Sunday, May 19, 2013

Speak to Shoppers’ Language Stereotypes

Signage on the walls of your store and packages or tags on the items you’re displaying may carry text in more than one language. Stay aware, retailer, that beyond what the text says, the national identity of the languages influences shopper perceptions of the quality of your offerings.
     Researchers at Old Dominion University and Chapman University used as the sample for their studies people whose primary language was English. These consumers were asked to evaluate products with packaging that contained either English only, English plus Spanish, or English/Spanish/French. The products and the general package designs were the same; only the number of languages used on the packages differed.
     The highest quality rating went to the items in English-only packaging. Explanations for this include patriotism, ethnocentrism, and familiarity. Your shoppers are most comfortable reading signage, package text, and tag text which is completely in their primary language. Those whose primary language is Spanish would be most comfortable with Spanish-only text.
     The lowest quality ratings were for the items in packages with both English and Spanish text. But this was true on average, not for all the consumers in the study. Those participants who told the researchers they believed Spanish-speaking shoppers buy lower-quality products carried that stereotype into their product ratings calculations.
     This bias was reduced if the prejudiced participants were initially told a price for the item which was relatively high for that product category. As in other settings, the price-quality link strongly influences consumers. If an item costs more, it’s likely to be better, they think. An implication for retailers is that there are situations in which you can combat stereotypes by setting prices toward the high end.
     Items in the trilingual packaging received quality ratings between items in the other two conditions. Perhaps the stereotypes surrounding French consumers are especially positive, or maybe having the three languages implied a global endorsement of the item.
     This association of prestige with a national identity leads to an exception to the rule that shoppers will always be most comfortable with signage, package text, and tag text in their primary language. Researchers at University of Michigan and University of Minnesota explored the choice of language in advertising to consumers in India. The researchers found that the home language—Hindi, in this case—worked best when selling necessities, such as detergent. However, English worked best when selling luxury items, such as gourmet chocolates.

Click below for more: 
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