Thursday, December 29, 2016

Coordinate Store Atmosphere Stimuli

Music, scents, and colors in a store are among the most thoroughly researched atmospheric influencers of people’s purchase behavior. Researchers at Austria’s Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Portugal’s Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, and Aberystwyth University in Wales systematized thirty years of others’ conclusions about the three:
  • Music and scents which the shopper find to be pleasant motivate in-store purchases, especially the purchases of services. The broader point is that atmospheric factors count more when there aren’t the sounds, scents, and colors of products and product packages competing with surrounding sounds, scents, and colors added by the store staff. In all cases, the effects are strongest when the stimuli are subtle, so they’re best used in a long-term strategy of maintaining sensory branding to distinguish a store from other venues. 
  • Music is notably helpful in circumstances where moderate levels of machine noise or customer chatter risk distracting shoppers’ deliberations. 
  • Warm colors—reds, oranges, and yellows—stimulate consumers to make decisions more quickly, while cool colors—greens, blues, violets, and whites—increase consumers’ satisfaction with their purchases. This leads to the suggestion to use warm colors in areas of your store featuring innovative items and cool colors at the complaint desk. 
  • Scents are more influential with women than with men, and music is more influential with men than with women. 
     Other research finds that the effects of different sensory modalities are not completely independent. Synesthesia is the cross-sensory phenomenon where certain sounds produce in the shopper’s brain perceptions of colors, each sound bringing forth a particular hue. Or how the sounds of music can arouse sensations of taste.
     In university laboratories and retail field settings, researchers at Freie Universität Berlin and Technische Universität Berlin exposed consumers to different feelings of surface hardness or to different temperatures. The results of the studies indicate that greater amounts of hardness make consumers more likely to think of a retail business as rugged. Higher temperatures—as long as they’re not too high to be pleasant—make consumers more likely to think of a retail business as having a warm personality.
     The quality of background music in a restaurant influences gustatory experiences when eating and thereby the impression the diner carries away as the restaurant image. Specifically, research from Oxford University finds:
  • Sweet tastes and sour tastes are accentuated by higher-pitched music 
  • Bitter, smoky, and woody tastes come through better with lower-pitched music 
  • Piano or woodwind strengthens fruity flavors 
For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

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Orchestrate Purchase Intentions
Spice Up Store Sales
Exercise Cultural Sensitivity in Color Use
Mirror Responsibility at Complaint Desks
Use Synesthesia to Reinforce Store Image
Arouse Patrons’ Sensations

Monday, December 26, 2016

Relax Cost-Sensitive Shoppers via TRP Trips

“Only pennies a day” is a classic sales pitch format, especially for high priced items and highly cost-sensitive shoppers. Researchers at Japan’s Keio University refer to the technique as Temporal Reframing of Prices. They reviewed studies done by others and conducted their own inquiries toward developing recommendations for TRP use. Here’s my version of what they found:
  • In general, TRP facilitates the sale more often with units of merchandise and services the purchaser will consume over a period of time rather than all at once. This is true even in cases where the supply will be replenished promptly with another purchase of the item so that consumption does occur over a period of time. 
  • TRP loses effectiveness when the per-day quote is itself high. In one study, the break point was $4 a day, but that study was done in 2003, so the figure might very well be somewhat higher now. 
  • Charities will often combine TRP with a comparison point, such as saying, “That’s probably less than you spend each day on lunch.” This addition does increase donation frequency. However, it doesn’t help in retail selling contexts. 
  • Give the TRP quote only after describing the product benefits and clearly stating the actual total price. If you fail to do this, many shoppers will believe you’re hiding information from them and they’ll feel distrustful. A variation of TRP is stating the price in units of benefits. A tire retailer could state prices in terms of how much it costs per 1,000 miles. This can work well by keeping the focus on advantages instead of expenditures. 
  • If you post unit pricing (“$1.68 per liter”), as you might be required by law to do, the additional use of TRP can confuse shoppers, and confusion makes bailing on the sale more likely. Here it’s best to reserve the unit pricing for shelf labels and reserve TRP for the face-to-face selling. 
     The logic underlying TRP is to have cost-sensitive shoppers think longer-term. There are other ways to do this, too. How about offering extended payment for an expensive purchase and pointing out advantages in purchasing an extended service contract? Even if the shopper doesn’t accept either offer, you’ve prompted a long-range perspective. Surveys by Fulcrum Analytics found that shoppers for a major appliance are more likely to end up buying when the retailer offers an ESC, even though many don’t actually get the ESC.

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

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Move Shoppers Beyond Fixating on Price
Give Customers Long-Range Perspectives
Offer the Escape of an ESC

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Brand People by Interpersonal Relationships

Sharp retailers recognize the interactions between people’s brand preferences and their self-image. Shoppers are more likely to select brands reflecting the image they’d like to have and believe they can achieve. And the brands people select influence the ways in which they view themselves.
     These mutually reinforcing links endure long enough to determine even decisions about how a user will ultimately dispose of branded items. Researchers at Boston University and University of Alberta explored the ways in which people decide whether to trash or recycle commodified items like paper cups and aluminum cans. They found that recycling was substantially more often the choice when the brand consumed from the cup or the can was one with which the person identified.
     Asking your customers how they dispose of products could yield useful information both about what brand personalities they seek and how to entice them to reduce environmental waste.
     The link of brand with self-image also has a role in how couples shop. Generally, when a married pair makes a purchase decision together, they are either developing or following rituals. By building on those rituals, you can guide the couple’s preferences.
     The newly married may have already set up housekeeping and therefore made many shopping decisions together already. However, shopping after the ceremony brings out different power dynamics. Both the man and the woman are each subconsciously influenced by how their respective mom and dad handled the decisions. The challenge for the retail salesperson is to track the ritual, which is still in a formative stage.
     The long-married couple has settled into their shopping-together rituals. Here, the challenge for the retail salesperson might come from the ritual being so automatic and quick for the couple that it is hard to discern. Moreover, once you’ve spotted it, the ritual often changes if one or the other member of the pair gets frustrated with the relationship. Researchers at University of New Hampshire and Duke University say it can come back to brand preferences.
     When a husband or wife feels low in relationship power and is irritated at the spouse, oppositional brand choice arises. A brand clearly different from the one selected by the spouse is preferred. It’s a temporary situation. When the relationship is mended, the underlying brand preference again shows itself. But accommodating the temporary situation helps you make the sale as well as resolving your puzzlement at what’s going on.

