Monday, April 30, 2018

Suck In Rather Than Blow Off Trust

Unless you know your shopper well, take care not to reach out too strongly or suddenly. A gentle smile works wonders, but a giant smile, even if genuine, can look creepy to the person who’s never met you before. Touching the customer projects warmth. However, the nature of that touch should be appropriate to the culture. An offer of a handshake or a fist bump usually ends up better than hugs. Maybe thrust your arms out toward shoppers with palms rotated upward as a welcome.
     Or maybe not. A research team at University of Chicago and University of Wisconsin says that people often lose trust when unfamiliar others move toward them decisively.
     One way to overcome the effect is to approach gently and to enlarge the interpersonal distance if you sense discomfort. In a related finding, researchers at Cornell University and University of Toronto suggest that when a consumer is feeling overwhelmed by a difficult decision, and you want to make the sale, you encourage the shopper to back off briefly and then come back.
     The researchers presented consumers with two equally attractive products and invited the consumers to either choose one of the products right then or defer the decision. Next, some of the consumers were asked to lean in toward the computer screen where the products were displayed. The remaining group of consumers was asked to lean away from the computer screen.
     Those leaning in toward the screen reported the choice to be more difficult and were more likely to ask to come back later.
     Another way to overcome shoppers’ discomfort is to beckon them to approach you, leaving them in control. Tools for accomplishing this include scooping your hand toward yourself and asking, “If you come over here, may show you what I’d pick?”
     The effect of that last word—a weirder effect, I think you’ll agree—is what University of Cologne researchers call “inward” pronunciation. The researchers found that words such as “pick” which begin with a sound in the front of the mouth and finish with a sound in the back of the mouth earn a bit higher trust than do outward pronunciations like “open” which begin in the back and finish in the front.
     The meaning of the words you use to earn trust count for a great deal. It turns out that the pronunciation of certain words also beckons shoppers toward you.

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

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Get Down with Seniors’ Medical Records

On one side of the desk sat the physician, on the other side sat the patient, and on the desk between them was the computer displaying results of a full panel of blood tests, urine tests, wellness exam, and other measures of the patient’s medical situation. After scrolling the screen back and forth, the physician pursed her lips and gently shook her head. “Well, you’re doing okay overall,” she said, “but I would like to get that age down a bit.”
     A statistic about the patient that health care professionals are powerless to influence is the chronological age. However, those professionals might stimulate the senior citizen patient to maintain and improve health by having them carefully look through their medical records. A number of studies conclude that people who learn about their lab results become more engaged in preventive care and are more satisfied with the care they receive. A chief result is reductions in health delivery costs.
     Researchers at Åbo Akademi University in Finland and Örebro University in Sweden explored what leads seniors to be interested in doing this. They found that motivations significantly more likely to occur in older adults than in younger adults were:
  • “To get an overview of my health condition” 
  • “To check some details” 
  • “To follow up what was said during my last visit.” 
  • “To involve my family members in my care.” 
     These, then, can be used by the health care professionals as benefits statements to persuade the patient to seek information from their medical records.
     An especially good time for the senior to review the records is prior to a scheduled appointment with healthcare staff. This is because the older adults, compared with younger adults, say that if they don’t understand something in the record, they’ll ask during the next scheduled visit. The seniors were also more likely than the younger adults to say that reading the medical record improves communication with the healthcare professionals and helps them better understand their condition.
     The older adults were less likely than younger adults to search the internet for medical information. Related to this, they were more likely to say they’d expect an online medical record review to be difficult. Still, results from studies such as those at University of Cincinnati indicate that senior citizens are sufficiently computer-savvy to get medical information online. So in the future, preferences for online access of medical records might change.

