Thursday, August 31, 2017

Show Impatience to Noncompliant Patients

Sometimes consumer guilt improves customer satisfaction. When a health care provider induces guilt in a patient for noncompliance with instructions, the patient builds respect for and satisfaction with the professional’s technical expertise and communication skills, according to studies at University of Northern British Columbia. This was true for nagging about medication regimen adherence, maintaining lifestyle changes, and keeping appointments. Patients expect negative regard from doctors about noncompliance.
     But it doesn’t work so well if what’s induced is shame rather than guilt. What’s the distinction?
  • With guilt, the consumers acknowledge they’ve done something wrong or failed to do something right 
  • With shame, the added element is that the consumers believe that others hold them responsible 
     Adults in individually oriented cultures, like the U.S., UK, and Australia are especially likely to bristle at efforts to arouse shame. “Aim to shame me about not following your instructions and I’ll start searching elsewhere for what I need. I don’t like spending my time and money with people who pin me with responsibility when I’ve failed.”
     The best approach, according to research at University of California-Santa Barbara, is to start by showing positive concern for the noncompliant patient and then follow this with an analysis of the reasons for the compliance shortfalls. The health professional’s attitude when showing positive concern should be enthusiasm. The attitude during the analysis and subsequent corrective action plan should be disappointment and impatience, but never blame.
     This works so well because it fits patient expectations. Health care professionals are expected to be both caregivers and problem solvers. However, expectations can also get in the way. The UCSB study plus another study at University of North Carolina, New York University, and Providence Everett Medical Center found that due to gender-specific expectations, when either the provider or the patient is female, the communications about noncompliance are less decisive and more ambiguous than when both the provider and patient are male. Expectations are for women to be the gentler gender. Health could suffer as a result. Check for understanding, especially in male-female noncompliance discussions.
     Health care professionals also should assess whether the patient expectations are for a promotion-focused or prevention-focused dialogue. The promotion-focused light up with a “What are some things you can do to make sure everything goes right?” approach. The prevention-focused take comfort in, “What are some of the things you can do to avoid anything that could go wrong?”

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

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Dare Not Dare Consumers to Excess

For a fear appeal to move consumers into action, the consumers must believe what’s being warned against has at least a fair possibility of happening to them and that the consequences would be noticeably unpleasant. Then beyond the susceptibility and the severity, consumers must be convinced that what is being suggested to eliminate the fear will be effective and that they are themselves capable of carrying out what you’re suggesting.
     With all those hurdles to jump, each of them long recognized by consumer behavior researchers and insightful retailers, it’s no surprise fear appeals often don’t work as planned. A set of studies at University of Adelaide and Monash University provides evidence of another spoiler in the mix: Some people treat warnings of dire consequences as a dare. The more strongly you portray the susceptibility or severity, the greater the probability the target of your persuasion will see it as a challenge.
     This feeling of challenge then can move the recipients in one of two directions. For some, they’ll dare themselves to prove you right and so do what you recommend. Others will dare themselves to prove you wrong and so continue doing what you’ve warned them not to do. The researchers find this second response is more likely to occur with males than with females. It’s especially likely to occur among young males, who through genetic predisposition and cultural expectations are attracted to risks and show an optimism bias.
     The Adelaide/Monash researchers discuss this happening with problem gambling, tobacco smoking, and speeding on roads. They advise counselors to avoid daring male clients to change. But the advice to avoid overselling applies broadly to areas where receptivity to persuasion can be enhanced through fear. Raise enough fear of a real danger to win the customer’s attention and motivate action, but only to the degree that you’ve a guaranteed way to substantially reduce the risk.
     Researchers at Auburn University find that if the fear becomes too intense or the audience doesn’t see a way out, they get defensive and start thinking about why they don’t need the item you’re wanting to sell them. Or if they do end up making the purchase, chances are they’ll associate negative feelings with your store, making it less likely they’ll come back again. This might be truer of males than females on average. Still, remember there are broad differences within consumers of each gender.