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

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Close In on How Shoppers Close Out Use
Build on Couples’ Decision-Making Rituals
Manipulate the Shopper’s Sense of Power
Attend to Genetic Influences in Selling

Monday, December 19, 2016

Fancy How to Sell More Features

When suggesting to shoppers an item that comes in a barebones version, a fully loaded version, and maybe versions in-between, where should you start? The primary rule is to discover enough about the prospective customer to decide which model would best meet their needs. Precede your recommendations by probing about how the shopper plans to use the item. This line of questioning provides you the information to deliver advice which is on-target for this individual consumer. It also means your recommendations will come across as credible.
     But what if a range of option loadings could meet the shopper’s needs and the higher-priced alternative with more features would better meet your revenue needs?
  • Researchers at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan found that the best strategy depends on how far in the future the shopper plans to use the item. For nearer timeframes, consumers find it easier to decide on the purchase when the salesperson begins with the basic model and then builds up with the options, asking the shopper to think about the outcomes of using the purchase. For more distant timeframes, the sale will move along more smoothly if you present the bells-and-whistles option and then, if the shopper seems overwhelmed by the complexity or the price, proceed to prune down, all the while encouraging the shopper to think about the process of learning to use and then getting use out of the item. 
  • If the time frame for usage is not clear, encourage the person to focus on just this one purchase, forgetting for a moment the other items on their shopping list. Then start with the fully loaded model, studies at Bentley University indicate. Shoppers who appreciate the appeal of this fancy model become more likely to consider the price of the model with fewer options to be a good deal. Therefore, the introduction of the fully-loaded model can be an especially helpful selling technique at the point where the shopper has concerns about the price of whatever other model they have their eye on. 
  • If as you provide your recommendations, you sense that the consumer’s trust in you is starting to fade, encourage the consumer to settle on less. In a group of studies conducted at University of Maryland, participants were offered a choice from three versions varying in complexity. Post-usage inquiries showed that those who selected a simpler version of the product ended up happier. 
For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

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Describe Fully-Loaded Items to the Focused
Offer Customers Basic Plus Add-Ons
Build or Prune Depending on Trust Levels
Accent the Emotions when Imminent Usage

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Floor Me with Persuasive Flooring

Researchers at New York University-Stern, University of Pittsburgh, and Drexel University found that a coupon requiring shoppers to travel farther from their planned path to obtain the discounted item resulted in an average increase in spending of about $21.00. When the coupon didn’t require wandering from the planned path, the increase was instead about $14.00.
     So consider the situation where a shopper comes into your store without a coupon, homes in on a particular item, instantly turns into a customer, and then immediately leaves your store after paying for it. A quick profit’s good. Still, considering the potential profits from aisle travel, you might very well prefer to have that shopper wander around a little before completing the transaction. They’re more likely to buy ancillary items on that visit and they’re better able to appreciate all the possibilities your store carries when considering future visits.
     Ecommerce has turned Possibilities Shoppers into Mission Shoppers. Because consumers are now accustomed to learning all about the products, the alternatives, and the prices before entering the store, many more of them bullet in with a target in mind and then leave without even as much as a ricochet toward impulse items.
     To encourage a tour of your business, create progress markers, say store atmospherics experts from Erasmus University, Ghent University, and Université Catholique de Lille. Sequential numbers on aisles or a sign on each describing what’s carried there can serve as progress markers. Prior studies have found that such progress markers might consist of store displays and merchandise arrangements intriguing enough to become mental speed bumps.
     But this latest set of researchers suggests you also get to the foot—well actually, the feet—of the matter. Changes in flooring affect shoppers’ pace. When there’s an easy path to follow, such as continuous carpeting surrounded by hard flooring, people tend to move relatively quickly. If there are variations in the flooring texture along the way, people tend to slow down and look around.
     We can even use flooring to draw attention differentially. University of Minnesota-Minneapolis and University of British Columbia researchers discovered that shoppers who are walking on soft pile carpeting, compared to on hard vinyl tile, attribute extra comfort to offers of products or services they see which require them to walk off the path a bit to reach. They are drawn to these items in the same way accent lighting would attract them.

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

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Escort Shoppers on In-Store Travel
Charge for Entertaining Possibilities Shoppers
Use Accent Lighting to Build Shopper Interest
Stimulate Shopper Search

Monday, December 12, 2016

Remedy Reluctant Salesmanship

In the years just prior to World War II, comedian Al Pearce regaled radio audiences nationwide playing a character named Elmer Blurt. The story of Elmer was that each time he’d approach a residence, he’d nervously chant, “Nobody home, I hope, I hope, I hope.” The laughter from the radio audiences came because the rest of the story was that Elmer was a door-to-door insurance salesman. Not a highly successful salesman, we would conclude.
     I’ve encountered employees in retail stores who are equally reluctant to initiate a sales transaction. They’re more comfortable with their backs than with their bellies facing the shoppers. Some are simply very shy. They certainly don’t belong on the sales floor unless and until they overcome their introversion.
     I’ve also encountered store owners who show little enthusiasm about initiating a sale. These retailers seem burned out, and whatever momentum is keeping their business going is winding down. Protect your business by heading off burnout in yourself. Findings from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and University of Hong Kong support techniques like these:
  • Encourage shoppers to give you feedback 
  • Remind yourself of the importance of your store to the community 
  • Rearrange your tasks to add novelty 
     And sometimes the reluctance to sell well comes from a failure to genuinely believe in the sales claims you’re making. Recognizing this issue as important, researchers at Princeton University, University of Sydney, and McKinsey & Company-Paris outlined questions sellers can ask themselves to check for subconscious, potentially slippery bias. Here’s my version:
  • What information that you don’t have would you like to have in order to help you make more accurate claims for the product without losing what could be valuable selling opportunities? Get that information. 
  • Is your recommendation to a shopper based on what you’ve recommended to others? If so, check how those other recommendations worked out and that the situations are sufficiently similar. 
  • Are the numbers and stories you’re using in recommendations overall averages which mask a wide range or are extremes that mask typical situations? If so, come up with more representative numbers and stories. 
     Business researchers at Harvard University and University of Notre Dame analyzed instances in which retail businesses cheated customers. The researchers concluded that in many cases, the owners/operators did not intend to do wrong.
     Bring to mind the retailers you respect. Honor them, honor the best in yourself as a retailer, and honor salesmanship.

