Monday, February 19, 2018

Crowd Humanized Brands Cautiously

When shoppers feel crowded, their behavior changes. According to studies at Columbia University and University of British Columbia, when shoppers from Western cultures are in tight spaces, they want greater variety among products. If they have fewer choices, they'll become less comfortable. Researchers at University of Kansas, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and University of Toronto found that one major effect is a retreat to safety. For instance, shoppers who encountered crowds of unfamiliar bodies preferred to shop for their headache relievers at a pharmacy than at a convenience store. In casinos, crowding moved typical gamblers toward less risky wagers.
     More recently, researchers at Lehigh University and Drexel University pointed out that the impact of crowding on a specific consumer depends on the prior experiences of the consumer shopping in crowds, the expectations of the consumer about the degree of crowding they’ll encounter, and the personality structure of the consumer. Those points preceded the researchers considering a question: Do shoppers respond differently to humanized brands when shopping in circumstances the shoppers consider to be crowded?
     Humanized brands—more commonly called anthropomorphized brands by marketing scientists—are those that have human-like characteristics. This might come from how the item looks, in a picture or name of a person on the packaging, or in the way an advertisement or the salesperson describes the item. The answer to the question turned out to be: Yes, shoppers who feel crowded will view a humanized brand much less favorably if the presentation of the brand indicates a desire to interact with the shopper.
     In one of the studies, a fictitious brand of coffee maker was presented to one group of consumers with the buttons arranged to resemble a human face and the tag line, “Together, you and I will explore a variety of coffee drinks.” The participants’ purchase intentions for the coffee maker were significantly less than was true with participants presented the coffee maker in less crowded circumstances or with the buttons not resembling a face and the less intrusive “I am Aroma. I will perfectly complement any occasion!” tag line.
     However, in a parallel set of studies in which the participants were made to feel uncrowded, the results were reversed: The “Together, you and I….” resulted in higher purchase intentions than did the “I am Aroma.”
     When using in-store or other public area signage which is promoting your anthropomorphized brands, carefully consider the likely degree of perceived crowding among the intended audiences.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Satisfy Seniors Who Satisfice

Older adults will more often take shortcuts in decision making of various types than will younger adults.
  • Almost all adult shoppers make routine purchases using minimum deliberation. But with more demanding objectives, shoppers of average age 68 years searched less intently than did shoppers of average age 36. The task for the study participants at University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale was to identify the breakfast cereals which had less than 200 milligrams of sodium and at least two grams of fiber in a serving. 
  • The setting for a Bowling Green University study was a simulated yard sale in which participants were asked to sell a set of items at the highest possible prices. The results indicated that younger adults are more likely than older adults to take into account the full pattern of offers made by potential buyers. The researchers attribute the older adults’ single-deal strategy to them having inferiorities in working memory. 
  • A set of University of Kentucky studies explored age differences in methods of political decision making. The finding was that the voters of average age 24 years were especially likely to select a candidate by considering the stand each in the field had taken on a set of issues. By contrast, those of average age 72 were especially likely to select the first candidate they came across whose stand on the issues pleased them. 
     The use of shortcuts in these ways is called “satisficing.” As was seen in the breakfast cereal study, all consumers generally will satisfice when the decisions are routine. The differences between younger and older adults appear when there’s complexity involved. Because older consumers are more likely to satisfice, meet their preferences by keeping the decision making procedure no more complex than is necessary. You might curate the alternatives before presentation or recommend compromise choices.
     Although almost all elderly consumers are more likely to satisfice than are their younger counterparts, some are especially likely. Genetics and early life experiences influence how receptive a particular senior is to favor satisficing. There are situational factors, too. Researchers at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics-Liulin say that a priming question prior to the actual decision task makes a difference. “Which of the three pets is the smartest—dog, cat, or fish?” would nudge an older consumer toward maximizing. “Which animal would you be willing to live with—dog, cat, or fish?” nudges toward satisficing.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Taste the Benefits of Product Sampling