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

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Redesign Your Store for Loyalty

Retailers redesign the configuration and decorative themes of their stores for a number of reasons, ranging from changes in the nature of the merchandise to a desire to stay fresh. Researchers at Dublin Institute of Technology, Massey University in New Zealand, and University of Surrey warn that, regardless of the reasons, such store redesigns can disrupt customer loyalty. Mission Shoppers—those who want to come in, make the purchase, and leave—were taken aback by the new layout. And all types of shoppers became more price-sensitive in the redesigned store. They felt that the prices were relatively higher, even when there were actually no changes in the prices.
     Still, the upsides of store redesign outweigh the risks. In the research, many longer-term customers liked the novelty and the opportunity to explore. As long as the difference between old and new is not too great, what is surprising and unfamiliar improves recall, which, in turn, can trigger repeat business. Other studies, at Monash University, found that announcements of a grand reopening drew in new customers, with higher spends per visit and, for a time, more frequent visits than was true for the longer-term customers.
     Maximize the upsides by respecting visual aesthetics. Research results from Brazil’s University of Paraná indicate that if shoppers judge the exterior and interior design and décor of your store to be visually beautiful, the shoppers are more likely to become loyal customers. What different target populations of consumers judge to be visually pleasing may seem to vary widely. And those judgments do. Research does find three fundamentals:
  • Symmetry with a few surprises. The underlying design should be balanced, with matching elements on the left and right and on the front and rear. But there also should be a few surprising asymmetries. 
  • Unifying themes. Customers find visual aesthetic pleasure in store designs and décor which repeat themes. If a visual design theme is also reflected in sounds or aromas in the store, this augments the aesthetics. 
  • Familiarity. The arrangement of shelves and aisles should balance novelty with familiarity. The familiarity may come about because of a principle of design common in a culture. 
     Then, too, lessen the risks of store redesign: Forewarn customers of changes. Keep the store items most popular with Mission Shoppers in locations similar to where they were in the old configuration. And at the time of the grand reopening, run promotional discount sales.

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

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Parade Sparkle for the Jealous

We know the value of selling to the emotions. People feel better about purchases made on the basis of feelings than on those made strictly on an intellectual accounting of advantages and disadvantages. But knowing which emotion to sell to can get tricky. Researchers at Northwestern University, Nanyang Technological University, and Chinese University of Hong Kong showed that shoppers who feel jealous prefer items that attract attention. In the study, such people selected a brightly colored coat over one with a neutral hue, an unusual-looking pair of sunglasses over a less conspicuous design, and a handbag with a large logo over one with the same logo in a smaller size.
     This preference operates even if the customer believes that the attention grabber will strike friends and family as ostentatious. But the preference doesn’t operate with personal use items friends and family are unlikely to observe, such as the packaging on a deodorant stick. Jealous people want to be noticed.
     However, the researchers want us to understand that they consider jealousy to be different from envy, and what they suggest for serving the jealous customer won’t work as well with the envious customer. As the researchers conceptualize it, envy arises when a consumer is disturbed that someone else is considered superior to them or has something they want but don’t have. Jealousy results from the loss of special attention the consumer already had: A child shopping with family might be jealous of a sib who is receiving more notice. A young adult might reflect a jealous state by talking with a shopping companion about a partner who was wooed away. Inattention from a preoccupied salesperson can stimulate jealousy.
     If you detect evidence of jealousy, guide the shopper toward items with extra sparkle.
     While jealousy and envy are negative emotions, the value of subtle distinctions is seen as well with positive emotions such as pride. Researchers at University of Toronto, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and China’s Sun Yat-sen University say you can do a better job of satisfying the proud shopper by determining if the consumer thinks they were successful mostly because of special abilities or hard work. If it’s special abilities, suggest a distinctive product or experience. If hard work, the distinctiveness of the item is less important. For the first, the barkeep should suggest a limited-edition hand-crafted microbrew, for the second, the signature best-selling cocktail.

