Monday, July 31, 2017

Airbrush Away Shame in Your Shoppers

Salesmanship might be seen as showing shoppers what they can become, then convincing them to purchase from you what will help them become what they want and avoid becoming what they don’t want. The challenge is setting the right distance between the shopper’s self-image and self-aspiration. If the fear of negative consequences is too intense or if shoppers don’t see a way out, they get defensive and start thinking about why they really don’t need the item you’re wanting to sell them. If the gap between their current situation and the better situation you’re promising them is too great, they’ll get highly discouraged and highly ashamed, neither emotional state conducive to purchasing.
     Researchers at University of Texas-Austin, Louisiana State University, and University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign explored this issue by taking a closer look at a well-researched question: Among shoppers who are not thin, how does seeing thin models affect the interest in purchasing the modeled fashions? Past consumer behavior studies have found that women are motivated to purchase items modeled by people who are somewhat thinner than they themselves are, but not dramatically thinner. This is true whether those modeling the fashions are in ads or are salespeople and shoppers in the store.
     The Texas/Louisiana/Illinois research team wanted to see if parallel findings hold for male shoppers and also how to ease the discouragement and shame caused by large discrepancies between a model’s and shopper’s statures. They found that although men’s physical appearance self-image took a hit when seeing thin models, the men did not feel nearly as much shame as did the women when it came to fashion. Physical self-image is more central to self-esteem in women.
     As to how to ease in women the shame which impedes buying, one possibility is to stop using ad models who appear to be very thin. But since thin models attract interest, the researchers also suggest another tactic supported by research: When encountering shoppers who seem ashamed about themselves after seeing the ads, remind them of the frequent use of computerized photo manipulation techniques like airbrushing to eliminate people’s girth in photos. The models aren’t really that thin.
     The more general point is to persuade shoppers—both male and female—they are capable of achieving what you’re proposing. Psychologically airbrush away any shame. To do this, you’ll need to select the right items for each shopper. Indeed, that’s another way to view salesmanship.

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

Click below for more: 
Craft Fear Appeals
Raise Your Community’s Aspirations
Fashion Profits by Thinking Bigger
Appeal to Vanity
Reveal the Folly of Shopper/Product Rivalries
Match the Product to the Customer's Skill Level
Commit to Ads that Guide the Committed
Get A Head, Except for Ladies’ Clothing

Monday, July 24, 2017

Personalize for the Market Maven Personality

Researchers at University of Southern Mississippi and Florida State University set out to discover more about the personality of a type of consumer called the market maven. The importance to retailers like you of the researchers’ quest is that market mavens are powerful influence agents. Rather than considering themselves expert advisors on only certain retail products and services, market mavens counsel others about the whole shopping experience and go on to recommend specific stores.
     The personality profile these researchers describe, based on their review of prior studies and their own questioning of consumers, includes blends of divergent characteristics. Market mavens enjoy suggesting novel stores, brands, and item types to others, but they don’t want to propose ideas which conflict with the existing norms of their audiences. Although they enjoy spending more time and money at retail than the average shopper does, market mavens score high on assessments of frugality, since they continually strive to get maximum value for what they do spend. They grant more importance to the characteristics of products and services than to the characteristics of retail stores, but their recommendations of what to buy are almost always accompanied by recommendations of where to buy it.
     To maximize your appeal to the personality of the market maven, the researchers suggest emphasizing good value on pioneering items which have already shown some acceptance by a number of shoppers. An extra lift could come with you describing this to the market maven in a way which suggests they’re privy to exclusive information.
     Other research has documented relationships between face-to-face mavenism and web mavenism. Therefore, as you identify market mavens with favorable impressions of your store, encourage them to post their views on social media. Offer them materials and internet links they can take with them as conversation starters to share with family and friends. This is especially useful for newly introduced products and items for which the purchaser incurs monetary or self-concept risk.
     Generating suggestions for improvements is one trait distinguishing market mavens from customers who only ask questions, give praise, and give criticism. Offer these influence agents special gifts, including the gift of implementing at least some of these suggestions for improvements. A major reason for the value to you of market mavens is the stable self-confidence with which they make recommendations to all the people they know. That’s more likely when they recognize you’ve listened to them.

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

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Cross Channels with Market Mavens
Build Buzz with Market Mavens
Court Market Mavens for Social Media
Offer Exclusive Price Discounts Cautiously

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dwarf Giant Smiles So You Won’t Look Dopey

