Thursday, January 21, 2016

Share the Decision Discomfort

When friends are all shopping together, there are some members of the group who will seek out what's different from what others are selecting. Therefore, it's useful for you to have sufficient variety in each of the product types you carry. Others will want to buy exactly what their friends are buying, so it's useful for you to have enough stock of the particular items.
     Then there are the group members who agonize over whether to be a conformist or an individualist, wrestling with themselves about the tradeoffs. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania and Ono Academic College discovered that when one of the shoppers does this, it has a predictable effect on the others: The friends become more likely to select whatever the agonizer ends up picking. The researchers say it’s because the others empathize with the indecisive shopper.
     Because this process speeds up the sales transactions for the group as a whole, it is to your advantage, retailer, to spread the news of the discomfort. Ask the shopper to discuss those tradeoffs with their shopping partners. Doing this carries the bonus benefit of the shopper reducing social risk barriers to buying. The social risk question is, “If the people I admire know I'm using this product or service, am I in danger of falling out of favor with them?”
     There’s also the “misery loves company” consideration. The Pennsylvania/Ono researchers realized the discomfort of public indecision is more than trivial. Social psychologists at Vanderbilt University have verified that when we’re in stressful circumstances, being with others suffering the same fate provides support that boosts our tolerance. People can complain to each other and commiserate. They find comfort in their social bonds.
     But if the sharing of indecision pain goes on for too long, you’ll want to rein it in. Research findings from University of South Carolina, Loyola University, and Baruch College suggest that one tool you have for doing this is the phrasing of a certain preferences question:
  • If you ask your shopper, “What about this product do you like that your friends would also like?,” this prompts individual distinctiveness, since it puts your shopper in the role of advisor and perhaps opinion leader. 
  • On the other hand, if you ask your shopper, “What about this product do your friends like and you also like?,” this prompts the shopper to think about the comfort of adhering to group preferences. 
For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Expect Shopper Conformity & Variety Seeking
Ease Social Risk by Accommodating Shyness
Provide Group Support with Customer Discomfort
Offer Variations to Ease Fear of Conformity

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