Monday, September 24, 2018

Pin Responsibility in Unhealthy Food Choice

To help your customers maintain health, accentuate their responsibility for any unhealthy choices. Researchers at University of Southern California, University of Michigan, and Simon Fraser University explored how this works with self-service versus being served unhealthy foods. Consumers in a waiting area were offered a free snack. At certain times, the snack was mixed dried fruits while at other times, and therefore for different consumers, the snack was Reese’s Pieces candies. For each group, sometimes the consumer was required to scoop the snack into a sampling cup from a large container, while for the other consumers, half-filled sampling cups were offered.
     With those offered Reese’s Pieces, about 31% of the observed people facing the prefilled cups took the candy. When required to serve themselves, absolutely none of the people accepted the offer. With those offered the healthier fruit snack, 16% took a prefilled cup, while 6% were willing to scoop for themselves.
     An interpretation of the results is that when people are required to put forth a physical effort to obtain an item, they’re less likely to do it, but this effect is much stronger for unhealthy items. Other studies by the researchers found this was because the physical effort, even if minimal, gave a sense of personal responsibility. You don’t feel as responsible for making the unhealthy choice when all you have to do is snatch it up.
     We don’t want to make choices excessively demanding for shoppers. Still, research at University of Chicago found that consumers who characterized themselves as “smart” rather than “not smart” evaluated products more positively when the products had been pushed back on the shelves rather than being in easy reach. With products where healthfulness isn’t an issue, a small challenge often boosts repeat sales.
     Not every challenge will end up decreasing overall consumption of unhealthy foods, however. Researchers at Technical University of Lisbon and at Tilburg University in the Netherlands found that people who hesitated eating a food product generally overcome their hesitations when presented with small packages more than when presented the equivalent amount in one large package. But, in addition, the people who went through the trouble of opening up a bunch of the small packages ended up eating more than did those who dug into the large package. The participants had said they thought using small packages would help them limit their consumption. Yet the opposite proved to be true.

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

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Challenge Smart Shoppers
Label as Small to Increase Trial
Horse Around with Healthy Selecting

Monday, September 17, 2018

Argue with Me, Convinced

A sale is easier when the shopper agrees with the salesperson. But researchers at Virginia Tech documented a circumstance where it pays off to have the shopper briefly argue with us. This is when the person comes to us with a preference firmly set and we want to change that preference. Maybe a brand different from the customer’s habitual choice would both serve the customer better and increase store profitability. In the political arena, it could be that a citizen consistently votes for a certain political party and we’d like to have the citizen fairly consider an alternative.
     The challenge is that when a consumer makes the same choice many times, their mind closes against objectively evaluating alternatives. In fact, they’ll distort new information in ways that support their decisions. You could present compelling arguments for changing their reasoning, but the thrust of those arguments won’t pierce the closed mind.
     This selective perception doesn’t occur when the shopper or voter has made the choice once or only a few times in the past. Right after a consumer chooses one among options, post-decision doubt commonly causes the consumer to closely attend to the benefits that would be offered by what’s been rejected. At the other extreme, after the same choice has been made a great number of times, variety-seeking arises, at least among younger consumers, so there’s interest in considering alternatives.
     It’s between these two circumstances where we might want to disrupt the thinking. The Virginia Tech studies suggest that if the salesperson or political campaigner presents a statement which stimulates a brief debate about an issue not directly related to the purchase decision, this opens up the thinking to afterwards assessing alternatives in product, brand, or candidate.
     You don’t want to make a debatable statement that destroys your credibility as an influence agent. In the studies, statements like, “Reading is bad for the mind” and “Only people who earn a lot of money are successful” were used. I recommend against those. Instead, to apply the principle of a helpful argument, ask the shopper to defend a decision they made prior to the one where you want to change their mind. “For what reasons did you select that option?” you’ll ask, and then say, “Others might disagree with your decision.”
     Let them win the argument. Finish off by saying, “I see your point,” before moving back to the sale you’re wanting to make.

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

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Argue Strategically with Shoppers
Supersize Switching with Superconsumers
Leverage for Changing Consumer Behavior
Encourage Category Consistency Time-to-Time
Dial In to Dialectical Thinking

Monday, September 10, 2018

Meddle with the Shopping Trip Middle

The price sensitivity of a shopper changes over the course of the shopping trip. Researchers at University of Kentucky and University of Groningen report that the nature of the change depends on whether the individual wants to keep to a tight budget. Budget-focused shoppers are more willing to buy higher priced options in the middle of their trip than at the beginning or as they are finishing up. On the other hand, shoppers not focused on a strict budget become relatively more price sensitive in the middle of the trip than at either end. The difference shows itself most clearly when there are a number of items being purchased and when the person is aware or made aware of the cumulative total of their expenditures as they shop.
     This phenomenon is useful to retailers who can assess whether the shopper is a budget or non-budget shopper and then track the shopper during the trip. As to the second of these, the salesperson asking the shopper, “What will you be looking for today?” allows that salesperson to determine what is the middle of the sequence. As to judging whether this is a budget or non-budget shopper, the choice among alternatives early in the purchase sequence is the evidence. For the budget shopper, suggest upgrades, add-ons like extended service contracts, and partner items toward the middle of the shopping trip. With the non-budget shopper, make those suggestions toward the end.
     In circumstances where a shopper intends to purchase one item on the trip, not a bunch, you might think the shopper with the budget would usually spend less money with you than the one without a budget. Surprise! Researchers at Brigham Young University and Emory University find that making a purchase with a budget in mind can lead the shopper to spend more if the budget is for one item.
     Say your customer has decided to spend no more than $150 on a mobile device. He sees price points at $80, $120, and $160. Sticking to the budget, the customer eliminates from consideration the $160 alternative. Because of how a consumer’s brain works, the result is that product quality and the inclusion of extra features become relatively more important and item price relatively less important. The customer is now more likely to select the $120 model, if it’s higher quality, than if budget wasn’t in mind at the time of choice.