Expressions of positive emotions spread from staff to shoppers and among staff. University of Queensland researchers observed positive and negative feelings displayed by shoppers in retail environments moment-to-moment. Not only did a general emotional tone spread, but if one shopper changed from negative to positive or in the opposite direction, other shoppers tracked along with their own behavioral evidence of emotions. All this, in turn, was found to affect intentions to purchase items at the store and intentions to return to the store for future purchases.
     Thus, moving a shopper from being disgruntled to being pleased increases your profitability from that customer and also from other shoppers in the store at the time who observe the interactions. So smile often when facing visitors to your store. And smile often when building teamwork with your employees.
     Yes, there are retailing situations in which a full-toothed, full minute smile is all wrong: If a customer is distraught, and a smile would make you look uncaring. If you’re delivering corrective discipline to a staff member, and a smile would make what you’re saying seem unimportant. Or when a real big, real prolonged smile threatens to make you look simply dopey.
     Researchers at Adelphi University, University of Central Florida, Iowa State University, and University of Kansas found after a series of studies that the bigger the salesperson’s smile, the greater the consumer’s impressions of both warmth and incompetence. The probability of that second impression, certainly a negative one for retail selling potential, is greater in situations with shoppers who consider the purchase to carry risks and with shoppers who are prevention-focused rather than promotion-focused. Promotion-focused people play to win, while prevention-focused people play not to lose. At the extreme, the promotion-focused think creatively, welcome risks, and plow through issues quickly. At the other end of the dimension, the prevention-focused anticipate problems and so work meticulously to dig into issues rather than plow through them.
     The upshot: When dealing with a shopper who is nervous about a purchase decision, dwarf those big smiles so you won’t come across as unqualified to give credible advice. The researchers verified that these impressions directly influence a consumer’s willingness to spend money and time with you.
     Yet always have in mind the depth of the smile’s power. Evolutionary psychologists say we are all genetically programmed to interpret a genuine smile as a desire to build a friendly relationship.

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

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Infect Your Store with Enthusiasm
Reduce Unwanted Risks for Your Shoppers
Promote Supervision Which Prevents Problems

Monday, July 10, 2017

Relate Biases to Gift Registrants

Gift registries are a profitable tool for retailers. People celebrating special events like a graduation, wedding, or birth of a child identify items from your store they’d like to have and then the celebrant notifies friends and family the retailer maintains the list. Those wanting to give a present know where to go, people are directed to your store, and at least in theory, the celebrants are getting the items they most want.
     Alas, researchers at Emory University and University of Texas-Austin find that the theory is flawed. In reality, the people feeling closest to the intended gift recipient are quite likely to pick items different from what the celebrants have placed on the list. The reason is that close friends and family members want to personalize the gift by selecting something to signal the nature of the relationship. 
     Gift givers are generally unaware of this bias. In the study, participants said they’d, “choose something the recipient would like,” over, “choose something that acknowledges or expresses the relationship you have with the recipient.” But although 25% of the gift selections ended up being from outside the gift registry among distant friends, the corresponding choice share among close friends was 64%. That is, only about one-third of the gift selections were from what the intended recipient said they specifically wanted. Further inquiry revealed that the divergence from the registry was because of a desire to signal the relationship.
     Where relationship signaling is especially crucial, we’d expect even more divergence. What friends and family will think about the gift is highly important to adolescents, according to researchers at Temple University, Jerusalem College of Technology, and University of Haifa. Teens usually want the gift to strengthen the relationship by showing ways in which they are similar to the gift recipient. Still, in other cases, they select a gift to carry a neutral message about the relationship.
     To improve the match between what the gift registrant lists they want and what the people buying the gift end up selecting, coach gift registrants to include items which carry relational messages. Grandma might feel best selecting a wedding present which verifies her role as the family historian. The fiancĂ©e’s older sister scans the list to find a kitchen appliance in order to subliminally say she’ll always have the younger sister’s back. Aunt Ellen picks an expensive silver set so she’ll be seen as financially supportive.

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

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Discover What the Gift-Giver Expects in Giving
Present Identities Via Wedding Gift Registries
Limit Design Support for Personalized Gifts

Monday, July 3, 2017

Up Yours with “Up To” Discounts

Up your sales revenues from promotional discounts by using “Up to xx% off” formats. Consumers are, by and large, an optimistic lot. If you advertise “Up to 40% off regular prices,” they’ll think the item they’re seeking will be one of those tagged for close to the full discount. You’ll attract almost as many shoppers as you would have if you’d offered the 40% cut on all the merchandise.
     Want to attract even more shoppers? Instead of “Up to 40% off,” use “Up to 39% off.” That’s right. Researchers at Indian Institute of Management find that such “just-below tensile pricing claims” (JBTPC) impress shoppers more than do the corresponding rounded offers. Plus, you could make a little more money for your store by setting the maximum discount at 39% instead of 40%.
     The reason this works has to do with how our brains handle rounded versus precise numbers. Precise numbers lead to us assuming more restricted ranges, so the consumer thinks the variation from the 39% will be smaller than the variation from the 40%. The impression is of a discount closer to the stated number, which translates to a larger discount and increased attractiveness. This is different than with item prices themselves, where 99¢ seems noticeably less than $1.00 to the consumer’s brain.
     The researchers found boundaries to the advantage of JBTPC if offering large discounts or sequential discounts. You won’t attract more shopper interest with “Up to 69% off” than with “Up to 70% off,” nor with “Up to 39% off + additional 10%” than with “Up to 40% off + additional 10%.”
     Other studies indicate more conditions on the use of tensile pricing in general. If you’ve a limited number of products for which you’re offering promotional discounts, tensile pricing will draw more customers than would ads showing the specific discounts on the limited items, according to research at Yale University, Ohio University, and University of Toronto. But if a comprehensive range of products are on sale, you’re better off stating the actual discounts for a sampling of those products than in using tensile pricing claims.
     Researchers at University of North Texas and Texas Women’s University found that tensile pricing claims are substantially less useful when marketing services than when marketing products. This is probably because with services—compared to the case with products—consumers are more likely to believe that you get what you pay for.

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

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Advertise Tensile Pricing Selectively
Expect Exceptions to 99-Ending Pricing
Round Up Benefits for the Shopper