Monday, December 29, 2014

Color Me Scared Blue

Life insurance sales professionals regularly bring up to prospects the rather frightening possibility that the prospects could die at any time. In certain circumstances, there are many other sorts of retailers who can make a sale more likely by arousing in the customer a sense of fear—fear about the consequences of not making the purchase or buying into the course of action we’re proposing. Fear has also been identified by University of Pennsylvania researchers as one of the top emotions—outrage being the other—which motivate consumers to distribute shopping advice via social media.
     The words you use in the fear appeal make a difference. Raise enough fear of a real danger to win the customer’s attention and motivate action, but only to the degree that you’ve a guaranteed way to substantially reduce the risk. Don’t oversell. Researchers at Auburn University find that if the fear becomes too intense or if the shopper doesn’t see a way out, the shopper becomes defensive and starts thinking about why they don’t need the item you’re wanting to sell them. Or if they do end up making the purchase, chances are they’ll associate painful emotions with your store, making it less likely they’ll come back again.
     The colors you choose also have an effect. Studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussel found that a background of blue in ads, signage, and promotional materials employing fear appeals will work especially well in arousing in the viewer feelings that the threat can affect them personally and is worth attending to.
     When first learning of this research finding, I was surprised. In consumer research, blue is associated with leisurely, deliberative shopping. People prefer ads with a backdrop of blue to those with a backdrop of red. American Express named its credit card Blue because their market research showed the color was associated with positive feelings about the future.
     Upon further reflection, the finding does make sense to me. Blue provides that patina of optimism which keeps the fear in the sales pitch from overwhelming the prospective customer. Even then, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel color recommendation holds only for relatively low threats. With high-threat messages, people pay only limited attention to the background color.
     For high-threat pitches, have the shopper relax, without inducing big pressure to make the consumption decision, and complete the sale in steps rather than deciding it all has to happen at once.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Scare Customers into Buying 
Arouse Emotions to Drive Online Sharing 
Craft Fear Appeals 
Exercise Cultural Sensitivity in Color Use 
Call for Scrutiny of Groundless Fears 
Stop Threatening My Buds

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