Monday, September 30, 2019

Remember Effective Senior Memory Training

Certain types of training programs can reverse memory loss in elderly adults. Researchers at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto and York University note that a set of meticulous studies have shown that to be true. These researchers then go on to document how, by improving recall skills, these programs also increase social confidence. A lack of such confidence can lead elderly adults to avoid interactions with family and friends, increasing the dangers associated with loneliness. Although a survey of more than 20,000 American adults found that feelings of loneliness decrease with age, those seniors who do feel lonely are at greater risk for physical and mental illnesses.
     Studies at University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign identify an often unrecognized way in which memory skills are important for social interaction in a group: The ability to recall what words and terms are preferred by each member of an audience. Different people may understand different terms for the same item. The authors of the report give as an example how some people are more familiar with the term “soda,” while others prefer the term “pop.”
     Differences arise because of personal history and also because of prior experience interacting with the speaker. If an elderly adult fails to use the best term or gives an unnecessary explanation before using a term, this makes the senior appear less competent, the listener might look uncomfortable, and perceiving this discomfort can cause the senior to avoid further interaction.
     The studies find that seniors generally can design what they say to fit the different members of their audience, but that is easier when the senior’s memory is intact. Effective memory training teaches seniors transferable strategies, such as learning to maintain attention and associating names and facts with creative visual images. This is better than teaching skills which apply only in specific situations, such as rote memorization of word lists.
     There’s enough flimflam directed at seniors that it’s nice to know reputable memory training programs do exist. Marketers can feel comfortable selling such programs. A broader importance for retailers is that they can benefit both their elderly customers and their sales efforts by incorporating techniques from the effective programs. Minimize distractions when consulting with seniors so they can pay attention. Assist attention by building logical arguments and repeating key points. Employ metaphors and similes which encourage visual imagery. Ask the senior to reflect back in their own words what you’ve told them.

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Forget Stereotypes of Seniors’ Memory Deficits
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Keep Calm to Carry On Seniors’ Fraud Evasion
Picture the Power of Visual Metaphors

Monday, September 23, 2019

Prop Up Frenzy with Pop-Up Servicescapes?

When people shop in a frenzied retail setting, do they become more likely to shop in a frenzied manner? Researchers at Lund University endeavored to answer that question with an ethnographic study of pop-up stores. Unlike controlled experimental studies, in which the researcher takes care to maintain an objective distance from the study participants, ethnographic researchers get intimately involved with the culture of the study participants. The Lund University data collection included not only in-depth observation and semi-structured interviews of people while they were shopping in pop-up stores, but also reflections of one of the researchers as she herself shopped in some of these stores.
     Pop-up stores are retail sales outlets set up for limited periods of time, usually with short notice of the pop-up’s opening and closing dates and almost always in locations unconventional for the retailer. The servicescape—the physical environment in which selling is conducted—among the eleven pop-up stores included in study was described by the researchers as substantially more frenzied than the usual servicescapes of these retailers. The store interiors were crowded, and there were queues outside. Store signage and the merchandise arrangements looked improvised and messy. Store employees were much more involved with clearing the ongoing clutter than with assisting the shoppers.
     The researchers then noted how the consumer behavior was more frenzied than what is seen in traditional retail servicescapes. Shoppers hurriedly rummaged through piles of merchandise. They hoarded items they hadn’t yet decided whether to buy. They tried on clothing while in front of other shoppers. They showed unusually keen interest in items which were going out of fashion or were otherwise likely to be discontinued in most retail outlets.
     After analyzing their ethnographic data collection, the researchers concluded that the wild pop-up store servicescapes precipitated in the shoppers wildly distinctive behavior.
     Ethnographic consumer behavior research does have advantages. It’s conducted in a naturalistic setting with genuine servicescapes, not in a sterile laboratory with the sample limited to college students. The self-reports of the researchers as participants allow richer interpretation of the data. There are opportunities for expanding the inquiry on the fly and otherwise improvising to explore issues not envisioned in the original research design.
     Still, when encountering reports based on researchers living among the consumer natives, recognize the limitations. Because this was not a controlled experimental study, the conclusions are only suggestive of cause-and-effect. 

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Pop Up Sales with Pop-Up Stores
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Monday, September 16, 2019

