Thursday, November 19, 2015

Repeat Warnings at Time of Acquisition

You would think that if you warn some shoppers “The product may cause significant hair loss, headaches, and damage to the immune system,” those shoppers would be less likely to choose to use the product than if no warning had been given. But researchers at New York University, Tel Aviv University, and INSEAD-Singapore found that, under certain circumstances, the warning ends up actually making product use more likely.
     Those circumstances occur when there’s a delay between the warning being given and the step of acquiring the item. It’s a version of what consumer psychologists call “the sleeper effect,” in which part of a message is remembered and acted upon, but the rest is forgotten or ignored. When people are warned of the dangers in using a product, they build trust in the retail source of that message as being honest. Over time, the impact of the warning fades, but the feeling of trust in the product benefits statements remains.
     For one study, researchers included within a pitch to women for a certain artificial sweetener a warning that the product could cause immune system damage. The remainder of the women in the study were not given that warning. Then for half of the women in each group, an invitation was extended to order the sweetener right then. The others were asked to return two weeks later, at which point they were invited to order the sweetener.
     Women in the immediate-choice circumstance who had been given the warning ordered about 5% the number of sweetener packages ordered by those who didn’t get the warning. The caution frightened them away. But in the two-week-later group, those who had been given the warning ordered 265% more than did those not given the warning. The warning built trust which outlasted the caution.
     Similar results for other items indicate this paradoxical influence of warnings holds for purchases of a range of products, medical procedures, and financial investments. Other research indicates that the scarier the original warning about an item the shopper desires, the more likely the warning will be forgotten. Added to the sleeper effect is willful ignorance.
     My general advice to retailers is not to give warnings to shoppers unless asked. Inform without intruding. However, I make an exception when it comes to safety. Via product labels, risk statements in ads, and face-to-face dialogue, arouse caution in shoppers at the time of product acquisition.

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

Click below for more: 
Acknowledge Customers’ Willful Ignorance
Caution Shoppers for OTC Safety
Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me
Check Instructions with Elderly Customers

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