Monday, February 24, 2014

Request Reciprocity

When potential customers access your website or social media channel, you’d like to draw information from them. It might be information you’ll use later to contact them with customized offers. It might be demographic and psychographic information you’ll use to shape your overall merchandising and marketing.
     Many consumer behavior studies have found that people are more likely to give a retailer information about themselves when the retailer convinces the people that the findings will be used to benefit them personally and only for that purpose. Now, based on their results, researchers at Technische Universität München, Universität Passau, and ETH Zürich suggest an additional tactic sequence: Give valuable information for free on the website or via the social media channel; prominently remind the person that you’ve made this gift; and then ask for the information from the person.
     It’s all in the spirit of what’s captured, albeit in a cynical vein, in that song “When You’re Good to Mama” from “Chicago,” that hit musical: “Because the system works—the system called reciprocity.” Furthermore, reciprocity is an effective lever in contexts other than online inquiries and prisons.
     The form it takes depends on how the consumer perceives the relationship with you. For example, in a University of Toronto study, health club members were offered a reward for completing a one-hour survey. With some participants, the reward was a free one-hour class at the health club, while for the others, it was a $15 discount on a purchase at the club. The researchers considered the free class to be more similar to the benefit given the club by the survey respondent—one hour of time.
     Respondents in the study who had a friend-of-the-family type relationship with the club were more comfortable with getting the $15 discount. They thought that friends deserve to make choices. On the other hand, those considering themselves to be no more than customers were more comfortable with the free class.
     Here, the favor was asked of the consumer first and reciprocity invoked afterwards. It’s a version of the Ben Franklin Effect: If someone does you a favor, they become more loyal to you. Mr. Franklin wrote about a legislator who disliked him. Mr. Franklin decided to ask the legislator to do the favor of loaning Mr. Franklin a particular book for a few days. As Ben tells the tale, this cultivated loyalty of the legislator toward Mr. Franklin.

Click below for more: 
Refine Your Psychographics 
Build Trust Before Asking for Information 
Clarify Expectations with Friendship Customers 
Peer into Pressure from Obligation 
Favor Reciprocity with a Ben Franklin Effect

Monday, February 17, 2014

Unmask Utility Blindness for Shoppers

Why will shoppers pass up purchasing an item package which carries high value for them at the price you’re charging? For that matter, why will shoppers sometimes take advantage of a discount on a package they’d realize, if they only thought about it, has limited value to them?
     According to researchers at China’s Tsinghua University, a major explanation is that busy consumers often will look too closely at the amount of the discount, and this blinds them to the actual utility of the bundle for their own use. This is most likely in sales of bundled items which don’t seem to go together.
     The evidence was in experiments with students at a major North American University who were asked about their willingness to buy a product bundle. In one study, the offer cost $92, but it was presented in two different ways to different groups of study participants:
  • Pay $72 for a computer printer if you also buy an additional product for $20.
  • Pay $92 for a computer printer and receive an additional product worth $20 at no additional charge.
     For some of the people in each group, the additional product was an ink cartridge for use inside the printer. For the other people in each group, the additional product was an optical mouse.
     With those offered the printer cartridge, how the offer was presented didn’t noticeably affect the willingness to buy. The willingness was much the same whether or not the cartridge came for free or required a $20 payment. But with those offered the optical mouse, the study participants’ expressed willingness to buy was higher when they were told they’d get the mouse for free. It seemed like a better deal.
     The researchers advise retailers to unmask utility blindness in shoppers for product bundles by pointing out how the items fit well together. Researchers at Pepperdine University and Northwestern University give similar advice.
     Participants in their study said they’d pay $2,000 for a high-definition television and they’d pay $10 for a video cable, but later said they’d expect to pay $1,950 for the combination.
     The same phenomenon occurred when researchers paired an inexpensive tote bag with a premium-priced suitcase. Grafting an inexpensive item onto an expensive item cheapens the price image of the expensive item if one of the items doesn’t fit into the other.
     Avoid the price depreciation by talking about the synergy of the items.