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

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Pain a Stimulating Picture

Consumers endure pain if the upside payoff is sufficient. People go to the dentist knowing discomfort is often inevitable. They put up with sore muscles after working out at the gym to improve physical fitness or after skydiving for the thrill of an exotic experience. Customers can transform emotional pain into enjoyment when finding bonus pleasure in waiting for a concert following the purchase of the tickets—the process of savoring.
     But why would people pay for the opportunity to wallow in a ditch of cold mud, run among four-foot-high flames, and crawl through electric wires generating 10,000 volts? The appeal of these and about two dozen similar challenges offered by Tough Mudder intrigued Rebecca Scott, a graduate student at University of New South Wales who was herself a Tough Mudder participant.
     After systematically analyzing results from observing and interviewing Tough Mudder customers, Ms. Scott and her research partners say the pleasure from the pain is explained by a major factor beyond the challenge of endurance and the fun of doing it with teammates. The additional factor is how the pain sharpens sensitivity to one’s own body for people who are missing this.
     The researchers note that a major target market for Tough Mudder is knowledge workers, whose focus on intellectual activities stifles body awareness. Tough Mudder participants talked to the researchers about the mental stimulation when their arms and legs hurt too much to function properly and how the wounds they suffered prolonged the stimulation beyond the day of the event.
     The desire for bodily stimulation, even if painful, underpins the psychiatric disorder masochism. Consumers can even get off reading about the pleasure from pain, as they did with the E. L. James book Fifty Shades of Grey, which has sold more than 125 million copies. The psychiatric disorder, the erotic passages in the book, and the findings from the Tough Mudder analysis all have another common element—the ritualization of the discomfort. Recipients want to feel in control.
     Best not to assume your store customers are masochists who’d thrill at being greeted at the entrance with a zing from an electric cattle prod, let’s say. Instead, I suggest you assume that because so many people in current society are knowledge workers who spend much of their lives out of touch with their bodies, you use the Tough Mudder findings as a reminder of the sales appeal of physical experiences.

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

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Tune Up by Varying the Store Music

Changing your store or restaurant during the business day to fit the preferences of the shoppers can build sales revenues. Retail consultant Paco Underhill talked about a bookstore he worked with that used rotating shelves to showcase retirement advice for early morning mall walkers, child care books for the young mothers shopping before noon, and business books later in the day.
     However, such daily configuration alterations could quickly prove impractical for most retailers. If you want to make changes, it would be easier to vary the music playing in the background, let’s say. Researchers at University of Hamburg, Macquarie University, and Seoul National University, after reviewing dozens of published inquiries into the effects of music in retail settings, provide suggestions:
  • Experiment with different playlists used at different times. Assiduously monitor the effects on purchase amounts and longer-term revisits. Getting it right usually takes time, but it’s worthwhile. In one of the studies, in-store music used properly increased average per customer purchase amounts by 68% compared to the no-music situation. Such results are due in large part to appealing music convincing shoppers to stay in the store longer. Further, a number of studies find that when the music is not appealing, customers leave and hesitate returning to shop again. 
  • In general, it’s best to keep the music volume low and use tunes with clear rhythm and moderate tempos. Switch to somewhat higher volumes and slightly faster tempos at times that there are lots of other ambient noises in your retail establishment, such as talking or equipment sounds. In these circumstances, the masking effect of music increases shoppers’ ability to consider making purchases. 
  • Model what you play on the ways in which other retailers like you are using music, then improve on it. Customers are more likely to accept whatever music you play when they’ve encountered similar play lists at stores or restaurants they consider to be of the same type as yours. To establish your distinctive advantages, though, don’t be almost identical. 
     Other research adds these tips:
  • At periods shoppers will be selecting items without much thought, play music including lyrics. At periods shoppers are likely to be looking at new brands or novel products, use music that is barely noticeable. 
  • Allow for the sounds of silence. To soothe the savage shopper, have intervals free of the music. A little peace and quiet also puts harried salespeople back in tune. 
For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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