Monday, March 31, 2014

Blank Out to Increase Consumption

Researchers at University of Georgia and University of Pennsylvania asked consumers to evaluate packages designed to look incomplete. The result of this was a belief among the consumers that the package held a lower quantity compared to packages of equivalent size and weight, but without blanks in the design. It’s as if the missing portion generated feelings in the consumer that part of the contents had leaked out, leaving less behind.
     A byproduct of this perception was how people in the study desired a larger quantity of the contents from an incomplete package than from a complete package. The blank stimulated demand.
     Results from other studies indicate that the effect isn’t due only to the unusual shape of the incomplete container. At University of Southern California, shoppers presented with two unfamiliar products in a category—one of the products in an unusually-shaped container and the other one not—said, on average, that they’d get more for their money if they were to buy the product in the unusual container. The researchers concluded it’s because the unusual shape draws more attention, and the consumer’s brain subconsciously translates the extra attention into higher value.
     The blank presents a bit of a mystery, and mysteries intrigue us. Research findings from Indiana University and University of Colorado-Boulder show the value of a mystery ad format, in which you wait until the end to announce the retailer’s name. Start off with an unusual story or absurd humor which dramatizes the category of retailer and hooks the ad’s viewer or listener into thinking “Who’s this commercial for, anyway?”
     Mystery ads were significantly more effective than traditional ads in strengthening the name-category link. If you use mystery ads, people who afterwards start to yearn for categories the ads say your store carries will think about your store as the place to get those categories.
     However, don’t forget to boldly announce your store name at the end. Advertising pioneer David Ogilvy said, “Use the name within the first ten seconds.” Mystery ads respect that advice, then modify it to become, “Drill in the name within the last five seconds.”
     Similarly, don’t push too far the effect of the incomplete package design. We usually want the packages we stock on our store shelves to project an unambiguous sales message. For instance, when purchasing a product associated with extra calories, shoppers prefer an hourglass shape to short and squat.

Click below for more: 
Sustain Mystery, But Not for Too Long 
Recommend Items that Look Like Purchases

Monday, March 24, 2014

Emphasize the Price to Spotlight Functionality

When consumers shop for items to be used some time from now, they'll pay special attention to the number and distinctiveness of the features. But when consumers plan to put the item to work soon, they're especially interested in ease of use. Ask shoppers how soon they plan to start using what they’re considering. Knowing this allows you to present the most compelling balance between desirability and feasibility benefits.
     In some instances, though, you’d like the shopper to pay more attention to the value of the functions even when the purchase is intended for imminent use. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and University of Toronto find that one way to accomplish this is to emphasize the price of the item. When consumers encounter a price for an item to which they’re attracted, their brains will start seeking ways to justify the expenditure, and so they’ll spotlight the number, distinctiveness, and value of the features.
     Because this tactic increases the consistency between shorter-term and longer-term choice strategies, it works best with people who carry a self-image of stability regarding how they assess products and services for purchase. They view themselves as using similar criteria and as probably making the same choices again in the future if the circumstances are similar. Compared to shoppers with a self-image of low stability, the shoppers with high-stability self-images appreciate customized recommendations more and are more receptive to learning from the salesperson.
     How do we change self-images of low stability into self-images of high stability in order to increase our influence? Using questions that include the word “you” help the shopper describe the criteria they use and recall the instances in which they’ve used those criteria:
     “In the past, what standards have you used in selecting a floral arrangement? How did those standards work out for you?”
     Also, emphasizing price doesn’t necessarily mean putting price before quantity: Which of these two is more attractive to shoppers?
  • $29.99 for 70 rolls 
  • 70 rolls for $29.99 
     Researchers at Virginia Tech say to put the even quantity before the odd price. A quantity of 70 seems like a lot for whatever you’re paying. But a price of $29.99 is high enough to justify a second thought. So the appeal of “70 units” outweighs concern about a $29.99 price, making the “70 rolls for $29.99” the more attractive phrasing. The second of the two above is better.

Click below for more: 
Accent the Emotions when Imminent Usage 
Strengthen Perceptions of Self-Consistency 
Put Large Quantity Before Odd Price