Inviting shoppers to try a small free sample of an appealing food or beverage in your store increases sales not only for that item, but also for appealing alternatives in the same product category. Moreover, the positive profitability aftereffects of a sampling promotion linger better than do those from a price promotion on the same item. Repeated sampling events for an item have a multiplicative effect, not just an additive effect, on sales.
     These are the overall findings from carefully designed research at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Brigham Young University, and Singapore Management University. Sampling allows people to touch, smell, and taste the item, thereby making the shopping experience more stimulating. Consumer engagement breaks through the distractions that block sales. Products realizing the greatest sales boosts from sampling will be those with the most engaging sensory characteristics. The researchers also found that sampling produces superior results when the number of alternatives in the product category is limited rather than expansive.
     In the studies, some stores had significantly better results from sampling than did others. I suggest you experiment with what works for you and where in your store you should place the sampling station. My experience is that it’s best located in a well-lit area where a number of people can gather. We want shoppers to be attracted by seeing others sampling and then not feel crowded when doing the sampling. We also want the shoppers to hang around long enough to get their questions answered by friendly staff who are distributing the samples.
     Manning the sampling station heads off the cheating that alienates shoppers. Too often, people ravage a tray of free samples. Researchers at University of British Columbia and University of Alberta saw that other shoppers who witness this happening are tempted to punish the offender. The mental turmoil inside the heads of these shoppers preoccupies their thinking, and preoccupied consumers often buy less.
     Make it easy to buy the product by having the merchandise for purchase adjacent to the sampling station. When the item is unfamiliar to typical shoppers, another advantage of doing this is that it places the item in a second location in the store, increasing the familiarity that leads to sales. Especially with the unfamiliar product lines, combine sampling with attention-getting store displays, couponing, temporary price reductions, or rebates. Extra excitement comes when the sampling is part of a special event at your store.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Manage Risks for Seniors Who Gamble

As long as risks to security aren’t excessive, gambling can be a positive pastime for older adults. In a review of twenty years of studies worldwide on the topic, researchers at Bangkok University concluded that gambling often provides seniors with valuable social interaction and mental stimulation. Casino gambling is the most popular day-trip social activity for people at least age 65 living in residential and assisted care facilities, with a major motivation being the opportunity to meet and talk with others. Lotteries, the most common form of gambling among older adults, provide excitement and a break from the routine, said the studies’ participants.
     It might seem that those of advanced age would be more susceptible to problem gambling. Aging brings deficits in learning from recent experiences and in impulse control. However, the research review indicated that the rate of problem gambling is not higher among older adults than in other age groups. One explanation is that those with severe deficits select themselves out or are otherwise less likely to place themselves in gambling situations.
     Still, when problem gambling does exist, the consequences could be more severe, since older adults have fewer years and, in general, less ongoing monetary income to recover from losses. Therefore, marketers who promote gambling by seniors also have a responsibility to facilitate those seniors managing the risks.
     One validated technique is to regularly remind the seniors of the dangers. This is best done with stories rather than statistics alone, since stories are more persuasive. Study results from High Point University and Bradley University suggest that people who lightly engage in problem gambling will probably respond best to stories which, without apparent exaggeration, portray the negative consequences of continuing. For heavy abusers—those who might be considered gambling addicts—go positive instead, pointing out the benefits of cessation for people like them.
     Labeling gambling for what it truly is also helps. People who have never before wagered online are less likely to overdo if it’s called “gambling” rather than “gaming.”
     In an exploratory study, interviewers at Portugal’s University of Porto heard from older adults that reminders of dangers and accurate labeling of gambling as an activity in which you’re bound to lose money in the long run both work well in curbing problem gambling. Another technique suggested in the interviews was to encourage the senior, before entering a casino, set limits on what money and time will be spent.

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Keep Smiles for Your Face, Not Your Emoticons