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

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Mask Those Gorgeous Mannequins

In-store shoppers for appearance-oriented products compare themselves to how others in the store look. If the comparison comes across with the shopper thinking they end up on the short end, the chance of you making a sale drops.
     It makes no sense to ban beautiful shoppers from your store. But there’s something else, since others who act as comparison models are not only the human beings. When a female mannequin is looking unattainably gorgeous, women who have doubts about their attractiveness feel threatened, with the result that they criticize the product the mannequin displays. The researchers at University of Alberta and University of British Columbia who saw this happen also observed a similar effect in men. In this case, one explanation is that the fellows felt disturbed that they’d not be able to hold the attention of a real woman who was so attractive. Another explanation is that an attractive female mannequin stimulates in men the general idea of how society casts judgments based on physical appearance.
     The researchers suggest making the mannequin look less attractive by omitting the hair or masking the face. A Stockholm School of Economics study proposes a more drastic measure—decapitation. Female shoppers gave higher ratings to fashion items on models whose heads weren’t shown. So in your ads and on your mannequins, you could leave off what’s above the neck.
     The damper on item evaluations from gorgeous dummies was found only with the display of appearance-oriented products, such as fashion and accessories. When the item in the research was an umbrella, the use of a mannequin had no effect.
     Do recognize how standards of beauty differ among social groups and change over time. Where suntans currently imply an attractive life of leisure, there were times when a darker skin tone implied the need to work in the fields. While mannequins and models incorporating size 6 torsos from the neck down are considered especially attractive now, this wasn’t true during the Great Depression. With food being scarce, the typical retail store female mannequin intended to get mouths watering wore a size 18 dress.
     Also, selling aspirational products is good marketing. Shoppers who consider themselves to be highly attractive won’t be threatened by good looking mannequins, and shoppers who consider themselves to be somewhat attractive will be drawn toward mannequins that they consider looking a bit better than they themselves do before purchasing the product.

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

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Brighten Up Seniors with Smart Home Thinking

In what ways can personal technologies improve the quality of life for elderly adults? What features should designers prioritize to incorporate in consumer technologies for seniors? How should marketers best overcome resistances among older adults to embracing these features?
     Researchers at King Mongkut’s University of Technology in Thailand considered these questions as they reviewed dozens of studies about smart home design for the elderly. They identified major benefits smart home technologies could deliver:
  • Health monitoring. Devices can issue reminders to take medicines, do exercises, brush teeth, and carry out other activities on schedule. Sensors could monitor water usage, movement through the residence, and time spent in the kitchen, for instance, and automatically send out warnings over the internet to family or health care personnel when daily routines are disrupted. Motion sensors could be designed to detect a senior falling down. Knowing their welfare is being monitored can reduce seniors’ anxieties, enhancing emotional health. 
  • Environmental monitoring. The smoke and carbon monoxide detectors which help protect the safety of residents regardless of age can alert public safety personnel to dangers that seniors may not be able to handle when living alone. Electronic door openers and sensors which keep the senior informed what’s happening throughout the home might ease muscle fatigue. 
  • Companionship & social interaction. Although robots which move about, use human-like voices, and respond to spoken directions are much less common in the homes of seniors than in the research studies exploring use with seniors, there’s evidence of robots’ value providing a form of companionship. Smart homes wired for video communications throughout have been found to reduce loneliness when age takes a toll on mobility. Systems can monitor the number of daily visitors. 
  • Stimulation and recreation. Rigging home lighting systems to change color and brightness at different times of day are sufficient to ease senior boredom by breaking up the routine. Interactive games can be wired into the whole house design rather than being restricted just to the desktop computer and mobile devices. 
     These capabilities do carry high potential for improving quality of life, but the studies found major concerns among the elderly center around perceived threats to privacy, the financial budget, and self-confidence. This third one has to do with the senior citizen fearing they won’t know how to control the technology. Ease of use, including ease of turning off the technology, are integral to adoption of smart home thinking.

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

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Illustrate Your Brand Extensions

When adding a product to your offerings, it helps if the product carries a familiar brand name associated with high quality. But if the characteristics of the new product conflict with those of other items carrying that brand name, you could end up confounding shoppers instead of selling to them. Researchers at New York University, Northwestern University, and Yale University present the hypothetical example of Nike introducing a deodorant in a CVS drug store. “A shoe brand has no business making deodorant!” might be the consumer reaction, the researchers found.
     But those researchers then went on to identify a way to increase acceptance of the brand extension: Show a picture. This nudges the shopper toward thinking about the quality of the brand instead of the fit of the product. When shown a picture of a deodorant stick while making a choice, study participants selected the Nike stick over the CVS stick about 80% of the time, while a different set of participants not shown the picture selected the Nike stick over the CVS stick at only the chance level of 50%.
     It’s useful to understand how generalized this effect is. The picture shown to the consumers was of a generic deodorant stick, not a Nike or a CVS stick. And the effect worked across a broad swatch of product categories where a well-known brand with a quality reputation went up against a higher-fit item. Suitcases branded by JanSport or by Apple. Barbecue sauce branded by Mrs. Field’s or by McDonald’s. Camping gear branded by Speedo or by Kmart.
     The reason for the effect is that a picture moves consumers to think more concretely rather than abstractly, so they focus on the characteristics of the particular alternatives at hand, including the characteristic of brand quality. Product fit is a more abstract concept.
     For this to work, the new product must be associated with a high quality brand. And the outcome is a tendency, not a certainty. About 20% of the consumers still selected the CVS choice over the Nike choice after being shown the picture of the deodorant stick.
     Also remember that there are times you’d prefer the customer to select the house brand over the national brand and that plenty of high quality store brands exist. House brands offer your shoppers a price advantage and also usually offer you higher profit margins than do the corresponding national label brands.

