Monday, March 30, 2015

Power Tools to Empower Women

If your store carries tools, such as supplies and implements, women could use for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) home projects, build the empowerment appeal in order to power your sales of those items. Researchers at University of Southern Mississippi and Appalachian State University identify distinct aspects of that appeal. Here’s my version of the list along with my suggestions of how to use each aspect:

  • Project initiation. Keep your salesperson role one of coach, who reassures the woman of availability until the project is completed and encourages the woman to buy what’s needed. Especially during the project initiation, be an advisor. Stay away from seeming like a superhero who aims to rescue the damsel in distress. Have women salespersons available and regularly show female salespersons in ads. Lowe’s took these steps to make their home improvement stores more female-friendly. 
  • Production mastery. Doing construction provides an opportunity to learn new skills. Women especially enjoy design competence. Consider offering training classes or your visits to their project as a way to distinguish yourself from online vendors. You could charge for these services, but bundling them with purchases can be better. 
  • Adding economic value & ownership. Studies at California State University-Long Beach. University of Nebraska, and Bath University explored DIY motivations in men. Family men of lower social class with fewer resources in their lives often view the residence as an extension of the workplace. They’re responsible for maintenance, and good stewardship means saving money by doing repairs and improvements yourself. Women who are under financial strain as homeowners and heads of households are likely to see economic value in their projects. Point out the return on investment to the shoppers who will become owners of enhanced property. 
  • Unleashing creative potential. In the studies, men of lower social class felt artistry in DIY projects distinguishes the family from other families that have limited resources and from the routine life to which many families of limited means are consigned. Family men of relatively high social class with more resources in their lives are drawn to the relief from knowledge work, a relief achieved as they work with their hands. These consumers consider DIY projects as leisure activities to be relished, never rushed. They’ll browse at stores and introduce artistry into their projects as a form of personal expression. The Mississippi/Appalachian State study results indicate you should stay attuned to parallel motivations in the women DIYers. 
For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Manipulate the Shopper’s Sense of Power 
Stem the Tide of Female Shopper Discomfort 
Bundle Utility, Discount Hedonism
Ask “Whither Art Thou Helping?”

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dream Consumption Visions of the Past

Consumer researchers use the term “consumption vision” to describe a shopper’s mental image which is vivid and specific enough to let a shopper vicariously experience the benefits they would personally enjoy in using the product or service. Consumption visions increase purchase likelihood.
     But what if the shopper isn’t familiar with what it’s like to use the item? Researchers at University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and Vanderbilt University found that it doesn’t work nearly as well to have people visualize use in the future as to visualize repeating use experienced with the item in the past. That’s harder with highly innovative items.
     The researchers asked consumers to evaluate a tablet PC, a heart rate monitor, a vacation trip the consumer hadn’t taken before, and Google Glass. Of this set, the tablet PC would probably be most familiar to people and, at the time of the study, the Google Glass wearable eyeglass-format computer would probably be least familiar to them.
     Sure enough, this degree of familiarity affected product evaluation because it determined the consumption vision quality. Runners were better able to imagine using the heart monitor than were non-runners because the runners were more familiar with the idea of a heart monitor. Those who said they knew something about the vacation destination, even though they’d never been there, had stronger consumption visions, based on using memories from their past of similar experiences.
     With innovative products and services, make the unfamiliar familiar before asking the shopper to imagine using the item. Work in phrasing like, “Using this is like using that item you’re accustomed to,” and “Once you do this a few times, it will be as second nature to you as what you’ve been doing up to now.” In the Toronto/British Columbia/Vanderbilt studies, when a more detailed description of Google Glass was provided, imagining use was easier because there was more for the consumer to find familiar.
     Still, the researchers caution against giving volumes of information when requesting consumption visions of innovative items. The risk is that the shopper ends up stuck in the past. Other research supports using vivid language to stimulate the senses, but giving the shopper the minimum amount of technical information necessary to set up the imagining. Then be ready to provide more details if the shopper asks. The power of consumption visions is greater when a person fills in some of their own blanks.

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

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Stimulate Consumption Visions with Ads 
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Monday, March 16, 2015