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

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Shy Away from Frightening Off Introverts
Prefer Order Getters to Order Takers
Burn Out Resignation of Skilled Staff
Inform Consent in Shoppers & Yourself
Impassion Yourself to Arouse Shoppers
Honor Salesmanship

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Slice the Selling Delays Thin

Thin slice judgments are assessments made on the basis of quickly presented samples. When shoppers decide if they want to do business with you within the first seconds of seeing you, those are thin slice judgments.
     Such assessments work because our brains are superb at finding patterns among a sample of narrow windows of experience and relating our current perceptions to our prior learning. Still, thin slice judgments do risk errors of prejudice.
     Marketing scholars at University of Maryland and Tilburg University wondered how thin slice advertising impressions work. The length of time a typical consumer spends absorbing the content of a typical ad has always been briefer than the advertiser would like. But the time has been getting even shorter because of the increased pace of contemporary life, the drive to save on marketing expenses, the use of technologies which allow zipping through an ad, and other factors.
     The results of the Maryland/Tilburg inquiries indicate you should get to the point when making your case to shoppers in ads or in face-to-face selling. Ads that promptly identified who the ad was for and why the consumer should pay attention earned positive attitudes. Ads in these studies which prolonged suspense about the sponsor and the benefits worked less well.
     In face-to-face selling, you’ve the opportunity to gather information from the prospect before making your pitch. But people will want you to get to the point once you do begin the pitch. They don’t want to spend time needlessly, and they get skittish if unsure about where you’re heading. To soothe the shopper’s nerves, start with a good subject line, stating what you plan to offer.
     Still, if you maintain some intrigue, there can be advantages to delay. Research findings from Indiana University and University of Colorado-Boulder show the value of a mystery ad format, in which you wait until the end to announce the retailer’s name. Start off with an unusual story or absurd humor which dramatizes the category of retailer and hooks the ad’s viewer or listener into thinking “Who’s this commercial for, anyway?”
     These mystery ads were significantly more effective than traditional ads in strengthening a name-category link in which consumers looking for items in a category would think about your store as the place to go.
     In any case, minimize distractions to selling. Like a skilled delicatessen server, always slice the baloney thin.

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

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Track the Trajectory of In-Store Impressions
Subject Shoppers to Compelling Subject Lines
Blank Out to Increase Consumption

Monday, December 5, 2016

Advance Consumer Benefits with Advance Ordering

The same person purchases differently when expecting future consumption rather than immediate consumption. Usually, the introduction of delivery delays results in higher quality choices.
     University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University researchers compared the calorie counts of meals ordered by students either before or after class, with the meal to be delivered right after class. Meals ordered before class averaged lower calories counts—especially when it came to desserts and beverages—than those meals ordered after class. Satisfaction with the ordered meal was similar for the two groups, so the upshot is that advance ordering resulted in healthier behavior.
     The delays in these studies varied between 30 minutes and three hours. When we move toward longer delays and move beyond edibles, we see additional evidence of longer-term benefits for the consumer when using advance ordering. Customers shopping for a product or service targeted for future consumption pay special attention to the distinctive features. But when they plan to put the item to work promptly, they're especially interested in ease of use. Researchers at University of Illinois and Korea University Business School explain that when, for instance, people are looking at software they'll start using in a few months, they give great weight to the range of capabilities of the software. However, if they plan to start using the software within a few days, their primary criterion is ease of learning the software.
     About one month prior to the graduation ceremony at a college, researchers at Columbia University and Singapore Management University described to groups of juniors and seniors at the college two sorts of apartments, then asked each of the students to say which apartment they’d prefer if actually renting it upon graduation.
  • A small apartment attractively decorated, with pretty views out the windows 
  • A large apartment located close to activities the graduate enjoys 
     The college seniors were more likely to select the first alternative than were the college juniors, whose graduation was further in the future. The researchers suspected this is because decisions on purchases consumers plan to use soon are based on emotional assessments. On the other hand, the research evidence suggested, if the consumers won’t be using the purchase for some time, they’ll place more importance on an objective, non-emotional assessment.
     Encouraging advance orders helps your store meet demand smoothly. It also smooths the way for your customers to achieve greater benefits in the long run.

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

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Accent the Emotions when Imminent Usage
Lend a Friendly Ear to Loan Debtors
Quote Measurement Units for Future Buys

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Shower Cold on Regretful Customers

“Throwing cold water on an idea” means to discourage its pursuit. “Taking a cold shower” is traditional advice for easing passions. And according to researchers at Washington State University, Ryerson University, and Canada’s Western University, a retailer offering cold temperatures to customers reduces any regrets the customers might have about purchases they recently made.
     When people experience regret—thinking more about what they might have done than what they actually did—they perceive their bodies becoming somewhat warmer. It’s related to the blushing we experience when embarrassed, ashamed, or just self-conscious. The consequence is an increased desire for merchandise and experiences which will cool us down. The researchers suggest that when offering for sale items or adventures which carry a risk a purchaser might later regret taking, turn down the store thermostat.
     Please note all this is true for “action regret,” a consumer reacting to actions they’ve taken, but not necessarily for “inaction regret,” a consumer thinking about missed opportunities because of a failure to take action. Inaction regret usually leads to wistfulness instead of guilt.
     Also note that there are times we’ll want to warm up the shoppers. Whenever shoppers experience rejection or loneliness, they’re ready to buy physical warmth. They feel cooler than do people who aren’t lonely. Studies at Purdue University, Tilburg University, VU University, and University of Milano-Bicocca indicate this is because lonely people are, in fact, physically colder. Experimental subjects who were rejected as suitable partners in a game showed reduced body temperatures, and lonely people reported feeling more comfortable when asked to hold a cup of warm tea or coffee.
     Researchers at NUS Business School in Singapore and University of Florida-Gainesville postulate all this is due to lonely consumers being mammals. From when mammals are very young, any sign of negative emotions produces a desire to be held close to get warmed up.
     Bear hugs from staff probably won’t work. Cranking up the heater could burn through your profitability. There would be the fuel cost plus the risk of chasing off shoppers who aren’t feeling cold at all. The way around this is to recognize that the research shows psychological warmth in a store also attracts lonely consumers.
     So to keep lonely shoppers receptive to purchasing more, keep them nicely warmed up. But to help all your customers close out doubts about their purchases and move on, consider offering them a cold beer.

