Thursday, August 13, 2015

Humanize the Item into a Salesperson

A shopper’s temptation to purchase an item can trigger the shopper’s drive for self-control, making it less likely the purchase will be made. Using consumer psychology insights, clever retailers have found ways to dilute the self-control. Some of those ways are surprising because of how well they work. Researchers at Technical University of Lisbon and at Tilburg University in the Netherlands found that people who resisted eating a tempting product were more likely to overcome their hesitations when presented with small packages than when presented the equivalent amount in a large package. The people who got started on the small packages ended up eating more than did those who dug into the large package. The participants had said they believed small packages would help them limit their consumption. The opposite proved to be true.
     Other techniques for diluting the self-control carry surprises in why they work. An example is in the effects of anthropomorphism, which means giving human characteristics to an item for sale. This might come from how the item looks, in a picture or name of a person on the packaging, or in the way an advertisement or the salesperson describes the item. It’s been thought the reason this works is that anthropomorphism makes the item more friendly. Researchers at Northwestern University, University of Cologne, and South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University find another influential reason it works is that a properly anthropomorphized item gains the persuasiveness of a human salesperson. This decreases the shopper’s feelings of responsibility for purchasing the item. They can blame the item for them giving in, just as they would blame a compelling sales pitch. “I couldn’t help myself.”
     In using this tactic to improve sales, do stay aware of three cautions:
  • There must be a desire for the item in the first place. The tactic does not, in itself, stimulate the desire. However, the Northwestern / Cologne / Sungkyunkwan researchers say the desire need be only sufficiently large to motivate purchase when the self-control resistance is diluted. 
  • Use the tactic ethically. Those researchers expressed clear concerns about misapplications of anthropomorphism in public health initiatives. I take responsibility for applying the research findings to selling sweet temptations. 
  • Stop short of making the human appeal so precious it could impede consumption. The very first example of anthropomorphism given by the researchers was for Crunchy Cheetos snacks: “Schedule a break with some crunchy orange friends. Then eat your friends.” 
Click below for more: 
Label as Small to Increase Trial
Shelve Self-Control with Risk Mates
Bear with Care When Wanting Self-Control

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