Secrete Loyalty with Secret Consumption

How are Starbucks and Star Trek alike? One way, report researchers at Towson University and Kent State University, is that a certain percentage of consumers with loyalty to each of those don’t want others to know about it. Secrecy about favored brand use is not rare, the researchers found. About 60% of people in their sample said they make it a point to not use at least one of their favored brands in front of others, 22% said they lie about which brand is their favorite, and 18% said they’d deny the brand preference if asked directly.
     The motivations for such secrecy ranged widely: Avoiding conflict with friends who are loyal to other brands. Shame at using inexpensive brands, or fear of shaming others who can’t afford the expensive brands. A desire to stay distinctive. Embarrassment about the brand associations, such as a fashion line targeted to large bodies or a shampoo advertised for dandruff control. Some habitués of Starbucks fear they’d be chastised for not frequenting locally-owned cafes. Some Trekkies think their fandom would be ridiculed as juvenile.
     But across the range of reasons for brand usage secrecy, there’s a shared result: Brand loyalty grows. Secrecy increases preoccupation with the brand. It takes psychological energy to keep a secret, and even more to tell a lie. You need to remember who you lied to and what you said. As a result, those keeping the secret think about the brand more often, and that cultivates brand loyalty.
     This argues for encouraging your customers to keep their brand usage secret. What you’d give up, however, are the advantages of word-of-mouth advertising. The principle of WOM is for your satisfied customers to talk as broadly as possible about their brand usage, not keep it secret.
     Your resolution of this dilemma might be to develop a brand community of secret fans—helping these people stay in touch with each other. Results from a Harvard University study suggest you also offer shopping bags carrying the brand logo to people whether or not they use the brand. The researchers refer to users of these bags as brand tourists rather than brand immigrants. When those with secret brand loyalty see these bags being carried around, they’ll be reassured their own brand usage is acceptable and consider the public display as praise for the brand. Those carrying the bags become more likely to try the brand.

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Use Creative Ads to Avoid Benefits Overload

Enthusiastic advertisers may want to say so many good things about an item that they could easily overload the viewers of the ad. Researchers based at Appalachian State University and University of Massachusetts find that upping the creativity of the ad can help. However, this technique works only when the item being advertised is viewed by consumers as being hedonic fun rather than strictly functional.
     In the experiments, the number of benefits claims in an ad ranged from three to twelve. The ads designed to be more creative used visual puns such as a coffee cup having an on-off switch added and the “L” in an ad for an airline being replaced with an image of an open suitcase.
     When the coffee or airline travel was described to the study participants as serving a utilitarian purpose, a creative ad interfered with the ability to evaluate a larger number of claims. The respondents liked the ad less. But when the purpose of consuming the coffee or taking a flight was hedonic, creativity in the ad led to more positive impressions with the larger number of benefits.
     The explanation for this is that, when purchase motivation is hedonic, shoppers take decision making shortcuts rather than analyzing each benefits statement. They get a global impression based on more benefits being better, and they then turn to evaluating other aspects of the ad, such as creativity. The advice from all this for marketers is to load your ad with benefits statements when you succeed in making the ad creative and you’re selling the item for its hedonic appeal.
     University of Cologne studies provided five ways to assess how creative your ad is:
  • Originality. How different is the ad from other ads about similar consumption choices which are available to the consumer? 
  • Flexibility. To what degree does the ad shift from one idea to another? 
  • Elaboration. In the ad, how many different details are presented at the same time? 
  • Synthesis. How well does the ad conceptually join together divergent ideas and details? 
  • Artistic value. How well does the ad use words, music, sounds, colors, and/or images to produce aesthetic pleasure? 
     Of these five, elaboration and artistic value had the largest relative impact on moving consumers beyond remembering an ad to actually deciding where to spend their money. Although originality on its own was not particularly effective, the most powerful two-dimension combination was originality plus elaboration.

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Abstract Shoppers to Avoid Choice Overload
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Monday, September 2, 2019

Intimate with Intimacy for Senior Sex Appeal

In ads, it’s occasionally better to intimate—delicately hint—rather than to starkly pitch your case. One such circumstance is when using sex appeal to sell to senior citizens. That’s suggested by findings at Pennsylvania State University and at Germany’s Humboldt University, Max Planck Institute, MSB Medical School, and Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
     The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud claimed pretty much everything we do springs from the sex drive. Lots of people thought Sigmund was taking a good thing too far. Still, it's true that the sex drive does move the merchandise.
     In using this fact, realize the sex drive refers to much more than raw passion. In consumer psychology, it means the mutual attraction of masculinity and femininity toward each other. It's the Yin and the Yang. The complete package of passion is in the interaction. And with seniors as compared to younger adults, it is in thoughts of intimacy to a greater degree than in thoughts, fantasies, and desires around sexual intercourse. For seniors, depictions in ads of touching, hugging, cuddling, and kissing will resonate well and arouse a sales appeal paralleling how depictions of sexually attractive models and sexually suggestive behaviors work for younger target markets.
     The waning preoccupation with sexual intercourse among the elderly can be attributed to hormonal declines, increases in cardiovascular and metabolic conditions, and loss of partners as people age. There is a psychological shift from pleasure as excitement to pleasure as the security which intimacy provides. On average, older adults prefer calm TV advertisements with few camera changes, slower speech, and relaxing or no music over more arousing advertisements.
     In the studies of sex and intimacy, two of the intimacy scale items were “I feel safe and accepted during sex” and “My needs for acceptance and security are currently satisfied.” Overall, the older participants in the study showed lower frequency of sexual activity and sexual thoughts than did the younger participants, but not different ratings of intimacy.
     With all of this, acknowledge the range of individual differences among seniors. About one-third of the 60 to 82 year olds in the studies reported more blatantly sexual thoughts and activities than did the averages for even the comparison group of 22 to 36 year olds. Still, remember that the conclusions were based on self-report measures. Hmm. Might the finding of enlarged libido among these one-third be due at least in part to boastful exaggeration or wishful thinking?

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