceived as wasteful conspicuous consumption in the store.
     Researchers at University of Colorado-Boulder, Tulane University, and University of Pennsylvania applied the communal/exchange distinction to nonprofits. Imagine the situation where a church announced they’d be outsourcing backlogged prayer requests to priests in India in order to save on operating expenses. Based on results from their studies, the researchers say consumers of the services offered by the church would be disturbed by the prayer outsourcing. Yet consumers would generally accept a bargain dress shop announcing that, in order to keep selling prices lower, the shop sells clothes produced in India.
     Or consider the retailer selling pharmaceuticals who announces special programs to allow those without adequate funds to get the drugs at a reduced fee. Most consumers would consider this to be ethical, although not surprising. On the other hand, if the dress shop said they’d charge less to the economically disadvantaged, consumers would consider this surprising. If the consumers thought other customers were being charged more as a result of this policy, they might even consider the discount pricing to be unethical.
     People expect communal ethics from churches and medical offices, while accepting market-driven ethics from commercial businesses.

Click below for more: 
Adjust Ethical Expectations to Surroundings 
Set the Moral Tone Which Fits 
Elucidate with Close Business Friends 
Use Store Windows to Build Sales 
Brag About Your Retailing Humility

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