When the servers in the fine dining establishment drew a smiley face on the check at the end of the meal, as instructed to do by the University of North Carolina and Western Carolina University researchers, the tips were lower than those received by servers instructed not to add the hand drawn equivalent of an emoticon. The researchers interpreted this finding to indicate that the smiley face implied a level of informal familiarity which violated role expectations. Restaurant servers in fine dining establishments are expected to play a role clearly subservient to that of those being served.
     Subsequent studies at University of Amsterdam, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and University of Haifa indicate the explanation for the finding probably is not so straightforward: An anthropomorphized smiling face detracts from competence impressions. The tips might have been lower because the restaurant servers came across as less competent at the time when the diner was deciding how much to leave. These subsequent studies explored the first-impression effects of a smiley face emoticon in computer-mediated communications among strangers—the sort of use e-retailers might make. The finding: When a degree of sender-receiver psychological distance is expected by the receiver of a message, use of the smiley face emoticon, and probably most other emoticons as well, starts off the relationship wrong since it portrays immaturity.
     Putting this together with research findings from Stanford University, University of Minnesota, and University of Pennsylvania, I recommend taking particular caution in using emoticons if you’re a nonprofit. Consumers already begin with perceptions of such organizations as warmer than for-profits but as less competent. Since you’ve already earned the impression of warmth, you don’t need any boost from a smiley face. Further, the computer-mediated communications study found that the smiley face didn’t add much impression of warmth anyway.
     Also please keep in mind that a smile on your face generally gives a message to consumers vastly different than a smile on an emoticon. When the computer mediated communications researchers used a photo of a smiling face in the computer-mediated communications, recipients did have an impression of warmth. A genuine smile, whether in a photo or in person, projects hospitality and sincerity. Keep the smile gentle though. If you aim to make the arc on your lips as extreme as that on the best-known smiley face emoticons, the dopey look will almost surely erase any scintilla of competence.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Long for Longitudinal Looks at Seniors

Approaching his ninth decade, Fred Jones described life as “like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The span is too long just to have a bridge, so they had to have a bridge and an underpass. So part of it you’re up here, and part of it you’re down here, and finally you get to the Eastern Shore. Good days, bad days. But overall it’s good days.”
     Mr. Jones shared this with New York Times writer John Leland who included it in his article “Want to Be Happy? Think Like an Old Person,” one in a series as Mr. Leland tracks and writes about the same group of elderly adults over the years. That’s a longitudinal look. It contrasts with cross-sectional research about seniors, in which findings on older adults are compared with findings on different people who are younger adults.
     Many more studies about seniors are cross-sectional than longitudinal. Keeping track of the same group of people over the years is difficult. With the elderly, a number will be lost to death. Mr. Jones passed away before Mr. Leland completed the second article in his series.
     There are also age challenges for the researcher. Regarding the “Up Series,” in which Michael Apted has produced a movie every seven years about the development of the same group of British children, Mr. Apted is quoted as saying, “I hope to do ‘84 Up’ when I’ll be 99.” Often, longitudinal research is conducted by teams who can pass the baton along. Such a study, verifying how emotional well-being improves with old age, has involved academics from Stanford University, UCSF, UCLA, Pennsylvania State University, Northwestern University, and University of Virginia.
     Longitudinal research does provide a richness of insights beyond what’s available from cross-sectional research. We get a better view of the study participants’ perspectives as they traverse the bridge of life Mr. Jones had described. That multi-university study saw how improvement in emotional experience occurs even when physical health and verbal fluency are taken into account. This conclusion required individual-to-individual comparisons.
     For retailers, proper cross-sectional research almost always provides sufficient tips. We’re looking for what works differently with our senior customers than with our younger customers. However, when our questions concern how our loyal customers are quite likely to change their preferences as they age or we want to fully understand why the younger and older differ, we’ll find ourselves longing for the longitudinal.

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

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Poach Those Jilted by Delayed Delivery