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

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Downgrade Free Upgrades
Upgrade Your Upselling
Check Back for Complementary Add-Ons
Consider Matching Brand Effects
Make Extended Service Contracts Worthwhile
Hang In There for Impulse Buying on Budget
Flow Shoppers into Extra Purchases
Drive Toward Quality via Budgets
Know How Shopper Fungibility Functions

Monday, September 3, 2018

Toy Around with Impacts of Toilet Training

Psychoanalytic theory has fruitfully impacted marketing by bringing attention to subconscious motivations and merchandise symbolism. In 1956, psychologist Ernest Dichter, called by AdAge “the father of motivational research,” developed the highly successful “Put a tiger in your tank” slogan for gasoline company Esso/Exxon on the basis that people associate cars with power. The attractiveness to women of high heel shoes in spite of the shoes’ physical discomfort has been attributed to women’s subconscious drive to conquer penis envy. Hey, there are two of those phallic-shaped heels rather than the man’s one true phallus. Psychoanalysts would refer to this as women’s overcompensation.
     Now add to those impacts a research study about constipation, of all things. Researchers at University of Salento and York University based their studies on Sigmund Freud’s conceptualization of young children’s toilet training. This founder of psychoanalytic thinking described harsh or especially early toilet training as resulting in what some call an anal-retentive personality
     Study participants would be expected to hesitate candidly discussing their early childhood toilet training and their current position on a constipation-diarrhea self-rating scale. Therefore, the researchers used projective stimuli to make indirect qualitative inquiries. The outcome was that those who gave evidence of harsh toilet training were substantially more likely than the others to also show tightwad habits, discomfort with disorder, and stubbornness in consumer transactions, along with bowel constipation.
          The most compelling implications of these findings would be for medical professionals, such as physicians and pharmacists, when responding to symptoms of digestive disorders. Patients who report chronic constipation are especially likely to adhere to treatment regimens which emphasize neatness and, if financial expenditures are involved, to buy-in when money-off discounts are prominently featured.
Regarding other marketers, the researchers suggest that when you see tightwad tendencies, you expect to also see a high interest in cleaning products and a persistence in expressing complaints. The more general implication, though, is an appreciation for the influence of early childhood experiences on current consumer behavior.
     Still, beware of excessive application of psychoanalytic theory. As a prime example, though psychoanalytic interpretations emphasize the symbolism of phallic objects such as high heels, a quote often attributed to Dr. Freud himself is, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Actually, the evidence is that the doctor never actually said or wrote this. But the existence of the quote does illustrate concerns about overdoing the interpretations. Concerns residing subconsciously, most likely.

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

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Dump Purchase Ideas into the Subconscious
Foot the Bill for Stocking Shoes
Loosen Up Tightwads’ Wallets
Clean Up on Floors & Dollars with Scents
Include the Kids in Financial Literacy Talk
Peek Into Bathroom Rituals

Monday, August 27, 2018

Back Up Shoppers at the Front of the Line

Retailers’ concerns about shopper queues generally center on those last few at the back of the line and on the experience of those last few as they’re waiting. Now researchers at RWTH Aachen University and WHU, both in Germany, urge retailers to also take into account the experiences of those in front of a long line once they get the service of a salesperson or cashier. The finding is that these consumers feel pressured to transact their business promptly because of a sense of others breathing down their neck, and this results in less satisfying impressions of the store, the staff, and the merchandise. When this happens at the store checkout, the dangers are particularly great, since this becomes the customer’s last memory of the retailer.
     The researchers went on to determine that two techniques ease these negative effects:
  • Have the salesperson or cashier encourage the consumer not to feel at all rushed in getting the help they want. This works because it places the responsibility for the extra time on the salesperson, removing the social pressure on the consumer. 
  • Maintain distance between the waiting line and the location where service is being delivered. In the studies, this was accomplished by keeping the line out of sight of the service location. My store experience indicates to me that greater distance, even when sight lines are maintained, can work well. 
     Additional research-based tips for easing the irritation of all those in the queue:
  • If you can see the end of the line, greet each person as they join, even if only with a brief smile and a nod. 
  • Periodically say to those in line, “I apologize for the delay. I’ll be with you soon.” 
  • As you welcome each new person coming to you, acknowledge that they’ve been waiting. 
  • If the lines are unusually long, remark about a possible reason, saying, for example, “My goodness, people seem to really like today’s sale.” 
  • Maintain quality internet access so people can pass the time with mobile devices. 
     When in a store queue, shoppers become highly vigilant. One reason is the extra stress caused by being in close physical proximity to people we don’t know. Another reason is to be sure social norms are respected, such as nobody butting into line and each person waiting about an equal amount of time. So the best way to handle queues is to keep those lines moving.

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

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Acknowledge People Waiting in Line
Sense When Wait Irritation Heats Up
Ease Irritation by Eliciting White Lies