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

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Dissect the Shopper’s Risk Tolerance
Aim Away from Shame
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Close Out the Purchase
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Monday, November 28, 2016

Space Out Large Assortment Displays

When a store display includes a large number of alternatives for the shopper to consider, items in a different category displayed just adjacent are less likely to be carefully considered for purchase. The University of California-San Diego, London Business School, and Bocconi University scientists who verified this say it happens because of shoppers’ limited attention. Selecting from among a large assortment consumes mental energy, and the customer who does choose will want a brief break for the brain afterwards. Using eye-tracking cameras, the scientists saw how customers look away from adjacent merchandise after picking an item from among many suitable alternatives.
     Arrange merchandise in your store so that product categories containing many different stock keeping units are buffered from each other. The buffer could be time. Items which are often purchased together, such as spaghetti and sauce or flashlights and batteries, are each stocked in different parts of the store. An advantage of this is how the shopper will cover more ground during the shopping trip, hopefully spotting more items to buy. However, the need to bounce all around your store could aggravate customers, particularly those in a hurry. Another way to maintain a buffer between large-alternative categories is with thick borders on shelves and empty areas on racks.
     Even the physical barrier method can be challenging when the available display space is constrained, such as on endcaps, in a freezer case, or at the checkout area. If you find it otherwise advantageous to have a large-assortment category display adjacent to another merchandise category in these settings, shelve categories appealing to different consumer target markets.
     Some years ago, researchers at University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University found that large product assortments attract shoppers to a store, but once there, many of the shoppers avoid making a purchase because they’re not sure what’s best. Because of indecision, they might leave the store.
     Then studies at Yale University, University of New South Wales, and Peking University indicated you can avoid this problem by encouraging the shopper to think in more abstract ways, such as about features the items have in common rather than considering each item in the choice as unique. Similarly, researchers at University of Delaware and University of Pennsylvania discovered that a way to keep shoppers engaged is to encourage them to focus on product features rather than item alternatives. With features in mind, shoppers rate alternatives until deciding.

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

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Lighten Up When Health Outweighs Taste

With food products, the color of packaging influences the opinion of what’s contained inside. Packages you carry on your shelves which include green in the label are more likely to be perceived as fresh. Show consumers from throughout the world green product packaging and you'll probably hear descriptions like new, organic, healthy, and refreshing. And pale package colors stimulate perceptions of lower calories with fewer additives, thereby also leading to consumer perceptions of healthfulness.
     But researchers at Kiel University and University of Dresden caution about going beyond the pale. Along with indicating a healthy choice, the lighter colors on a package can lead to expectations of weak flavor. This is more likely to happen when the shopper puts more importance on the taste of the food than on eating healthy.
     It’s also more likely when the shopper has not eaten that particular item before. Once they’ve tried it, the pale color of the package continues to imply healthfulness while the expectations of taste are influenced principally by the shopper’s past experiences having actually sampled the food.
     The tip for retailers: With food items where the appeal is to health, favor alternatives with light packaging colors. If such items don’t come to you from the supplier with light package colors, use pastels for your ads and store signage about the items.
     The shape of the package also plays into the perceptions. When purchasing a product associated with extra calories, there are shoppers who habitually prefer packages having an hourglass shape to those that are short and squat.
     And transparent versus opaque packing makes a difference. Researchers at Ohio State University and University of Texas-Austin found that for foods in large packages, opaque packaging with an illustration of the item resulted in higher sales. For foods with interesting colors or shapes sold in small packages, the likelihood of purchase and amount consumed increased with transparent packaging. However, an exception to this was with any vegetables which consumers thought of more for health benefits than for tastiness. Here, opaque packaging resulted in higher sales than did transparent packaging.
     A tradeoff between perceptions of healthiness and of tastiness is commonly seen with consumer research. In a set of University of Chicago studies, people assigned to eat a “healthy” food rated themselves as hungrier afterwards than did people assigned to eat a “tasty” food, yet all the samples were actually the same food item.

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

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Anticipate Black Friday Syndrome

Shoppers go crazy to varying degrees at Black Friday promotions, limited quantity sales, celebrity appearances, highly publicized releases of state-of-the-art merchandise, and other events which draw crowds to a store. Be ready for regression to more primitive behavior.
     Researchers at University of Nebraska-Lincoln observed adults shopping for fast fashion apparel which was in short supply. What the researchers saw was highly influenced by the shopper’s gender. The men were much more likely than the women to move along urgently, hunting for items that would be suitable, and then quickly retreating to the checkout station with their items in full view. Women were more likely to furtively gather the apparel they wanted, hoarding and even hiding their collected trove—behaviors more likely to lead to shoplifting.
     These gender differences between hunting and gathering resonate with humankind’s earliest history.
     Understand the psychology of crowds as part of preparing for having people fill your aisles at times your stock is in limited quantities:
  • If shoppers will be waiting in line to enter the store or department, have store staff wearing name tags talk to the shoppers. Invite those in line to fill out a sweepstakes form with their name and other identifying information. Because they lose some of their individual identity and therefore their sense of individual responsibility, people in crowds are driven to actions they would not take otherwise. Name-to-name contact can head this off. 
  • Distribute the special items throughout the shopping area. Your objective is to scatter out any crowding. When people are in crowds that they'd prefer to avoid, they get more likely to panic and strike out aggressively. 
     Scarcity does open opportunities for higher profit margins. In a classic consumer psychology study, participants were presented a set of Nabisco chocolate chip cookies and asked to answer questions like:
  • How attractive are the cookies? 
  • How much do you like the cookies? 
  • How much would you be willing to pay for one of these cookies? 
     For some participants, two cookies were presented, while for the others, ten cookies were there. Which group gave higher ratings to the attractiveness, liking, and price willingness? Yes, the group that saw only two cookies.
     Customers accept paying substantially more for items that are scarce, as long as the customers accept that the reason for the scarcity is genuine, such as when a state-of-the-art product is first introduced or with Black Friday deep price discounts.

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

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Release Those Pajamas from Purgatory

Studies at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro confirm what many of us suspect: People often consign certain possessions to a state between use and discard. The researchers refer to these collections, generally maintained either in the household or in storage lockers, as “purgatory.”
     Items in these collections are prime candidates for retailers to offer trade-ins or credits toward purchase of new items. Realize that if the consumer really didn’t want any item like that, they probably would have disposed of it. The fact that it’s in purgatory means it’s not quite right, but the consumer might very well be attracted to another item similar to it.
     The wrinkle, though, is that the researchers also found how consumers usually don’t think much about the particulars of the items in purgatory. When they consider them at all, it tends to be as “stuff I should decide someday what to do with” rather than “those pajamas with the Christmas tree designs, those earrings which are too large for my tastes, and….”
     To straighten out that wrinkle, be specific in your ad messages and with your face-to-face selling: “We’re having a great sale on pajamas, and we offer merchandise credit on gently used pajamas and other clothes you might have stored away.” Give prompts for different specific item categories at different store visits by shoppers and you’ll start them thinking what they can bring in to your store.
     But what to do with the used items? You might sell them or donate them.
     Successful resale takes planning. Unless your sole business is resale, reserve a section of your store for it. Auto dealers don’t mix new and used cars. For many consumers, used merchandise still holds a stigma. The stigma can rub off on new merchandise if it’s physically close to the used. There’s even evidence that having the same salesperson handle both the new and the used can decrease the willingness of the shopper to pay maximum price for unused items.
     Donating items adds a socially responsible angle which enhances temptation to release those pajamas from purgatory. You could donate directly to charities or to a retailer that sells used items and contributes a portion of the revenues to charity. Researchers at Georgia State University and Oklahoma State University say that, to maximize the effectiveness of an appeal to social responsibility, tell shoppers how even a single trade-in makes a difference.