French Kiss Nutrition Notices Goodbye

In providing you advice based on consumer behavior research, I'm attentive to the cultural orientation of the study samples. Asian cultures have different takes on luck and liability than do Western cultures, for instance.
     Researchers from Baruch College, University of California-Berkeley, and San Francisco State University surprised people with promotional gifts. Americans enjoyed their gifts more than did those from Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, or Vietnam. Because the reward appeared to be unearned, the East Asian recipients seemed to feel it produced a menacing imbalance.
     And according to studies at Chinese University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University in Hong Kong, compared with those who identify with predominant North American cultures, your customers who identify with an Asian culture are more likely to forgive flawed service outcomes if they have been granted courtesy and attentiveness.
     Even among Western cultures, consumers show differences significant for your retailing practices. Researchers at University of Minnesota and NEOMA Business School aroused national pride in a group of American and French consumers by showing them cultural symbols—the Statue of Liberty and bald eagle for the Americans, the Eiffel Tower and Gallic rooster for the French.
     All the study participants were then told about a fresh fruit mix and a piece of chocolate cake and asked to predict how much they’d enjoy each. For some of the participants from each culture, what they were told about both items included detailed nutritional information. The question was in what ways, if any, the nutritional information influenced the anticipated enjoyment of the items.
     As in the traditional French Kiss, the tongue played a major role. The French consumers, with a heavy heritage of relishing the taste of food, were put off by being asked to process mundane details like health benefits or lack thereof. The predictions of enjoyment for both the fruit and the cake were significantly lower than among the French consumers not given the nutrition information. With the Americans, no real differences were seen between the two groups in predicted enjoyment.
     A related research report ends with a quote attributed to Mark Twain, “The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” It appears to me that Mr. Twain, a quintessential American writer whose bibliography includes The Innocents Abroad, in this case came down on the side of the French slant.

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

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Give the Gift of Uncertainty, Love
Deliver Friendliness If Outcomes Are Uncertain

Monday, March 9, 2015

Round Out Prices for Feel-Good Buys

When does a price of $10.00 look more appealing to a shopper than a price of $9.99? According to studies at INSEAD-Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, that happens when the purchase will make the shopper feel good. HDTVs, vacation packages, clothing, handbags, and other hedonic items feel more right when the price is rounded.
     The findings are consistent with past research showing how indulgences should be priced at whole-dollar amounts. Consider these as exceptions to the well-documented traditional rule that $3.99 looks significantly better than $4.00 to the shopper, and $499 looks much better than $500.
     Does the traditional rule always hold for mundane products like toothpaste and washing machines? No, not always, say the INSEAD/Nanyang researchers. If the salesperson successfully positions the item as giving pleasure rather than as only utilitarian, a rounded price will project attractiveness.
     The researchers presented consumers with a description of a camera and a sample of photos taken with the camera. For one group, the price of the camera was stated as $101.53, and for the others as $100.00. Then half of the number of participants in each group were asked to consider purchasing the camera for a class project—a mundane use. The other half were asked to consider purchasing the camera for a family vacation—a hedonic use.
     Sure enough, those considering the class project use rated the quality of the sample pictures higher when the camera price was $101.53, while those considering the family vacation use rated the picture quality higher if the price was $100.
     The preference for round prices was also produced when shoppers felt under stress when making selections. Here, the feeling good was the relief which came from completing the task.
     Feeling right from the round and regular applies to package shapes, too. 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 gap stimulated demand.

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

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Expect Exceptions to 99-Ending Pricing 
Attend to Negatives When High Time Pressure 
Blank Out to Increase Consumption

Monday, March 2, 2015

Split Your Pants for Hedonic Shoppers

Should a retailer who sells shirts and pants display all available pants in one area and all available shirts in another area, or should the pants be split into groups, with each group having an accompanying assortment of complementary shirts? Should a grocery store stock all yogurt choices in one area and things people might like to have with their yogurt in another area? Or should the yogurts be shelved in groups interspersed with fitting accompaniments?
  • Researchers at University of Southern California, University of Pittsburgh, and Wageningen University say it depends on whether shoppers are seeking practical utility or hedonic pleasure. Complement-based store arrangements—each set of pants with a fitting set of shirts, for instance—appeal to hedonic shoppers. Substitute-based store arrangements—all the pants in one area and all the shirts close by, but not intermixed with the pants—appeal to utilitarian shoppers. 
  • Study results from University of Washington, University of Iowa, and University of Technology-Sydney indicate that the perceived relative quality of the items matters. With items seen as having only adequate, but not luxury, quality, shoppers are drawn by substantial variety to select from. It’s better to have all available alternatives of a particular item category displayed together. However, with the luxury yogurt brands in the study, the shoppers demanded less variety. Profitability per square foot of shelf space is likely to be greater when promising add-on items are positioned with a limited selection of yogurts. 
  • Both these findings hold when the shopper’s concentrating on item selection. With routine or habitual purchases, a shopper often wants an assortment in which items have different brand personalities from each other. An exciting pick after a sincere pick. A rugged one after a sophisticated one. It would fulfill both customers’ and your objectives to have the personality of each category stand out from the personalities of the adjacent ones. Surround the sincere, competent brand with exciting, sophisticated brands say researchers at University of North Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, and Duke University. 
  • Still another consideration concerns discounts on bundled purchases. If you set your promotional pricing such that an increased quantity sale of each will produce a greater profit, then feature the discounts on the two categories during the same time period. Otherwise, offer a discount on one of the categories and keep the other at full price, then at a later period, do it the other way around. 
For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

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Note Familiarity for Adjacency Effects 
Organize Shelves & Racks to Portray Variety 
Discount Partner Items Simultaneously or Not?