Monday, May 30, 2016

Show Online What’s in Store

Overall, ecommerce retailers who also maintain a bricks-and-mortar store average higher ecommerce sales than those without the B&M. There are a number of reasons for this, such as shoppers’ perceptions that it will be easier to address any problems which come up post-purchase and the attractiveness to consumers of being able to choose among purchase channels. But one often-overlooked reason is that when the consumer knows you’ve an actual store, not just a virtual one, they trust you more.
     This is according to researchers from Florida State University, Saint Mary’s College of California, York University, and Lieberman Research Worldwide. As evidence, the researchers show how differences between ecommerce sales with or without a B&M partner are especially high for unknown retailers. They also are higher when the B&M store is physically distant from the shopper rather than across town.
     Based on these findings, the researchers recommend that you show on your ecommerce pages photos of your store building and the name of the store owner. In the studies, these reduced the feelings of psychological distance and increased interest in shopping through the online channel.
     Other research finds that photos of the store interior and store staff, not just the building, have similar positive effects. But you’ll want to be sure the store looks worth trusting and the people have a reputation for being trusted.
     A while back, study results at Loyola University-New Orleans found a number of instances in which stores named after the owner garnered less consumer trust than other stores. Mike’s Auto Repair was less trusted than Downtown Auto Repair, all else being equal.
     It would seem that including the owner’s name would generate trust instead of disrupting it. People prefer to conduct transactions with other identified people rather than with anonymous organizations. It’s nicer to know who you’re dealing with. It’s one of the many advantages locally-based retailers can offer.
     The explanation for the surprising finding was in the degree to which the consumers didn’t trust retailers in general. For those who thought most store owners are out to rip you off, the mistrust antennae were activated when they saw the owner identified in the store name. But this was not true for consumers who weren’t highly suspicious of retailers.
     When you choose to include your name in the name of your store and include both on your ecommerce site, earn and maintain the trust of prospective customers.

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

Click below for more: 
Capture Multichannel Shoppers
Educate Staff to Educate Shoppers
Analyze Rather Than Reject Surprising Findings
Buttress Trust with Clarity

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Count On the Nuisance in Counting

Devices for monitoring our healthy behaviors—such as exercising—subtract from the enjoyment of the behaviors. Across six experiments at Duke University, consumers using devices to tabulate the amount of their walking or their reading increased the amount of the activity compared to consumers not using such devices. What gets measured does get done. But the counting consumers enjoyed the activities less. They expressed obligation rather than accomplishment.
     Part of the explanation is satiation. People who do more of the same activity come to enjoy it less. But the evidence is that the conscious tabulation itself adds nuisance.
     Researchers at University of Minnesota and Texas A&M University asked college students to eat. No problem getting volunteers, I imagine. Among the available snacks were the relatively healthful—nuts, raisins, granola bars—and the relatively indulgent—M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s chocolate.
     A set of the study participants were asked to count the number of times they swallowed, using a clicker. Others were not asked to click. The result of clicking was that the indulgent snacks were enjoyed less, and the students felt less drive to eat those snacks.
     The lesson for restaurateurs and other retailers is to realize that bringing close attention to consuming or using an indulgence makes it less attractive to the consumer. The clicker effect held for those with low self-control more than for those with high self-control. How to tell if your shoppers have high or low self-control? Watch and listen for the signs.
     Clicking through a list has a similar effect. I’m thinking about how sometimes what a customer buys includes a sequence of unpleasant experiences. The retailer isn’t selling the unpleasantness, but it’s inevitable in order to accomplish the positives.
  • A carpet store requires the purchaser to prepare for the installation by moving items and then, after installation, moving items back into place. 
  •  In applying for membership to a prestigious country club, the prospect must not only gather the funds for the dues, but also complete forms and coax references. 
  • To undergo a medical procedure, the patient needs to carry out a set of steps both before the procedure and afterwards. 
     To be sure all the steps are completed properly, the retailer would do well to compile and present a list. However, researchers at University of Toronto find that when consumers tick off the steps, it ticks them off about the whole experience.