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

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Break Bread to Curb Breaking Bad

When you and your customer eat sweet foods together, the potential for mutual persuasion can grow as fast as your waistlines, according to consumer researchers at University of Chicago. For it to work best in keeping sales negotiations from going wrong, the researchers add, you and the people you want to persuade should be eating the same sweet food.
     Many explanations for this effect come to mind: People are more open to being convinced when they’re feeling good, and sweet foods are pleasant. The act of eating slows down time, so there’s more opportunity for you to make your sales points. And psychologists working in fields called “embodied cognition” and “ideomotor action” might propose that the action of chewing food potentiates a desire to talk things over. After all, we think of family dinners as places to share experiences.
     It’s the shared experiences which form the core of the Chicago researchers’ explanation. In this case, it’s the shared experience of having eaten the same food. Shoppers are more likely to trust and then purchase products and services from providers who they believe are similar to them.
     Putting this into action when it comes to eating the same foods could take the form of you serving snacks to your shoppers and, when they partake, you taking a bit from the same serving dish and chomping down. But there are loads of situations and a number of reasons this won’t always work. Fortunately, the Chicago researchers found it to be nearly as effective for the salesperson to talk about having eaten the same sorts of foods a shopper says they eat.
     Or you could talk about other commonalities. Researchers at University of British Columbia and INSEAD Singapore set up a study in which a personal trainer offered a fitness program to prospective enrollees. Participants who believed the fitness instructor was born on the same day as them became more likely to rate a sample program highly and to sign up for a membership. And dental patients who believed they were born in the same place as their dentist were more likely to rate their care highly and to schedule future appointments at that clinic.
     Let shoppers know the birthdays and hometowns of your sales staff. Many hospitality retailers include hometown information on their employees' name badges, and some retailers announce the birthdays of floor employees loudly and proudly in the store.

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

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Relax Customers of Negotiated Price Items
Limit Mouth-Watering Evaluations
Push Shopping Baskets’ Pull for Sweet Items
Announce Commonalities with Shoppers

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Feed All the Rage

As the 2016 campaign for U.S. president dragged on, concerns in certain quarters brewed about dramatic increases in the frequency and intensity of bullying and interpersonal rage between America’s children. An NPR inquiry concluded that the fears were based much more on scattered anecdotal reports than on statistical evidence of verifiable trends. Still, to the degree that Trump versus Clinton emboldened people to express verbal and physical aggression, we should expect increases in the times ahead of bullying and rage among our adults as well as our children. If rage becomes all the rage, prepare to deal with it in your business.
     Researchers at West Virginia University, University of Rhode Island, and East Carolina University verified the destructive effects of shoppers losing their tempers. The effects often extended beyond the immediate outburst. The research uncovered many instances in which a store visitor letting loose with rage was so ashamed afterwards that they didn’t want to return to shop there again. Future business was jeopardized.
     In addition, once the rage was unleashed, it wasn’t only a matter of customers bullying each other. In the studies, there were instances of customers joining forces around some real or fabricated slight and proceeding to bully the sales staff. It could be nice when your shoppers commiserate together, but you certainly don’t want your valued store employees enduring sarcasm, taunts, or worse.
     The research findings indicate a few unsurprising tips for you to avoid setting off the rage: Give store visitors ample space to move around if frustrated and don’t keep people waiting in line for assistance or to check out with their purchases. Then there was one tip you might not expect: Keep your shoppers from getting hungry. With food inside the belly, retail shoppers become more likely to keep anger inside, too.
     You might accomplish this by including a restaurant or deli in your store. This one works best when the food selections fit the personality of the merchandise and the store location. Or you could partner with a restaurant close by. Have them give coupons for a small discount from you, and you give coupons for an equivalent discount when dining at the restaurant and ordering an item you have flagged as reinforcing your store’s theme. At special events where crowding and waits are likely, offer theme-based foods in ways consistent with your local regulations for serving food to the public.

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

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Prevent Store Brand Sabotage
Provide Group Support with Customer Discomfort
Mirror Responsibility at Complaint Desks
Naturalize Citizens to Serve Your Store
Feed Shoppers’ Hunger Consistently

Monday, November 7, 2016

Hand Off Intended Hands-Off Items

Most consumer behavior experts I’ve encountered are familiar with the tale of the fresh egg in the cake mix: In the 1940’s, when Pillsbury introduced cake mixes to which the cook needed to add only water, sales were disappointing. Only after the recipe was changed to require the cook to add a fresh egg were the products fully accepted. That was because women felt guilty not participating at all in the crafting of the cake. They didn’t want to be so hands-off.
     Now, of the consumer behavior experts I’ve encountered who know this tale, many of them realize it’s not completely true. First, sales of cake mixes requiring the addition of only water were not disappointing. Housewives in the years during and after World War II sought cooking simplicity. But it is true that sales climbed notably when instructions were changed to “Blend in a fresh egg.”
     And the explanation is incomplete. Chefs agree a cake mix with a fresh egg produces a tastier outcome than one with only dried egg which has been rehydrated. However, the explanation of resistances towards hands-off is not wrong either. It was a factor, research indicates. Consumers by and large enjoy adding their own ingredients when using purchases.
     Studies at University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria and at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands extrapolate those indications to our current era of The Internet of Everything in which our devices take over decision making and then, based on analyzing the results, get progressively better at it.
     The overall finding is that consumers are more likely to purchase smart products that enable them to easily intervene, even when they’ve no intention of intervening in the actions of the product. The motivation goes beyond a concern about safety, as with a self-driving car. The motivation is so deep, in fact, that it springs from a desire to preserve meaning in our lives. Consistent with this, the studies indicate that people are more willing to accept hands-off items when the item reveals its reasoning and intentions at the expense of the efficiency of the item’s functioning.
     As might be expected, the consumers in the studies who were most likely to trust the hands-off items were those most open to innovation. In you introducing such items at retail, look for the Respectable Early Adopters who say, “I want a taste of where the world is heading.”

