Monday, June 12, 2017

Undertake Underdog Appeals with Morals

For years, I’ve advised small to midsize retailers to develop niches in order to hold their own against Big Box stores. By specializing, you carry within a niche both an item selection and a level of expertise more comprehensive than large multi-category retailers usually do. However, the advantage of a niche has been fading as ecommerce blossoms in the marketplace. Online vendors frequently offer almost limitless selections because they can obtain the items from suppliers after a customer places the order. It’s still a valuable advantage to maintain high expertise about what you sell. But you might want to substitute another feature for the claim of comprehensive selection.
     How about saying you’re the underdog? It’s easier for you to claim that mantle than for a large retailer to do it. In our culture, underdog narratives draw empathy for those who in the face of resource shortages are determined to prevail. When researchers at Harvard University, Simmons College, and Boston College offered a choice of chocolate bar brands to study participants, the brand positioned as the underdog was selected about 70% of the time over the other brands.
     However, be careful when featuring your store as the underdog. People root for the underdog, yet associate with winners. Show that you’ve the makings for ultimate success. You’ll also want others to see you as a good sport. You could advertise with a negative frame (“The other store is bad, and our store is good”) or a positive frame (“The other store is good, and our store is even better”). Researchers at New York University and Vanderbilt University recommend accentuating the positive. Negatively framed comparatives draw more counterarguments from shoppers.
     Researchers at University of Maryland and Georgetown University say underdog positioning helps the most if your target markets see you as sincere, fair, principled, honest, trustworthy, and less than supremely competent.
     Yes, retailers who are viewed as highly competent don’t get as much added appeal from portraying themselves as underdogs. It’s when there are concerns about expertise that the combination of moral traits with underdog appeal makes a big difference.
     The researchers explain this by saying moral businesses are the kinds we like to reward. It’s not a matter of personal warmth, though. The underdog narrative didn’t help much with a retailer seen as sociable, playful, happy, and funny. After all, the shopper is usually seeking a buyer-seller relationship, not a friendship.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

Click below for more: 
Make a Splash with Comprehensive Selection
Boast About Underdog Determination
Overachieve as the Underdog

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