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

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Forget Stereotypes of Seniors’ Memory Deficits

As a group, senior citizens remember facts less well than do younger adults. Conscientious retailers will take care to check that important information is understood well at the time the elderly consumer is making a purchase decision.
     The causes of the poor memory include deterioration in hearing and vision, less effective functioning of the brain at encoding and filtering information, reduced storage capacity in working memory, and slower retrieval. Although there are broad variations in the extent and nature of the memory impairments, all of them tend to grow as age progresses.
     However, researchers at Springfield College and University of Missouri say there’s another cause of poor memory performance which is quite reversible: The senior citizen’s belief that senior citizens have poor memory. Society’s prevailing view of the elderly as highly forgetful itself leads to their poorer performance in recall. The stereotype becomes the reality.
     An irony is that the effect shows up more as false memories than as the experience of forgetting. More often than saying they’ve forgotten a fact or where they learned a fact, seniors exposed to the stereotypes are mistaken in what they say they remember or where they learned it. This misplaced sense of certainty makes the effect even more treacherous.
     To reverse the effect when working with seniors:
  • At the same time that you are alert to the possibility of memory impairment in your customer or client, place more emphasis on the objective of the task than on it having to do with memory. 
  • Acknowledge correct memories by the consumer and give praise without being patronizing. 
  • When your shopper experiences a senior moment, where the experience is of a temporary mental lapse rather than a false memory, be patient, avoid embarrassment, and then move on. 
     Stereotypes about aging go beyond assumptions about memory, and they can influence the behavior of shoppers who are far from being elderly. Consider the classic study by John A. Bargh, Mark Chen, and Lara Burrows at New York University in which undergraduates exposed to terms like “old,” “retired,” and “wrinkle” as part of an assigned task walked more slowly when leaving the lab than did students not exposed to the words.
     The truth is that your senior citizen customers and clients do walk, think, and decide more slowly, on average, than their younger counterparts. The problem arises when a retailer stretches that to assume the senior is inept.

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

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Chart Your Numbers’ Compelling Backstory

In your sales presentations, a chart with information of potential high importance to the consumer will come across as no more than trivial if that chart lacks a backstory. All good stories create tension and then propose a way to resolve it. Determine the tale you want your data to tell and then design a graphic to complete the job.
  • What do you want the chart’s audience to do about the issue? Not only know about the issue, but also do about the issue. Contribute to a cause? Select a particular item among alternatives? Vote for the candidate or issue you favor? 
  • What do the data say about the particular issue? Most data sets can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and many data sets are rich with possible directions for action. Because your audiences will probably spend only a limited time looking at the chart, focus the visual on what counts most when it comes to your issue. 
  • What will the viewers want to believe and feel about the issue? The evidence counts for a lot, but the truth is that people are more persuaded by what they want to conclude. In designing the chart, also keep in mind that beliefs are more influenced by shapes than hues, while feelings are more influenced by hues than shapes. Bold, solid, angular, and sharp shapes appeal to those who favor independent action. Airy delicate, round, and smooth shapes appeal to those who favor collaboration. Warm colors—reds, oranges, and yellows—stimulate consumers to make decisions more quickly. Cool colors—greens, blues, violets, and whites—increase consumers’ satisfaction with their current consumer decisions. 
     Data visualization expert Bill Shander, CEO of Beehive Media, describes various questions effectively answered by persuasive charts he’s encountered in his career. Here’s my version of his list from which you can select one or more to answer your own audiences’ questions:
  • Comparison. How do a set of alternatives stand against each other? 
  • Trends & deviation. How is an important consideration changing over time? 
  • Proportions. How influential a role is your recommendation playing in the audience’s whole picture? 
  • Relationships. What are the connections among causes and effects? 
  • Distribution & geography. Where and how broadly is the issue showing itself? 
     Mr. Shander also verified that the most effective storytelling is interactive. Encourage interactivity with rhetorical questions on the chart, such as, “Which cleaning wipe looks best for you?”

