Thursday, October 22, 2015

Overachieve as the Underdog

A small to midsize retail business may aim to garner attention by describing itself as an underdog, operating in the shadows of or in an unbalanced contention with larger retailers. However, unless handled well, that strategy could have undesirable results. While consumers root for the underdog, those same consumers like to associate with winners. Therefore, to get the best from portraying yourself as an underdog retailer, project your commitment to winning. Show perseverance in meeting the shopper’s needs.
     Researchers at Xi'An JiaoTong University and National Hsinchu University of Education presented one group of study participants with a story of a brand which already established itself as having endurance and another group of participants with a story of a new, emerging brand. In the story, half of each group were told explicitly how the brand was an underdog. For the other half of each group, the underdog position was only hinted at. Afterwards, the degree of brand preference was assessed among the members of the groups.
     The results showed how an underdog portrayal raises brand preference best when the portrayal is explicit and the brand has already shown it has lasting power.
     Notice that the two institutions sponsoring the research are both in an Asian culture. Other research suggests that the influence of underdog portrayals is even stronger in Western cultures. Researchers at Harvard University, Simmons College, and Boston College found that when a choice of chocolate bar brands was offered to the study participants, the brand positioned as the underdog was selected about 70% of the time. Overall, the effect was there for all the participant groups. Still, the effect was stronger among the American study participants than among those from Singapore. The power of the come-from-behind fits well with the distinctively American stories of successful immigrants and of second chances met with passionate determination.
     Once you become the Big Dog winning retailer instead of the overachieving underdog, take care in your comparative advertising. You could advertise with a negative frame or a positive frame. The negative frame is of the form “The other store is bad, and our store is good.” The positive frame is of the form “The other store is good, and our store is even better.”
     Researchers at New York University and Vanderbilt University recommend always accentuating the positive in comparatives. Negatively framed comparatives draw more counterarguments from shoppers. Again, people will support the underdog.

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

Click below for more: 
Boast About Underdog Determination
Position Your Team a Little Bit Behind
Combine Positive with Negative Comparatives

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