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

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Monitor Your Progress Toward Objectives
Limit Availability to Overcome Satiation
Be Alert for the Effects of Shopper Attention!
Unpack Unpleasant Experience Time Estimates
Round Up Benefits for the Shopper

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rein In Extremeness Aversion

In the research laboratory, as in your retail store, when consumers are presented with a good-better-best array, some of those consumers will be drawn to the middle alternative and others will be drawn to one or the other of the extremes. The research findings and the in-store experience indicate that this tendency lasts throughout a shopping trip. The person who avoids the extremes on the first choice mostly does the same for the other items on the shopping list. The person who goes for one or the other of the extremes at the start tends to stay with that choice strategy.
     Researchers at Stanford University and University of Florida-Gainesville say there are genetic influences in whether a shopper avoids or embraces compromise choices. Knowing this could be helpful to you when your customer base includes families. If you find a tendency in one family member shopping with you, expect to find it in others.
     Researchers at Northwestern University, University of South Australia, and University of New South Wales were more interested in determinants in the shopping situation than in heredity. After reviewing 142 studies, they said that, overall, a middle alternative is more likely to be selected than one at either end. But shoppers are drawn to choosing one or the other extreme when the salesperson describes price-quality tradeoffs that are simple to understand or the shopper is picking a pleasure-oriented nondurable item, such as fashion clothing.
     Individual research studies provide two more pointers for retailers who find it best for the customer to select one or the other extreme to purchase:
  • Research findings from University of Hong Kong and National University of Singapore indicate that when a customer appears to be in an upbeat mood, they’re more likely to select either the first or the last alternative you propose than to select a middle alternative. So help the shopper get upbeat. 
  • Trim off the extreme extremes in your sales presentation. When the weightlifter loads up the barbell for a total 130 lb. lift, they’ll put the 50 lb. weights on first, then the 10 lb. weights outside the 50 lb. ones, and then the 5 lb. weights outside the 10 lb. ones. Keep the shape of that barbell in mind. When you are wanting your shoppers to move out from the center, only a minority will move all the way out to highest luxury or deepest discount alternatives. 

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

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Attend to Genetic Influences in Selling
Strengthen the Price-Quality Link
Influence the Compromise Choice Process
Strengthen Your Barbell Retailing
Go Fourth in a Five-Item Horizontal Choice

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Augment Discount Appeal with Requests

When you tell a customer they’re receiving a price discount, they’ll build good will toward your store. If you add that the discount isn’t available to every other customer, the good will might be even greater. But do be aware that your announcement could make the customer uncomfortable. Be consistent and be ready to explain the reason for the discount. Otherwise, the customer can get angry, thinking that your store pricing is highly arbitrary or even discriminatory. Consumer behavior research studies suggest that for North American consumers, you make the reason either demographic (“A 10% discount to senior citizens”) or marketing-determined (“A 10% discount to first-time purchasers”).
     For Asian consumers and those identifying with an Asian culture, attributing the discount to good luck can be useful as long as you explain that the luck was earned by some action the shopper took. Researchers from Baruch College, University of California-Berkeley, and San Francisco State University surprised people with promotional gifts. Those from the United States enjoyed their surprise 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.
     An earning action could be doing a favor for the retailer. In a set of studies at Georgetown University and Pennsylvania State University across a range of shopping situations, consumers were offered discounts on a purchase. In some cases, the offer was accompanied by a request for a favor to be done by the shopper. Those consumers asked to do the favor were more likely to accept the discounted offer than were those not presented the request.
     But participants in these studies were not just people identifying with Asian cultures. What’s the explanation of this “favor request effect” for the others? The researchers say it’s a feeling of reciprocity. Doing the favor provides a perception that the shopper is getting the best deal possible.
     In a Santa Clara University study, psychology students topped a table with Rice Krispy Treats. When a shopper coming by asked the price, the salesperson would go get a fresh treat, in some cases knocking over a cup of pens, making it look like an accident. Among the consumers who were asked the favor of picking up the pens, about 70% purchased the treat. This contrasts with a 36% rate when no favors were done or requested.

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

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Mug for Shoppers Who Buy Distinction
Give the Gift of Uncertainty, Love
Request Reciprocity
Favor Reciprocity with a Ben Franklin Effect