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

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Consider Contagious Magic Low Among Seniors

Contagious magic refers to the belief that two inanimate objects which are close exert a strong influence on each other.
  • Researchers at Yale University and Bar-Ilan University found that people place a higher value on items if they had been used by a well-regarded celebrity like George Clooney than if by someone with an evil reputation like Saddam Hussein. The difference faded if people were told the item had been thoroughly cleaned. 
  • Researchers at Arizona State University and New Zealand’s University of Aukland saw how a guitar purchaser said having a respected rock star sign the guitar caused the guitar to produce better music. This was especially true when the guitar was a replica of the instrument used by the rock star. 
     Because contagious magic is common among consumers and often operates below the level of conscious awareness, wise retailers take it into account when influencing shoppers to make objectively valid purchase decisions. However, a set of studies at Duke University and Davidson College indicates you need not be so concerned about contagious magic when selling to seniors. The assessment questionnaire included items like “You’re better off avoiding fruit and vegetables that were touched by a bad person” and “The chances of a recipe going wrong increase when an unlucky cook helps to assemble the ingredients.” Those over 70 years old were less likely to agree with the items than were young adults.
     Two factors help explain these results. One, which seems obvious when you think about it, is that seniors have had more life experiences. Black cats crossed their paths many times without dire consequences and countless tasty meals have been assembled with the help of people largely unsuccessful in life and including produce having been touched by God knows who. The other factor which appeared in the studies is less obvious: Contagious magic depends on a consumer aiming for control in uncertain purchasing circumstances, and the psychology of senior citizens is to be less concerned with negative consequences than are younger adults.
     There are circumstances in which older adults fail to objectively evaluate probabilities. They’re more likely than younger adults to believe in the basketball hot hand—that a player is more likely to get the ball through the hoop after making several successful shots than after missing one. The hot hand belief has been debunked by research. But so has the assumption of prevalent senior superstitions.

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

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Offer New Customers 15%-35% Discounts

One problem with attracting new customers by offering price discounts is that it establishes expectations of discounted prices on subsequent transactions. The bargain hunters might sign on with you for a first sale, but will sign off as soon as another good discount comes along elsewhere. Or if you do continue giving substantial discounts, your business profitability suffers.
     Researchers at Aalto University and Hanken School of Economics in Finland find this is much less likely to occur if the initial discount is between 15% and 35% than if it is outside this range. The reason for this has to do with the degree of attention the shopper devotes to analyzing the reason the retailer is offering the discount. When a discount’s very small, such as 5%, shoppers consider it too trivial to even analyze. When the discount is large, such as 70%, the shopper’s attention is directed toward determining if the item is of sufficient quality rather than whether the retailer will continue to offer value. Consequently, the extreme discounts fail to build customer retention as strongly as do the midlevel discounts. Digging into their research findings, the researchers recommend that, for purposes of customer retention and lifetime revenues, it is better to offer no introductory discount than to have one above 40%.
     Studies at Georgia State University and University of Leeds indicate that these types of effects are strongest with shoppers who have PTPK—pricing tactics persuasion knowledge. Such shoppers tend to carefully consider how retailers use pricing tactics to influence the consumer to buy, and so are more likely to become repeat customers when the midlevel introductory discount sets off that type of thinking.
     There’s also another problem with introductory discounts, however: Customers who become regulars start wondering why they’re paying more than someone who hasn’t shown long-term loyalty to you. They might become tempted to stop giving you their business so they can then take advantage of the new user rate.
     One solution is to offer rewards to regular customers, such as with frequent shopper programs. Research findings from London Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggest another tactic: Tell new customers that the reason they’re getting a discount is to compensate for the hassle of changing habits and integrating the purchase into their lives. This justifies the discount in a way which makes the experienced user not begrudge the benefit given to succeeding generations.

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

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