Click below for more: 
Bundle Expensive & Cheap Synergistically 
Bundle Utility, Discount Hedonism 
Make Virtual Bundle Shoppers Feel Smart 
Offer Bonus Packs of Virtue, Discounts on Vice 
Package Your Products for Premium Pricing

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sloganize for City Attraction

A UCLA and University of California-San Diego survey of people who’d moved away from the Windy City found that visits to tourist attractions, such as Chicago’s Millennium Park, were clustered toward the very end of residency, perhaps in the midst of packing up. Other surveys had found that tourists visiting a city for three weeks saw more of the major attractions than residents of three or more years.
     The researchers suggest tourism retailers sell to locals the idea of a “staycation,” such as a gift certificate for specific dates to visit the nearby attractions. The proposed marketing hook: “Now’s the time to see.”
     Studies from Erasmus University, University of Hamburg, and Kühne Logistics University support the idea that, in marketing a city to residents, prospective residents, and prospective visitors, the right slogan helps. Express in the slogan the values consumers find attractive. For residents and prospective residents, these are values the people want to live with. For visitors, the values might be ones vacation shoppers want to live up to. Charleston, South Carolina has had success with the tag line “Where history lives.”
     Do be sure the city lives up to the slogan, too. Las Vegas has gotten lots of mileage from their “What happens here, stays here” campaign. That’s the mileage visitors have logged bringing their money to leave in Sin City. “What happens here, stays here” was the Las Vegas brand’s promise. It was blatantly violated during fall 2012 with the sale and subsequent publication of photos of U.K. Prince Harry and a female partner close to the climax of a strip billiards game. The balls, as well as the billiard cues, were not visible in the photos, but a naked prince and lady were.
     When a brand promise is violated, acknowledge this and declare corrective action. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority did both with an ad, in the format of a World War II propaganda poster, reading, “Keep Calm and Carry On Harry,” and a full-page ad in USA Today reading, “We are asking for a shun on these exploiters…. We will not play with them anymore.”
     Whatever slogan you use, keep it upbeat. The LVCVA once used a “What Happens in Blank” TV spot to point out how inserting your own town’s name highlights how your own town falls short. For many consumers, the ad left a bitter aftertaste.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Show Them What They’ll Never See Again 
Cast Magic Spells for Escape Benefits 
Honor Your Brand’s Promises

Monday, February 3, 2014

Get Your Sales in Black & White

Soon after it began publication in 1967, the magazine Psychology Today challenged readers to submit as many phrases as possible in which the word “black” had positive connotations. The writers got us started with phrases like “Black Beauty” and “in the black,” but contended that it would be much tougher to meet the challenge than to think of phrases in which “white” implied positive.
     Now, approaching a half century later, researchers at Washington State University, Boston University, and University of Connecticut find that white has more positive connotations overall than does black among consumers. The preference held for both the Caucasian-Americans and African-Americans in the study. 
     Consumers tend to give higher ratings to products, packaging, and ads which feature white than those featuring black.
     There are cultural determinants of color associations. In most of North America, white brings to mind purity and cleanliness, while in most Asian countries, white is associated with death. Shoppers in India, Japan and many parts of Europe think of black as a negative color. Subconscious associations in the U.S. are of power with a touch of menace. But in the Middle East, black has generally positive associations.
     Black and white color preferences are usually subconscious—called “implicit attitudes” by consumer psychologists—and these preferences can be negated when shoppers are made aware of them. Such awareness comes, in particular, when the black and white has to do with people rather than products.
     In a Hong Kong University of Science and Technology study, White American and Black American consumers were asked to view a series of clothing ads featuring a mix of Black models and White models. Later, each study participant was asked to estimate the number of White and Black models in the ads.
     All the consumers in the study—whether Black or White—were generally accurate in guessing the number of White models in the ads. But with the Black models, the Black consumers’ estimates were more influenced than the estimates of the White consumers by a tendency of those study participants to actually count the number of models.
     The researchers attribute the differences to a high interest consumers of a racial minority have in checking that their race is represented equitably. Researchers from Stanford University found that Black Americans had more positive reactions to an ad with Black actors than American Whites had to the same sort of ad featuring White actors.

Click below for more: 
Explicate Explicit/Implicit Attitudes 
Exercise Cultural Sensitivity in Color Use 
Spring Your Colors 
Stand Out 
Race for Recognition 
Diversify Job Duties in Diversity Management