Here’s a chance to steal customers from the competition in a way that chokes off the competition stealing the customers back from you, according to researchers at University of Kentucky, Pennsylvania State University, and Stanford University: When a highly attractive product upgrade is being introduced, watch for signs that other retailers are running low on stock and then advertise the fact that you’ve either that specific upgrade or a high quality substitute.
     Why does this work even if the other retailer could also offer a high quality substitute? Because the irritation at the out-of-stock (OOS) spreads to impressions of the retailer. The shopper feels jilted and is ready to turn away from their current supply source. It’s emotional more than rational.
     The feelings around an OOS of an attractive upgrade are stronger than with other types of OOS because when an attractive upgrade becomes available, consumers strive to justify to themselves spending the money to purchase it. This justification usually takes the form of disparaging the current possession, saying it’s not really so good after all. Researchers at Columbia University, University of Michigan, and Harvard University say that this might lead to consumers getting careless with the product, figuring that if it breaks, they’ve a firm excuse for buying the new model.
     This set of researchers also found that even when the objective benefits of the updated model over the current model are trivial, many consumers will long for the new version. This means that when the consumer learns they can’t get the upgrade, they don’t want to go back to what had been a perfectly acceptable status quo.
     For you to poach, you’ll need to pounce, catching those irritated consumers on the rebound. It’s best not to wait until you hear from your regular customers that the competition is OOS. That could be too late. Instead, track news about launch delays, manufacturing problems, overload of the delivery channels, and other breakdowns in availability of the item.
     On the other side of the equation, you’ll want to keep customers rather than have them defect when you go OOS. Research-based techniques for this:
  • If the item is OOS because you didn’t place a timely order, the supplier had production problems, or there were shipping delays, explain this as a failure to anticipate the high demand rather than as a logistical problem. 
  • Demonstrate expertise about your store’s products, building the trust you will then depend on when suggesting a substitute. 
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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Capture a Photo Finish for Senior Donations

Rates of charitable giving of money increase with age up until about 75 years, at which point the rate does decrease. Studies at Texas Tech University and Erasmus University conclude that this decrease is not due directly to deterioration in health, due somewhat to decreases in cognitive abilities, and most of all due to a drop in attendance at religious services, a drop that could itself be attributed to deterioration in health and decreases in cognitive abilities. It is at religious services where many solicitations for donations of money are made.
     Less carefully tracked by age cohort are contributions of used goods for resale by charities. As seniors downsize their belongings, there are opportunities for nonprofits to profit. Taking firm hold in year 2017 was the notion of “Swedish death cleaning,” a process described as cleaning your closets as if there’s no tomorrow: When a senior accepts the inevitability of death in the future, they also might confront thoughts about family needing to dispose of all the clutter left behind.
     Researchers at Pennsylvania State University, Ohio State University, and University of Texas-Austin find that a barrier for people in giving away items to charities is the sentimental value attached to the items. The resistance comes from concerns, often subconscious, that disposal will lead to forgetting important events in life associated with the items.
     The researchers then went on to identify a technique which successfully dissolved the resistances when the issue was sentimental value rather than the remaining everyday usefulness of the items or the hassle of arranging for the donation. That technique consisted of encouraging potential donors to take photos of the items before giving the items away. Perhaps surprisingly, this technique had no effect on willingness to sell the items rather than donate them.
     Based on their findings, the researchers propose that nonprofits soliciting contributions of personal belongings:
  • When holding donation drives, use text like, “Take a photo of your items before dropping them off so you can keep the memories while losing the clutter.”
  • At drop-off centers, offer to take photos of items in good repair which are likely to have sentimental value, such as stuffed animals, clothing, and athletic equipment.
     Research findings from Boston University and University of Pittsburgh suggest a technique to supplement these: Have staff from the nonprofit look at the photos and acknowledge the sentimental value each item has for the donor.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Convert Controversy to Retail Sales

A set of studies at Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Pennsylvania plotted the relationship between controversy about a topic and the interest of people in talking about the topic. The finding was that as the amount of controversy increases, people do want to talk about the topic more. Thus, even a negative review of your business can draw people to tune into your social media channels and come into your restaurant, clinic, office, or store to hear your retort.
     Those researchers said the upward slant lasts only so long. When the degree of controversy reaches a certain tipping point, interest in discussion is outweighed by discomfort at even thinking about the matter.
     More recently, researchers at Stanford University discovered a circumstance in which the more polarization in opinion, the better for sales. This is when a consumer feels unsure of their psychological identity.
     The researchers identified a group of study participants who expressed agreement with questionnaire items like “My beliefs about myself often conflict with one another” and “Sometimes I feel that I’m not really the person that I appear to be.” The researchers found that, compared to consumers who did not agree with such items, these individuals with low self-concept clarity preferred merchandise and experiences which had received polarized ratings. The distribution with high polarization had a cluster of ratings at a one star, another cluster at five stars, and just a few ratings in between. A low polarization distribution had a large cluster toward the middle with few ratings at the extremes.
     Researchers at New Mexico State University and University of Nevada-Reno had found that people are more likely to purchase an item when presented just the average rating rather than the distribution of ratings. The researchers concluded this is because the single overall rating is easier for a shopper to mentally process, what is easier to process leaves us with a more positive feeling, and positive feelings stimulate buying behavior.
     But some shoppers prefer complexity to simplicity, and people unsure of their psychological identity are among those shoppers. These might be your potential customers who are going through jarring changes in their lives—such as a college graduation or a divorce—or feel they are surrounded by others who hold views widely divergent from their own—such as a political liberal after an election of a conservative slate of candidates in their community.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Keep Senior Shoppers From Worst Impulses

