Monday, January 19, 2015

Puff Down for Authenticity

People are more likely to buy from you when they perceive your store, the brands you carry, and your salespeople to be authentic. That’s a repeated finding about consumer behavior. But what goes into consumers considering a retailer to be authentic? Research identifies four interrelated components:
  • Continuity. A store being in business for a longer time and carrying the same sorts of merchandise. Low staff turnover. 
  • Credibility. Store policies and practices which are easy to understand. 
  • Integrity. Evidence that the store and its staff intend to earn a profit by serving customers well rather than by selling each customer as much as possible. 
  • Symbolism. A store image compatible with the shopper’s self-image. 
     The researchers—from University of Lausanne, University of Bern, and Concordia University—caution that bragging about these characteristics risks leading target audiences to question the authenticity. This is consistent with earlier research findings from University of Wisconsin-Madison, which documented how Starbucks had become a victim of their own successful branding of the shops as an authentic coffee experience. Many customers, after being convinced of the importance of such an experience, decided Starbucks was talking too much about their authenticity. Those customers gave up on Starbucks and aimed for other shops which showed more humility. Consumers figured that the more you highlight your authenticity, the less authentic you are.
     Shoppers’ search for authenticity could be attributed to the abundance of fake claims all around. The recommended remedy: Sensitize your ongoing customers to the degree of certainty in what’s said about your store and the items you sell.
  • When making a claim to a shopper, state the certainty you intend. “I can guarantee you,” is different from, “Most shoppers say.” 
  • When shoppers or customers bring claims to you, ask about the degree of certainty the customer gives to it. The degree of certainty associated with a claim is forgotten much more quickly than is the content of the claim. When assessing for authenticity, people benefit from being reminded about credibility. 
  • Use puffery cautiously. Puffery consists of lavish, often exaggerated, claims about a store or about items the store carries. If you sell quality products and services and you maintain a staff with acknowledged expertise, expose shoppers to your puffery. Let the puffery demonstrate the abundant enthusiasm you have for what you’re offering. But don’t push it too hard. 
For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Authenticate Subtly 
Sensitize Customers to Degree of Certainty

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