Monday, March 17, 2014

Yoke Low or High Happiness to Life Stage

YOLO—you only live once—is the ethos of the movie “Dead Poet’s Society,” in which the youthful students are urged to “Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary” in order to find happiness. A contrasting movie counterpart is “The Bucket List,” whose protagonists nearing the end of their days discover that they seize the best happiness via calm time with family.
     Researchers at Dartmouth College and University of Pennsylvania used those two examples to dramatize their findings that retailers should connect happiness appeals with the shopper’s life stage. As people progress though life, they seek distinctive adventures to define themselves at landmark steps. But those consumers who perceive themselves as closer to the end of life—perhaps because they are old, perhaps because they are seriously ill—are less likely to define themselves by new experiences and are more likely to find contentment in the tested routines of daily life.
     Travel agents, for example, would do best to advertise journeys to younger customers as opportunities to mark milestones, where the appeal to older folks would be sharing familiar journeys with family and long-time friends.
     In another set of studies, the University of Pennsylvania research team, plus teams at Stanford University and MIT, found that two ways in which consumers define happiness are related to age: Younger consumers seek the excitement of novelty, while older consumers seek the calmness of familiarity.
     Participants were offered choices in tea, bottled water, and music. The future-focused participants were more likely to select “a refreshing peppermint blend” over “a relaxing blend of chamomile and mint,” the bottle of “Pure Excitement” water labeled in bright orange over the “Pure Calm” one labeled in green, and the more upbeat version of the song “Such Great Heights.” The younger consumers were more future-focused and the older ones more present-focused.
     In the marketplace, many experience offerings are retailed to include a range of consumer ages. Researchers at University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Virginia, Duke University, and University of Bologna report that consumers are often operating on the assumption that they'll have more time in the future, but not necessarily more money. This doesn't mean at all that the consumers are satisfied to be wasting time. On the contrary, they want to feel in control of their time. An essential part of you offering family-oriented experiences is to advertise the benefits the experiences offer for shared happiness.

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

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Meditate on Happiness 
Offer Family-Oriented Experiences

Monday, March 10, 2014

Decide Who to Sell To

Who are your prime customers?
     In the current issue of Harvard Business Review, business administration professor Robert Simons urges business owners and operators to precisely identify who they’re trying to sell to. Although all successful retailers think of themselves as customer-driven, their definitions of customer may differ.
     Your most important customers might not be the ones generating the most sales revenue. In fact, there are circumstances where add-on sales eat up profits instead of adding to them. The best people to sell to are those that add the most value to the business. It could be a broker, such as an interior designer who sells your decorative items for a commission, or a recommendation agent, such as a market maven.
     Prof. Simons points out that there are instances in which one of the primary customers is a store’s supplier. You might be selling a vendor on the idea of giving you special prices or payment terms.
     Unless you accurately identify the vendor as a customer, you could also miss out on accurately identifying any sources of discomfort.
     Sometimes when you’re meeting with a vendor’s sales rep, you’ll have an intuitive uncomfortable feeling about the person or situation. These striking judgments almost always occur within the first few moments. Research indicates that if you’ve an abundance of experience dealing with sales reps, the quick judgments like this often pay off. They are good signals of whether you should continue working with the rep or the supplier. Overall, you’re best off dealing with vendors and sales reps you’re comfortable with from the start.
     But your discomfort might be for reasons which have little to do with the capabilities of this sales rep to help you achieve profitability. For instance, maybe it’s only that the clothes the sales rep is wearing seem wrong for the meeting. Or maybe the sales rep looks like an older version of a rival or bully from your high school days.
     In business-to-business sales, there can be a range of customers over the course of the transaction:
  • Initiators identify the need for the product or service you can provide 
  • Gatekeepers gather information and route it to the other participants in the purchase decision 
  • Influencers differ in the amount of knowledge they have, their motivation to sway the outcome, and the political power they can exert in organizational decision making 
  • Buyers are the ones who authorize the purchase 
Click below for more: 
Prune Out Cross-Buyers Who Aren’t Plums 
Court Market Mavens for Social Media 
Consult Mirror Neurons with Vendors 
Learn the Relationship B2B Customers Want

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bifurcate the Implications of Eye Magnets

Retailers want shoppers to like what the shoppers see. Neuropsychological research at Copenhagen Business School and the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance verifies how it works the other way around, too: Shoppers tend to see what they like. And it turns out, this also works the other way around in a different sense: Shoppers tend to have enhanced perception of disliked items.
     The researchers began by asking a group of consumers to evaluate their preferences for 104 well-known brand names. Next, study participants were individually shown the brand names, one at a time, for brief intervals and asked to state for each, whether what was shown produced “a clear experience” of seeing it, “a vague experience,” or “no experience.”
     Those brand names a consumer had rated most favorably were the most likely to later receive ratings of being seen clearly. They were seen more clearly than those brands the person rated negatively or neutral.
     But there was another finding: Those brands rated negatively were more likely to have been seen clearly than those with a neutral rating.
     When a retailer sees a shopper looking at an item, the retailer might assume the shopper especially likes that item. However, the truth is that the item might have drawn the eyes like a magnet because of negative reactions.
     Noticing facial expressions, body posture, and gestures can help you determine which is which. Best of all is asking the shopper with an implied question. “I notice you paying special attention to that item….” Leave the rest of the question, “Why are you staring at it?,” unsaid, since that part could put the shopper on the defensive.
     Also, as you bifurcate—divide your impressions into the two implications of “the shopper really likes it” and “the shopper really dislikes it”—recognize that characteristics other than the brand name serve as eye magnets.
     Package design and package contents, for instance.
     Researchers at University of Southern California found that when packages stand out from others, they not only draw the eyes and hands toward them, but also tend to be judged by shoppers as a better value. In one study, people were shown two grocery packages holding identical quantities. The people were told that the prices of the two were the same and the quality was similar. Most of the study participants thought the attention-attracting package was bigger and therefore was the better buy.

Click below for more: 
Position Prized Items to Grab Attention 
Notice Where Entering Shoppers Look 
Keep Your Eye on Merchandising to the Right