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

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Cojoin the Stages of Coproduction
Encourage Customers to Be Innovative

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Delay Assumptions About Fast Shipping

A competitive advantage your bricks-and-mortar retail store can offer when compared to online ordering is that the purchaser can walk right out immediately with what you’re carrying in-store. Yet the small to midsize store retailer also benefits from taking special orders, even though this means a delivery delay to account for shipping time. It would seem you’d always want to assure your shopper this delay is as short as possible. However, a longer wait time is sometimes to the benefit of both the retailer and the customer.
     Researchers at Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Rice University say that offering ground shipping, as opposed to overnight shipping, increases the probability that consumers will decide to purchase a higher quality product rather than a counterpart at the middle price range. This effect is consistent with a broad range of studies showing how people think differently about buying when the purchase is for right now than for the future. They pay attention to different features depending upon when they plan to start using the purchase. If usage is planned for soon, ease of use is especially important. If usage is planned for the future, distinctive features are especially important. Moreover, savoring a purchase which won’t arrive for a while often gives the consumer pleasure in itself.
     Consumers who are gathering information for future use tend to process measurement information in terms of units rather than numbers. Let’s say you need to tell the purchaser about a delay. When is it better to say, “Your product will be arriving in three weeks, not one week,” and when should you use, “Your product will be arriving in 21 days instead of 7”?
     If the customer is anxiously awaiting the arrival in order to start using the item, favor the first wording. In this case, the customer is looking for small. If the customer’s focus is instead on, “I made the purchase then because it was a great price, but I won’t be using the item right away,” describe the delay in terms of days.
     Sexual cues lengthen the subjective time interval until an item is delivered, according to studies at University of Southern California and University of Pennsylvania. Waiting for your special shipment of lingerie to arrive will seem longer than waiting for your special shipment of cashews. That is, unless you’re one of those people who find cashews to be really sexy.

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

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Quote Measurement Units for Future Buys
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Monday, October 31, 2016

Profit from De Love of Delebs

Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, more than 5,000 Elvis-related products were being sold at retail and more than 600,000 tickets were being sold each year to tour Graceland Mansion, Elvis’s best-known home.
     Maybe no one else will ever achieve the postmortem brand success of Elvis Presley, who remains larger than life even after death. But Elvis does not roam alone. Delebs—dead celebrities—are such an important marketing aid that Forbes regularly publishes a list of the top earners. Researchers at Howard University, after pointing out how the total annual licensing and royalty revenues for Delebs is about $2.25 billion, explored why we hold such dear love for these departed whose marketing prowess refuses to die.
     One driver is contagious magic—the belief, often subconscious, that an item associated with a specific person will transfer some of the qualities of that person to anyone who grasps the object. But the key driver is not contagious magic. It is nostalgia. And then maximum effectiveness for selling requires the power of imagination. We want to pretend the celebrity is still with us.
     Technologies like virtual reality, digital morphing, and text-to-speech reduce dependence on live impersonators. But Deleb marketing researchers have also seen how potential customers get creeped out if the imitation is not just right. That is, when we can’t tell whether a representation of a human is real or not, we experience revulsion. If it looks exactly like the dead celebrity, we’re attracted to it. If it looks similar, but we can easily tell it’s not real, we’re amused. However, when the resemblance is very close, but we’re not sure if it’s real, a primeval fear flares up. That dip in the positive emotion is why scientists call it the uncanny valley.
     Other research touches on the appeal of Delebs coming from a fascination with death itself. Consider all the time consumers have been spending thinking about zombies and vampires.
     If your tastes are not tuned quite enough in that direction or your business pockets deep enough to license the rights to have a Deleb endorse your store, you can still join the march by carrying brands that use Delebs in marketing. There’s reason to think such endorsements are a little more effective at times of the year associated with the ghoulish (Halloween), rebirth (New Year’s Day, Easter), and death itself (Memorial Day, Day of the Dead).

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

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Creep Out Shoppers, But Explain
Shadow Dark Tourism

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Reinvigorate Heirloom Value Presale

People purchase merchandise for what it means as well as what it is. The meaning of some items is so significant and so lasting that they become what consumer psychologists call “sacred goods,” with owners valuing them in ways reminiscent of the valuing of religious relics. Family heirlooms are often considered sacred goods.
     If you obtain those items and then offer them to shoppers at an estate sale or pawn shop, let’s say, the heirloom value probably evaporates. Researchers at Université Lille in France and Bilkent University in Turkey recommend you rejuvenate the heirloom value so you can net more for the items.
     The methods for accomplishing this depend on you presenting the items in ways that relate the potential purchaser’s past, present, and future. Asking the person to talk about their own history as they hold the items can help. While doing this, your comments on the craftsmanship shown in the items add effectiveness. For some consumers and with appropriate items, an expert appraisal of an item’s worth instills heirloom value.
     Heighten the appeal with a backstory. Products sell better when each item comes with a tale to give it distinction. Retailers of antiques, art objects, and handmade crafts find that easier to do than those who sell toasters or toilet paper. Yet, if the toaster or toilet paper was previously considered an heirloom, an intriguing backstory about why could bring this value back to life.
     How you’ve stored the items makes a difference. If a pawn shop or self-storage business looks run down and lacking good security, shoppers might question how well you’ve treasured what you’re describing to them as treasures.
     Another perspective on increasing profits from the sale of heirloom items is to persuade sellers to reduce asking prices. Here you run into the endowment effect: People set a higher value on objects they own than on equivalent objects they do not.
     Findings from Boston University and University of Pittsburgh suggest you mobilize empathy to ease disagreements from the endowment effect. When you empathize with the consumer wanting to sell you an item, acknowledge the special value the item has to them, and promise you’ll find a good home for their sacred possession, you’ve set the groundwork for fruitful negotiations. Some researchers at University of Kansas, University of Georgia, and University of South Carolina propose you start by telling the owner what a wonderful family they have.

