Monday, May 12, 2014

Confirm the Status Lift from Nonconformity

Henry Kissinger, perhaps best known as the U.S. Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon, is quoted as saying, “The nice thing about being a celebrity is that, if you bore people, they think it’s their fault.”
     Along this same line, if a high status person make a joke which the recipient doesn’t understand, the recipient often accords even higher respect to the joke-maker, thinking that the joke-maker must be smarter than the recipient.
     A variant of this social psychology phenomenon is that if your high-status customer flagrantly violates some norm—such as a dress code—this can lift their status rather than lessen it.
     Researchers at Harvard University asked students to judge the professional status of a teacher. In some cases, the teacher was described as working at a community college; in the rest of the cases, the teacher was described as working at a prestigious university. And some of the participants in each of those two groups was told, among other things, that the teacher was clean-shaven and wore business suits; the other participants in each group were told the teacher had a beard and wore T-shirts.
     The ratty dresser got higher status ratings than the natty dresser if a professor at a prestigious university. The logic seems to be that a person has to have earned truly high credentials before they can get away with rejecting conventions.
     Sell to your shoppers the advantages of violating a norm or two. It can raise their status in the eyes of others. They’ll be trend setters. The Harvard researchers say you can charge premium prices for skillfully guiding your shoppers into selective nonconformity.
     Why not strip shoppers to the full monty of norm violation? Because the phenomenon works only if others perceive transgressions as intentional. This is best accomplished when maintaining an overall tone of conformity.
     There are circumstances under which consumers will strive to use items they associate with a lower socioeconomic status. Consumer psychologists call it “parody display.” Among Americans, tattoos were more popular in low socioeconomic classes before the prevalence moved uptown. Other examples include pickup trucks and blue jeans.
     Behind parody display is the customer’s desire to be distinctive. Everyone else is wearing the aspirational wardrobe. Create a striking image by incorporating artifacts others don’t expect. Smart retailers leverage this motivation via contrast in merchandising. Show the lower-class item surrounded by the usual aspirational things.

Click below for more: 
Plumb for Consumers’ Desire to Slum 
Raise Luxury Prices If Equivalents Drop Prices

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