Monday, May 16, 2016

Abandon Discard of Damaged Packages

An unusually shaped container attracts attention, say University of Southern California researchers. However, replies a set of researchers from California State University-Los Angeles, University of British Columbia, and Carleton University in Ontario, Canada, attention doesn’t always increase sales. If the container’s shape hints at damage, then shoppers avoid purchasing it. In the studies, imperfections as minor as a torn package label were sufficient to sabotage sales.
     Researchers at University of Georgia and University of Pennsylvania add that if a package looks incomplete, consumers will conclude it holds a lower quantity compared to packages of equivalent size and weight but without blanks in the design. It’s as if the missing portion generates feelings in the consumer that part of the contents leaked out, leaving less behind.
     Perceived damage even leads to a wasteful hesitation to recycle. In studies at Boston University and University of Alberta, participants were asked to evaluate a pair of scissors. Some were instructed to cut one or two sheets of paper as part of the evaluation. The others were instructed to conduct the evaluation without cutting the paper. Afterwards, each participant was told to discard the paper as they left. By the door were two identical bins, one for trash and one for recycling.
     The people recycled whole sheets of paper much more often than the pieces which had been cut. Damage led to trashing.
     How can retailers head off their own resigned discard of damaged packages? Here are three research-based answers to that question:
  • If the nature of the product and production methods allow, call the item “organic.” The effectiveness of this tactic is likely to be greater when accompanied by information about how ensuring flawless appearance uses precious resources and can require harmful chemicals. Results from a research project at Denmark’s Aarhus University suggest a way to increase retail sales of abnormally shaped food items: Sensitize shoppers to the importance of fully using what’s available. 
  • Add a physical barrier between the damaged package and the item itself. For example, the item could be wrapped in a plastic bag and reinserted into the flawed package. 
  • Place the items in calmer areas of the store. In the Los Angeles / British Columbia / Ontario studies, consumers who had lots to think about and remember were more affected by viewing damaged packaging. A related tactic is to space out the items on the shelves or racks. 

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

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Sensitize to Waste for Abnormal Produce
Catch the Power of Contagion
Aim to Donate, Not Destroy, Merchandise

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Serve Singular Satisfaction

People eat more from a bigger package than from a smaller package. Researchers at Cornell University and University of Central Florida found that study participants given an 8.4 oz. tub of fresh popcorn ate about 45% more than those given a 4.2 oz. tub. A larger single serving subconsciously suggests to the brain we must eat more to show expected progress.
     However, people eat less from what’s in a big package than from what’s in a set of small packages containing the same quantity as what’s in the big package. Researchers at Technical University of Lisbon and at Tilburg University in the Netherlands found that people hesitant about eating a food product were more likely to overcome their hesitations when presented with small packages than when presented the equivalent amount in a large package. In addition, the people who got started on the small packages ended up eating more than did those who dug into the large package. The participants had said they believed small packages would help them limit their consumption, but the opposite proved to be true.
     The explanation is that, when faced with an additional small package, the dieter says, “Oh, it would be only a little bit more,” and then after finishing the next one, says the same thing again. The explanation has less to do with the degree to which eating from a small versus large package sates hunger. In fact, studies at Hofstra University and Baruch College indicate that consuming the entire contents of a single serving package gives more of a feeling of fulfillment than consuming the equivalent amount, and therefore not the entire contents, from a multi-serving package. And it applies to medicine as well as food. Patients feel a two-pill dose has been more effective when taking them from a two-pill container than from a twelve-pill container.
     The physical act of closing out the consumption makes a difference. London Business School researchers offered shoppers 24 chocolates and asked each to select one chocolate to eat. Those who replaced the lid after choosing reported higher enjoyment and more confidence they’d made a good choice.
     Health care professionals wanting their clients to feel satisfied when using less medicine should have patients transfer the pills from large bottles into single-dose pill organizers. Grocery retailers wanting to help customers curb gorging on junk food should sell larger packages instead of multi-packs of equivalent amounts.

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

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Influence Consumption with Shape & Size
Label as Small to Increase Trial
Close Out the Purchase

Monday, May 9, 2016

Show Effectiveness with Stewardship Claims

The same selling appeal which raises probabilities of purchase in one context can actually lower them in another context. A set of researchers at Maastricht University, Loughborough University, and City University London, while exploring ways to build the commitment of consumers to protecting the environment, stumbled upon one such example of contextual reversal: Study participants were encouraged to think of their affinity with future generations. For those also persuaded that environmental protection would directly benefit the future generations, stronger affinity appeals increased a commitment to engaging in that protection. But for the study participants who were not persuaded of the direct benefits to future generations, stronger affinity appeals made commitment to protection less likely.
     We’re genetically programmed to nurture our offspring. Whatever you’re selling at retail to parents, you can realize more successes by bringing to the shopper’s mind the children. Psychological research at Cornell University and then later at San Francisco State University concluded that possessions used just by the purchaser bring less happiness than experiences shared with others. We want to provide for our biological descendants, and this generalizes to also wanting to be of assistance to future generations who are not our biological descendants. Adults may sacrifice their own comfort to provide adequately for household pets.
     So why did the researchers’ appeal end up decreasing the selling potential if evidence of effectiveness was lacking? Why wasn’t the result to just cancel out the extra punch? Part of the explanation is “reactance.” Reactance kicks in when shoppers sense that their freedom of choice is threatened. As you escalate the sales pressure, the shopper digs in, becoming progressively more determined not to do what you’re trying to convince them to do. They start debating each idea you present and step away from you.
     The other part of the explanation for the contextual reversal in this case is narcissism. Your shoppers are more self-centered than in the past and walk into a sales situation—whether the sales objective is a product, service, attitude, or behavior—accompanied by a compelling sense of entitlement. The less effective you are in mobilizing nurturing by showing effectiveness of an action, the greater will be a reactant move toward narcissism. With the pitch for environmental sensitivity, this meant a turning away from concerns about helping out future generations.
     In any retail persuasion based on the appeal of stewardship, be sure to give compelling evidence of the effectiveness.