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

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Squirrel Away Profits from Discard Reluctance
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Back the Appeal with a Backstory
Empathize to Ease the Endowment Effect
Appeal to Nostalgia

Monday, October 24, 2016

Exploit Preteen Shopping Desires Ethically

An opportunity to recall the importance of social responsibility when selling to young consumers is provided by the marketing of cosmetics to preteen girls.
     Researchers at New Zealand’s University of Otago, noting this marketing, sought to understand the buyer motivation. Female study participants ages 6 to 12 years drew two pictures and then described each picture, one picture of a preteen girl who owned makeup and the other picture and description of a child who did not. The overall conclusion was that preteen cosmetics use is perceived by children as increasing popularity and snobbishness. The study participants believed preteen girls who decide to use cosmetics are happy with that decision.
     But what is the effect on the body image of children who see the decorated preteen? Among the youngest observers, there’s probably no harm. For instance, researchers at Ghent University found that children ages 6 to 7 years placed extra trust in ads featuring preteens the children considered to be attractive, but seeing these preteens had no effect on the children’s perceived self-worth or ratings of their own attractiveness.
     However, adult females are sensitive to comparative attractiveness. For example, an Arizona State University, University of British Columbia, and University of Alberta study reported that when a woman who is unsure about her appearance tries on a dress and then sees a pretty saleswoman wearing the same dress, the shopper loses interest in buying it. A Stockholm School of Economics study discovered that female shoppers give higher ratings to fashion items on models whose heads aren’t shown at all.
     Preteens are between the little kids and the adults, so promoting the sale of cosmetics in your retail store could foster social disadvantage for the preteens who choose—or whose caretakers choose—not to partake.
     If you do decide to exploit the preteen purchase motivation for appearance enhancement merchandise, keep in mind two research-based tips when selling to this age group:
  • Preteens are more likely than teens to look to adults as role models. This is true even though the preteen may prefer to associate with age peers than with the immediate family. This means that preteens are still listening carefully to the advice of adult salespeople, even if they argue with the advice. 
  • Preteens usually have a strong sense of right and wrong. They’ll consider as product benefits that the makeup wasn’t tested on animals or produced with child labor. 
For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

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Get A Head, Except for Ladies’ Clothing
Prepare for Selling to Preteens
Employ Purchase Triggers for Children

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Worm Your Way into WOM with Self-Discovery

Show your shoppers a gift box being slowly opened, and their evaluations of what’s inside the box will be more positive than if you just showed them the item. This pleasure-from-watching-a-striptease is so compelling that researchers from Chinese University of Hong Kong saw it operate even if the box is absolutely empty. In this case, the observers of the unveiling liked the empty box itself more, on average, than an equivalent set of consumers who were just shown the box.
     Researchers at University of Miami and University of Pennsylvania saw a parallel effect when it came to word-of-mouth—influential information told to a consumer who then shares it with others. We might think of WOM as occurring only among family and friends. But it also could include a trusted salesperson telling a shopper about the salesperson’s experiences.
     The researchers saw that customers are substantially more likely to pass information on to others when they have found at least some of that information on their own. In addition to the thrill of discovery, a major reason for this is that we associate discovered information with our self-image. We’re less likely to criticize the information as unfounded or uninteresting. If the information is in written form, we’re less likely to be put off by spelling and grammatical errors when we believe we came across it through our own initiative. These differences between self-discovered and other-presented effects on WOM are greatest with consumers who consider themselves to be experts in the product category. This is probably because the perception of expertise boosts the centrality of one’s self-image.
     The advice for retailers is to build your shoppers’ expertise and encourage them to uncover for themselves positive news about your store and the items you carry.
     Similarly, when a set of purchase alternatives would all satisfy the shopper’s basic specifications, the shopper prefers those alternatives they discover for themselves over those initially presented by the salesperson. Researchers at Miami University, University of Northern British Columbia, and University of Alberta gave consumers hints as to suitable items, but kept those items out of sight until specifically asked by the consumer to see them or try them out. The tease ended up making those items favored over suitable items initially presented in full view to the consumer.
     When you realize an item can meet a shopper’s objectives, facilitate the shopper discovering that for themselves.

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

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Unwrap Purchase Alternatives Seductively
Have Shoppers Share Word-of-Mouth with You
Arouse Emotions to Drive Online Sharing

Monday, October 17, 2016

Swing Low, Sweet Anchor Points

A perennial bugaboo for consumer behavior researchers is that people act differently in the laboratory than in the marketplace. Some of it has to do with the nature of the study participants. Most laboratory experiments are conducted with college students, but store customers and potential donors range more widely in age. And in the lab, the participants are often asked to pretend they’re spending their money or contributing to a charity, not actually doing it.
     Researchers at New York University and University of California-Berkeley decided to face down the bugaboo in their exploration of a consumer behavior phenomenon considered to be as stable as an anchor—the anchor effect: To decide if a price is high or low, shoppers set in their mind an anchor for what they consider to be a proper price. To have the customer purchase a higher-priced item, move the anchor point higher, it’s said.
     But the researchers found how the anchor effect can, in reality, be as moveable as a chariot. In four laboratory experiments where participants were asked to spend hypothetical money, the anchor effect worked robustly across price points. Yet in a total of sixteen experiments where the participants were asked to spend their own money for real, the anchor effect operated well only at what people considered to be low price points. In addition, the researchers verified that the anchor effect is strongest when consumers aren’t clear about how much to pay or donate and are looking for cues.
     So keep the anchors relatively low. Still, do provide them. In a pricing study conducted by researchers at University of California-San Diego, University of California-Berkeley, University of Amsterdam, and Friedrich Schiller University, people who were photographed riding a rollercoaster were invited to purchase the photo. All the people were told the regular price was $15. Then the prospects got one of three offers. Some were offered the photo at the regular price of $15. A second group was offered the photo for $5. A third group was invited to set their own price.
     People offered the $5 price were most likely to purchase the photo. We do love a bargain. Surprisingly, the group invited to set their own price were the least likely to buy. Why? They feared appearing stingy, so without the anchor of $5 as okay to pay, the “quote your own” group often chose not to buy at all.

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

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Anchor Browsers onto Higher Prices
Encourage Customers to Pay What’s Right

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Grouch If Store Reviews Are Grouch-Free

Encouraging criticism of your store may seem like a strange way to attract customers. But a substantial stream of consumer behavior research finds that a sprinkling of negative reviews adds believability to the positives. Shoppers say that when there is no mention in the reviews of areas for improvement, the shoppers’ trust in the reviews fades. Further, when the shopping decision is an important one, reviews that include both strong positives and a few negatives will develop curiosity in prospective shoppers. The curiosity can lead to the shoppers wanting to check things out for themselves at your store or website. When positives far outweigh negatives, you’ve won a customer.
     Studies at Israel Institute of Technology, Open University of Israel, and Tel Aviv University discovered that a few one-star reviews also help when the shopping decision is more routine. However, the reason it works is different than with the significant decisions. Here the reason has to do with the fact that most consumers like getting less important purchase decisions completed promptly, but feel a need to do at least some evaluation. The researchers found that reading a few grouchy reviews among an abundance of highly positive ones leads shoppers to conclude they’ve done their homework. In the studies, the comment accompanying the one-star rating was largely irrelevant to important purchase criteria. It was the rating itself rather than the relevance of the criticism which gave the shopper a sense of adequate vigilance.
     The position of the grouch in the sequence of reviewers also counts. Researchers at Stanford University and Tel Aviv University considered the case of restaurant reviews in which the positives are highly favorable about the food and ambience, while the negative is about a less central criterion, such as the ease of parking. The finding is that when consumers encounter that type of negative review after a few of the positive reviews, reading the negative makes the positives especially influential.
     Should you encourage grouches to identify themselves? Yes. When consumers reading a negative review are unsure about the identity of a negative reviewer, they often assume the reviewer is like them, adding credibility to the review. When a negative reviewer is clearly identified and the consumers have already developed positive feelings about the store, the consumers often emphasize to themselves the ways in which they are different from the reviewer so the consumers can discount the negative review.