Researchers at University of Stuttgart in reviewing forty-five years of research about how older people make purchase decisions see an excess of impulse. It has to do with the trouble the aged brain often has in filtering out irrelevant signals and in keeping focus. Therefore, the impulse buying is more likely to occur with merchandise, packages, and shelves featuring bright colors, animation, or abundance. Seeing other shoppers getting excited about a deep promotional discount can set off the senior purchasing merchandise or services they don’t need at all.
     Compared to younger shoppers, the seniors spend less time and attention on gathering detailed information before purchase. This doesn’t mean they’re more likely to regret their purchases later. In fact, they are less likely to complain and more likely to accentuate the positives after making a bad decision. Even when dissatisfied, they tend to return to the same set of merchants and shop for the same brands because familiarity has appeal and because memory is often flawed. The researchers found that habits are so strong that when there is evidence of harm from a product, senior shoppers usually have to be assertively steered away from repeat purchases.
     To responsibly keep senior shoppers from their worst impulses:
  • Encourage seniors to shop with companions. The socialization slows down the decision making and allows the others to warn the shoppers. Even when the companions are themselves all elderly, the group members might compensate for each other’s impairments. 
  • Help seniors stay away from crowds. While a small group of companions is helpful, a large congregation is stressful. The anxiety triggers impulsive decisions. One reason seniors prefer shopping early in the day is to avoid crowds and avoid feeling crowded. If it doesn’t work for you to have seniors come at morning hours, set up attractions such as senior discount days for times less popular with younger shoppers. 
  • Allow for reflection. Without challenging or belittling senior shoppers, ask them to tell you their reasons for selecting an item you suspect is an impulse purchase. And as long as your business success allows for it, maintain liberal return policies. 
     To be sure, with many seniors, there are forces that make impulse purchasing unlikely. Older people have less need to buy because of social conformity, for example. When you’re 95 years old, let’s say, you’ve little reason to worry about peer pressure. There aren’t that many peers around.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Wash Away Your Greenwash Products

Consumers expect to pay a premium for products with the sensitivity to environmental impacts which qualifies the products to be called green. But Drexel University researchers saw consumers in their studies get mighty irritated when the consumers came to realize products were actually greenwashed instead of green. Remove such merchandise from your shelves and racks.
     Greenwashed items are those touting green characteristics while having what turn out to be only trivial modifications in the direction of environmental sensitivity. Examples the researchers found include a shampoo promoted as “crafted with bio-renew” that had a natural sugar added, but no chemicals removed; diapers advertised as “pure and natural” which used organic cotton in the outer shell, but the conventional diaper materials in the surfaces contacting the baby; and a printer calling itself eco-friendly, when the only difference from usual printers was use of a thermal printing method.
     Offering products that deserve to be called green is good. A University of Indiana analysis of 75 product introductions indicated green claims improve the attractiveness of offerings and of the stores carrying them. This doesn’t uniformly equate to increased purchases of those products, though. Increased profitability often comes from purchases of items not carrying the organic designation. The presence of socially conscious products makes it more likely the customer will purchase products that do not embody social consciousness. It’s as if having chosen the store is enough to satisfy the values.
     Studies at City University of New York, Loyola College, and Duke University suggest that even when this sort of thing doesn’t occur within the same shopping trip, it can occur over subsequent shopping trips. That is, if someone purchases a socially conscious item on this trip, they become more likely to purchase next time an item which shows little attention to social consciousness.
     Consumers who favor organic products think of themselves as being environmentally conscientious, and this leads to another indirect explanation for the increased profitability from organic items. The explanation applies to categories like cleaning products. Studies at Central Michigan University and National Dong Hwa University found that consumers believe green products are less effective than others. Therefore, they use more of them for the equivalent task, resulting in larger buys.
     Greenwashed products fail on both sides. Those willing to pay more to use the products won’t buy the greenwashed. Those not willing to pay more lose trust in your business ethics.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Stay Dead-On in Dealing Death for Seniors

