Monday, October 6, 2014

Reserve Control in Intimate Outsourcing

Consumer interest in contracting with merchants to handle intimate responsibilities isn’t new. Matchmakers were around for millennia before eHarmony. Nannies and au pairs are simply older forms of child care centers and Merry Maids. Hiring a business to plan your child’s birthday party may seem novel, but hiring a bunch of businesses to plan a wedding is old hat.
     What is newer is the growth in opportunities for merchants to sell such services because consumers feel more time pressures.
     Researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison considered the example of parents outsourcing planning of their child’s birthday party. In structured interviews with study samples, the researchers identified pivotal shopper questions the parents will probably ask. Here’s my version of those questions along with my suggestions for profitable retailer responses:
  • “Will I feel I’ve carried out my parental responsibilities?” Reserve control for the parent. Because they have come to you to save time, take care not to overload with details. Have a set of three to five overall party packages to consider, and allow for customization of each package. 
  • “Will my family and friends give me credit for carrying out my responsibilities as a parent?” This question is similar to the first one, but it’s different. It’s the difference between psychological risk—“What will I think of myself?”—and social risk—“What will others think of me?” Go beyond reserving control for the parent in the party planning. Also reserve ample opportunities for the parent to be the focus of attention during the celebration itself. 
     In a classic study published in 1950, psychologist Mason Haire presented either of two versions of a shopping list to groups of consumers. The lists were identical except that one included “Nescafé instant coffee” and the other, “1 lb Maxwell House Coffee (Drip Ground).” Among the people shown the first list, 48% described a woman who would write such a list as lazy. The figure was 4% for those shown the second list. Outsourcing the brewing of the coffee had social risks.
     When Prof. Haire did a second study, adding “Blueberry Fill Pie Mix” to each list, the “instant coffee” shopper was much less likely to be seen as lazy.
     And in a replication of the first study eighteen years later, there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups. Outsourcing that family responsibility became more acceptable. The psychology of the consumer does change over time.

Click below for more: 
Shelve Self-Control with Risk Mates 
Limit Design Support for Personalized Gifts

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