Monday, August 19, 2013

Aim Away from Shame

It’s better to make consumers feel guilty than ashamed. What’s the difference? Well, for distinction in definition:
  • With guilt, the consumers acknowledge they’ve done something wrong or failed to do something right 
  • With shame, the added element is that the consumers believe that others hold them responsible 
     For distinction in consumer reactions, researchers at RTI International in San Francisco, George Washington University, and University of Pennsylvania, induced study participants to experience either guilt or shame at failing to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Compared to those induced to feel guilty, these potential consumers of health services induced to feel ashamed were more likely to express anger. They were irritated at what they perceived as efforts to manipulate them. Shame backfired.
     So let’s say you’re a local retailer. You’ve operated your business in the community for a long time. Almost all your employees live in the local area. They spend most of their paychecks and you spend most of your business profits locally rather than sending the money off to some distant corporate headquarters.
     Next, let’s say a Big Box has opened a few towns away. Being a wise retailer, you take a trip to the Big Box to look over this new supersize competition. And as you’re walking through the store, you see right there in the main aisle one of your longtime customers pushing a shopping cart filled with the sorts of items you sell in your store.
     Along with you recognizing him, he sees you and immediately takes on this embarrassed, sheepish appearance. Eyes looking down and shifting side to side. Shoulders slumped forward. A forced smile. He says hello.
     Your move. Do you assume that, like you, your customer is giving the Big Box a look-see. You say, “What do you think of this new store? I came over to check it out, too.” Or do you opt for shame? “How could you ever want to spend your money here at this Big Box when you should be spending your money and your time with a local retailer?”
     Adults in individually oriented cultures, like the U.S., UK, and Australia are especially likely to bristle at efforts to arouse shame. “Aim to shame me about shopping at Walmart, and I won’t stop shopping at Walmart. I’ll stop shopping with you, because I don’t like spending my money with people who try to make me feel bad.”

Click below for more: 
Prefer Obligation to Shame 
Fix the Problem, Not the Blame

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