Upon its release, the Pixar animated movie “Coco” was praised as a realistic depiction of feelings about death in the traditional Mexican culture. There, death is accepted as familiar, routine, even celebrated as in the Día de los Muertos holiday. By contrast, death is typically feared in other developed countries’ cultures. An exception is among seniors, who generally carry a more accepting perspective on the looming reality.
     The characteristics of what Brooklyn College researchers call a “good death” increase the acceptance and therefore indicate benefits points for those offering services concerned with end-of-life:
  • Attention to individual preferences. Most seniors prefer to die at home but there are those who would rather be in a nursing facility where pain relief is readily available. Most seniors want to be surrounded by family and friends at the time of passing, but there are those who say they’d prefer the peacefulness of having only a few others, or perhaps solitude. 
  • Tying it together. When contemplating their mortality, seniors are motivated to complete unfinished business in their lives and talk with others about the meaning their lives have had. As death seems closer, seniors’ interest in spiritual counseling often grows. 
  • Consideration for those being left. In general, women show more concern than men about the consequences of their death on loved ones and on caregivers, including the medical personnel. Men and women alike want to have in place arrangements for finances and the disposition of possessions. 
     In consumers of all ages, thoughts about death influence purchasing and donating behavior, so these effects may be seen to a greater or lesser extent in senior citizen shoppers. Researchers at Chinese University of Hong Kong and Shanghai Jiao Tong University found that stimulating awareness of mortality increases receptiveness to bandwagon charity appeals. Bandwagon appeals ask for contributions on the basis that others already donated. The researchers contrasted this with need appeals, in which the request is based on the deprivations which would be eased by a contribution.
     A group of college students were asked to “briefly describe the emotions that thoughts of your own death arouse in you.” Another group were instead asked to describe emotions and thoughts related to dental pain. Of those study participants in the first group, 67% were influenced by a bandwagon appeal, while only 23% were by a need appeal. In the dental pain group, the respective percentages were 20% and 50%.

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

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Monday, January 8, 2018

Anticipate Aesthetics Avoidance

Retail consultant Paco Underhill told a story about an unexpected problem occurring at an Einstein Bros. Bagels store in Utah: The bags of bagel chips were being shelved with such precision that customers hesitated touching the bags, let alone buying a bag. To disturb the configuration would disrespect the aesthetics, the shoppers seemed to be thinking. The solution? Instructing store staff to regularly check that the bags were sufficiently disarrayed.
     Researchers at Arizona State University and Duke University attribute such hesitations to people not wanting to make a beautiful item or arrangement look less beautiful by using it or selecting from it. The researchers documented these effects in studies comparing a cupcake with smooth frosting against a cupcake with frosting in the shape of a rose blossom, an undecorated napkin against a napkin with a floral design, and even plain white toilet paper versus white toilet paper featuring festive motifs.
     Generally, consumers were relatively less interested in using the aesthetically pleasing items and expressed greater discomfort about the consumption they did complete. There were exceptions to this general finding. Shoppers who have less appreciation for aesthetics or don’t associate superb design with extraordinary effort will be less concerned about the disruptions from purchase and use.
     For circumstances where your shoppers do seem hesitant to buy high aesthetic items, consumables or not, consider using one or more of these research-based tactics:
  • Sand castles. The beautifully designed sand castle is expected to draw awe and then to deteriorate. Give shoppers permission to deface the item after honoring the aesthetics. Point out how the item would deteriorate anyway if not used. 
  • Limited editions. Present the item as being more like one of a restricted set of prints than like a unique original painting. Have more than one copy so evidence of the artistry is not destroyed forever. This reduces concerns that consuming the item dishonors effort exerted during item design and physical production. 
  • Souvenirs. Have versions of the item that are not so intricately decorated which can be used to stimulate memories of the unpurchased artistic rendering. If the consumable is not likely to deteriorate with time, invite purchase of both the beautifully designed version and a version containing the same ingredients, but with a functional format. 
     Aesthetics in store design, package design, and item design all draw positive attention from shoppers. But sidestep your shoppers saying, “It’s too beautiful to use.”