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

Click below for more: 
Evolve the Most Basic Sales Pitches of All
Leapfrog Generations to Sell Experiences
Unbox the Resistant Customer
Read Kit Yarrow’s New Book

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Look Down For, But Never On, Customers

There are circumstances in which telling a customer they’re better than others will motivate the customer to buy more. This might seem to run counter to the traditional wisdom that people strive to purchase and display items they associate with groups they look up to. Researchers at University of Texas-Austin and Switzerland’s University of Bern found that when a consumer’s self-esteem is extraordinarily high, the consumer starts aiming for the status quo.
     Still, that same team also found consumers are more likely to form emotional attachments to items at retail if the consumers see the items as fitting their image of their current self rather than of the person they aspire to be. Shoppers hesitate stretching aspirations out too far.
     Conclusions from more recent studies at San Diego State University, Georgetown University, and Medical University of South Carolina point out that there really is not a contradiction at all. Each of us has many identities and therefore multiple comparison points for esteem. Your shopper might feel superior as a parent, but inferior as a driver, for instance. With the right blend of self-perceptions in the shopper, the retail salesperson can cultivate purchase motivation.
     An example of the twists this can take is seen in studies at New York University and Israel Institute of Technology. College students were more interested in learning about a T-shirt tattooed with a sophisticated design when the T-shirt was worn by a grocery store packer than when by another college student. In another study, students developed a higher likelihood of buying a wireless charger when they saw it used by a security guard than by a college student.
     The irony here is that the attraction to the product depends on aspirational drives. Who was using the wireless charger made a difference only if the college student study participant considered technological innovativeness to be important. The motivation for slumming in product choices appears to have been shame.
     Harvard University researchers asked students to judge the professional status of a teacher. Some were told the teacher was clean-shaven and wore business suits; the others were told the teacher had a beard and wore T-shirts. The ratty dresser got higher status ratings than the natty dresser if a professor at a prestigious university, not an instructor at a community college. The logic seems to be that you must earn truly high credentials to get away with rejecting conventions.

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

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Convince Shoppers to Reach for the Stars
Flatter Shoppers with Care and Caring
Plumb for Consumers’ Desire to Slum
Raise Your Community’s Aspirations
Confirm the Status Lift from Nonconformity

Monday, May 2, 2016

Discount Your Use of Useless Discounting

Unless your promotional discount on items ends up increasing sales revenues, that discount has been wasted. Researchers at University of Bochum find one way in which this occurs is when the shopper may be responsive to a discount, but not to the amount of the discount. In the 537 transactions the researchers studied, the discount offered by an automobile salesman resulting in a successful sale averaged $616 less when the salesperson made it a point to sense the shopper’s sensitivity to the amount of the discount.
     How does this apply if a promotional discount is announced on shelf tags to all shoppers, not negotiated with each individual shopper? Part of the answer to that question is that giving shoppers an unexpected cents-off coupon for the purchase of one product in a store increases overall spending at that store. Customers who are grateful to you will buy more from you on that trip and on future trips, and nothing brings out gratitude in a customer more than finding a surprisingly low price. But, again, the amount of the discount is often less important than the fact that there is a discount.
     Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium analyzed cross-category effects in closer detail. They found that with product categories purchased occasionally or purchased more for convenience than necessity, a promotional discount is especially likely to lead to not only purchase of that item, but also purchase of items in other categories. With items the shopper came into the store specifically intending to buy—what the researchers called “destination categories”—the effect was not as pronounced.
     Therefore, you’ll get more from your promotional discounts by offering them on categories purchased occasionally or mostly for convenience. Still, the discounts on regular necessities do count. In a set of studies at University of Arizona and Arizona State University, participants were asked to assume they had to buy an essential item at a store because they were completely out at home, and they also could buy other items while at the store. For one experimental condition, the essential item was priced 80% lower than usual.
     This surprise discount resulted in about an 8% increase in the quantities purchased of other items available at the store. Realize this could much more than make up for the lower profit on the single item sold at the 80% discount.

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

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Regulate Negotiating with Regular Customers
Have Unannounced Discounts on Common Purchases
Effect Spillover Buys via Surprise Specials
Discount Partner Items Simultaneously or Not?
Sharpen Your Price Image