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

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Encourage Balanced Customer Reviews
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Look Simple, But Offer Complexity
Have Comfort with Shoppers’ Decision Comfort
Encourage Reviewers to Identify Themselves

Monday, October 10, 2016

Back Away from Backup Plans

The availability of smoking cessation programs can lead to people smoking more, since the people get the impression they can stop anytime they choose to. And once a consumer has gone through a debt consolidation program, that consumer may become more likely to spend irresponsibly, since the consumer figures he can go through a debt consolidation program again. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania, University of Florida, and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill point out how backup plans—in this case, what is called remedy marketing—can have unintended consequences.
     A set of studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Pennsylvania expanded the scope of this finding, applying it to work life. People were asked to complete tasks with a promise of rewards for successful achievement. Some of the participants were also encouraged to develop backup plans for how they might obtain equivalent payoffs if failing to get them from the study conditions. Those participants with backup plans did less well on the tasks and showed lower drive to get the reward.
     Back away from your backup plans long enough to assess for unintended consequences, such as impaired motivation.
     It could be that taking the energy to formulate the plan eats up resources you’d otherwise devote to getting the job done right off. A number of consumer studies have shown this kind of effect with results equally surprising to those critical of contingency thinking. Duke University, UCLA, and University of Florida researchers found that people who carry around the store shopping lists they created in advance—the consumer trying to remember what they need and what the store carries—end up more likely to make purchases they will later regret than do people who don’t make a shopping list in advance. The explanation is that creating a shopping list from memory uses mental energy. Every shopper has a limited pool of mental energy, and when a great deal of it is consumed in making the list, there is less mental energy remaining to resist the foolish, unhealthy, even sinful items.
     But the Pennsylvania / Florida / North Carolina team conclude there’s more to it when it comes to the dangers of backup plans. The problems arise because of overdependence on the plans. The researchers recommend backing away in another sense as well: Once you’ve developed the plan, distance yourself from it unless and until you need to implement it.

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

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Check for Unintended Consequences
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Forget About It When It Comes to Failures

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Conk Coke Change Concerns

It’s hard to imagine any marketing expert failing to know what happened April 23, 1985. Oh, they might not recognize the specific date, but they’re bound to recall the unveiling of New Coke® to a world which promptly rejected the reformulation of an American classic.
     The error made by The Coca-Cola Company was overlooking Coke’s nostalgia appeal. You won’t want to make such an error when introducing changes in your retail business. Researchers at Ithaca College and Kent State University documented how nostalgia is generally a sales draw, but when the object of the nostalgia changes significantly and suddenly, your most ardent fans will be repelled. Further, those consumers motivated to shop with you because of nostalgia are substantially more likely than the less nostalgic to consider even moderate changes as significant.
     Lead customers through changes gradually, advise researchers at University of Minnesota, Emory University, and George Mason University. Determine where you want to end up, and if this ending point is quite different from where you are now, introduce at least one intermediate step. If you currently sell paint and you want to end up adding draperies, consider introducing wallpaper first. If you plan to phase out your entire stock of draperies, reduce the product assortment for a while before eliminating the product category completely.
     Because of what occurred on April 23, 1985 and continuing for 79 days until the original formula was reintroduced, the term “New Coke” has come to characterize a huge marketing failure. Using the term that way distorts the true story: Starting in 1970, the market share for Coca-Cola was decreasing as the market share for Pepsi increased. By 1985, The Coca-Cola Company’s investors and directors were pushing for change. The reformulation was to one preferred overall to the old formula in taste tests administered to a total of about 200,000 consumers. This wasn’t a move based on whim.
     And when the error was remedied 79 days later, with the original formula being reintroduced, New Coke stayed on the market as an additional source of revenue in the company’s portfolio for a time, with the market share of that portfolio growing mightily in the months following the controversy because of all the publicity.
     Even if do you reach too far making changes to your retail business, leverage the nostalgia appeal by acknowledging your fans. Rein in the change so that the transformation is gradual.

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

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Adjust Merchandising to News Events
Lead Your Customers Through Changes Gradually
Create Lasting Memories of Your Store
Appeal to Nostalgia
Let Go of Irritating Brand Extensions

Monday, October 3, 2016

Consider Karma in Contributions

Karma is a belief system centered on long-term consequences. As we look forward in our lives, the decisions we make now affect what happens to us in the future. Good actions will produce good results at some point. Turning to look behind, we’ll see that what is going on with us now is the result of our past. The thoughts we’ve had, the words we’ve said, the actions we’ve taken, the deeds we’ve instructed others to take on our account or while under our control.
     It would seem that, among those holding these beliefs, an appeal to karmic rewards would resonate. Researchers at University of Louisville and University of California-Riverside find that it does, yet with a complication: People with strong beliefs in karma contribute money more generously to charities when the appeal is the opportunity to help others. But the same sorts of people are, in fact, less likely to contribute time to charitable activities when there is a sales pitch about the karma. The reason is that contributions of time are perceived as opportunities for social companionship and forging business connections. These strike many believers in karma as tawdry cheating, gains for oneself masquerading as selfless sacrifice.
     Time and money are also perceived differently in sales transactions, including among those who do not believe in karma. One summer, University of South Carolina researchers offered theatre patrons a movie pass. For about half of the patrons, getting the movie pass required completing a survey, which took about seven minutes. So that the researchers could compare time with money, a matching set of patrons were offered the movie pass for $3—no survey completion required. And about half the tickets in each group were marked for use later that summer. The others were marked for use the following fall.
     For those who spent the $3, the percentage of fall ticket usage was the same as that for the summer tickets. But among the patrons who earned their ticket by spending seven minutes of time, the season of usage made a big difference. People were significantly more likely to end up using the ticket if marked for the summer than if marked for the fall.
     Yet time isn’t so perishable for those believing in karma. They’re more patient and persistent when resolving complaints about retailers. One sign to them they’ve been good is that they finally receive good customer service.

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

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