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

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Blend Culture into Senior Selling

The culture with which a senior citizen identifies will affect that person’s consumption habits. Researchers at Chinese University of Hong Kong conducted a number of studies and reviewed studies done by others to show where the differential influences exist. When it comes to comparing North American culture with Asian culture identifications, a prime point is balance. Asian cultures place more importance on balance than do American-European cultures, and the effects on consumer preferences seem to become greater as the person ages.
     Consider the positivity bias—the tendency of seniors to attend more to upsides and put a happy edge on sadness and fear. This bias is seen in Asian as well as North American seniors. However, Asian seniors are more likely than the Americans to additionally contemplate the negatives.
     Two forces drive this. First is interdependency, which Asian cultures emphasize. Older Chinese consumers were shown a video clip with positive images on one side of the screen and negative images on the other side. Those participants who had expressed the typical cultural perspectives of mutual dependence on and responsibility for others looked at both the positive and negative images. But the participants who were lower in interdependence looked much less at the negative images than did younger consumers exposed to the same task. This is similar to what’s seen with American seniors.
     The other force operating in Asian cultures is the yin-yang—a view of the world in terms of balancing cycles. Researchers from New York University-Stern and Princeton University asked study participants to allocate $1,000 across a selection of stocks with varying past performance. The European-American participants were more likely than the Chinese participants to put the money into stocks which had previously shown uniform growth. The Chinese participants were more likely to invest in ambiguously-performing stocks, anticipating that a balance would lead to an uptick in the stock value for any prior underperformance. The participants in that study weren’t seniors, and there’s evidence the differences would become even somewhat greater in the aged.
     Elderly consumers whose backgrounds include identification with collectivist cultures are more likely to embrace social responsibility than those who identify with individualist cultures. Collectivist cultures include many Asian and Pacific Island areas, Greece, and Portugal. Individualistic cultures include the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands. Consumers identifying with individualistic cultures also welcome innovations more than do consumers who identify with collectivist cultures.

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

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Dimension Your Approach to Customer Culture

Monday, January 1, 2018

Remodel Your Store to Make a Difference

Researchers at Monash University note that prior studies have shown improvements in customer spending when a store is remodeled, but that in many stores, those improvements lose strength rather quickly.
     The researchers hypothesized that the gains from a store remodel will be more robust when the differences between the old and new store design are greater. To test the hypothesis, the researchers selected two stores operated by the same retailer. Both stores underwent remodeling so that the two ended up looking essentially the same. But one of those stores had damaged flooring, worn out furniture, inadequate lighting, and old color schemes before the remodel. The other store had started out being much more up-to-date.
     Consistent with the researchers’ predictions, sales post-remodel climbed 12% in the store that was outdated pre-remodel, but climbed only 1% in the store in which the pre- and post-remodel differences were smaller. However, this finding could have been due to shoppers not wanting to frequent an ugly store pre-remodel. To address that possibility, the researchers selected two more stores in the chain which were not remodeled, one of those stores up-to-date and the other not.
     A comparison of results showed that a remodel produced positive sales gains, but the gains were more long-lasting when the store had begun in poor condition. Customer survey data showed that the robust sales gains were accompanied by improvements in store satisfaction and loyalty. Indeed, detailed analysis of the sales data explained the increased profits as due in part to more frequent store visits as well as more purchases per visit in the stores with larger pre- to post-remodel differences.      Still, it was not just that the same old shoppers were spending more. A remodel attracts new customers, too. In another study at Monash University, it was found that for both new and existing customers, a remodeling increased sales revenues, but over the subsequent year, the frequency of repeat store visits and spends was greater for the new than for the existing customers in the remodeled stores. Maybe these new customers had walked through the store before without purchasing or had the store described to them by others. Aside from that, they’d have little way of appreciating the difference between the pre- and post-remodel design.
     The upshot is that a remodel can boost revenues beyond the short-term, especially in a store or area of a store that is currently outdated.

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