Monday, April 27, 2020

Theme Your Storewide Sales Promotions

Kroger’s in the U.S. holds “Cart Buster Savings Events.” Woolworths in Australia has “Two Day Super Sales,” while Columbia’s Éxito's features "Días de Precios Especiales.” These are highly advertised promotional events in which deep discounts are offered for a limited time on a wide range of a store’s item categories. They are retailer-specific rather than being held like industry-wide Black Friday sales. The discounts are received immediately rather than from a shopper accumulating loyalty program points.
     How can these storewide sales promotions be made most profitable for the retailer? Toward answering that question, researchers at University of Amsterdam and Tilburg University analyzed key profitability indicators over a period of 200 weeks for such events held by four Dutch grocery chains. Results were compared to those at three Dutch grocery chains which did not conduct these sales.
     There are reasons to believe storewide sales promotions aren’t profitable. Regular shoppers might choose to delay purchases until the time of the big discount and then stock up on enough to last until close to the next event. New customers might be drawn in by the deep discounts, but most of those people could be bargain hunters who move on to another store when prices revert to normal. In addition, although a low-price image builds store loyalty, the frequency with which a shopper sees discounts influences price image more than does the discount sizes. A low-price image for a retailer arises from frequent shallow discounts on a limited set of items to a greater extent than from infrequent deep discounts on a wide range of items.
     With the research taking all this into account, there was one characteristic of storewide sales promotions which made them most likely to be highly worthwhile for a retailer: A theme which is broadly publicized. Attention to the event is enhanced and attention to the retailer is prolonged beyond the time of the sale when there’s an integrating theme.
     Other research indicates that visually distinctive themes work best. Dutch retailer Albert Heijn's storewide "Hamsterweek” promotions are advertised with images of a hamster dragging bunches of buy-one-get-one-free merchandise from the store. In fact, visually striking themes help any sales promotion event. Still keep in mind that there are visually strong promotions where shoppers might subsequently wish they could unsee. Germany’s Priss hosted the ultimate come-as-you-are event. The first 100 consumers received a €270 shopping spree—if they shopped nude.

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Sharpen Your Price Image
Go for BOGO Free Over BOGO Discounted
Beef Up Promotions with Wardrobe Incentives
Strip Out the Benefits of Customer Costumes

Friday, April 24, 2020

Increment the Count of People Recommending You

Whether in purchases, politics, public health, or a plethora of other realms, some people are especially persuasive. Researchers at University of Connecticut, Indiana University, California State University-San Marcos, and Florida State University say a cardinal characteristic shared by these successful influence agents is that they view themselves as influential.
     This characteristic feeds on itself. People who are able to persuade others come to view themselves as influential, and those who view themselves as influential are motivated to persuade others. It’s what you’d expect. The researchers’ insight beyond the expected is how an organization can encourage a self-image of influence to emerge within people who don’t view themselves as persuasive. The benefit to you in using this is the increase in the count of people who will be recommending your brand and brands to others.
     The strategy begins by building people’s expertise about the topics in which you’d like them to be persuasive. You then provide opportunities for the people to interact with consumers who would be interested in those topics. Because of their expertise, these people will get positive feedback from the others. What emerges from this is a self-image of a confident persuasion agent.
     Many think successful influence agents need certain lifelong stable personality characteristics, principally extraversion. This is an “entity theory” which views influence as an inborn skill rather than as one which can emerge given the right circumstances. The research favors an “incremental theory,” which views consumers as open to development and motivated to improve influence abilities.
     The truth is a combination of the two theories. This is seen in the studies of a type of consumer called the market maven. Rather than considering themselves expert advisors on only certain retail products and services, market mavens counsel others about the whole shopping experience and go on to recommend specific stores.
     According to studies at University of Southern Mississippi and Florida State University, market mavens enjoy suggesting novel stores, brands, and item types to others, but they don’t want to propose ideas which conflict with the existing norms of their audiences. Although they enjoy spending more time and money at retail than the average shopper does, market mavens score high on assessments of frugality, since they continually strive to get maximum value for what they do spend.
     Some of these characteristics, such as social sensitivity, are likely inborn, but all of them can be developed through experience.

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Transform Loyalty with Store Workshops
Embrace Shopper Expertise
Personalize for the Market Maven Personality

Monday, April 20, 2020

Combat Seniors’ Prejudices Against Outgroups

Compared to younger adults, seniors show greater suspiciousness of, hostility toward, and discrimination against people they consider outsiders. Because diversity helps societies advance and because the percentage of older adults in societies is increasing, we’d do well to combat prejudices in the elderly. Researchers at University of North Carolina-Greensboro and Indiana University aided such an effort by exploring why seniors have these beliefs, feelings, and behaviors.
     The fundamental explanation has to do with what psychologists call “executive ability.” Evolution has designed us to avoid outsiders during times of stress. Human beings are tribal by nature. Yet people tame their base characteristics by recognizing the advantages in doing so. It is our executive ability—our combination of sophisticated perceptual, memory, reasoning, and decision-making skills—which allows us to accomplish this. Executive abilities deteriorate in the elderly brain, so there is a retreat to the tribalism. Moreover, the deterioration in all sorts of abilities with advanced age builds stress for the elderly, worsening the prejudice.
     The latest research augments this explanation with attention to seniors’ positivity bias. In their advanced years, consumers slant their thoughts toward the positive, putting a happy edge even on sadness and fear. But the positivity bias requires mental energy, and seniors like shortcuts. One shortcut is to make yourself look better by making others look worse. In the research studies, older non-Muslim adults who were struggling harder to maintain a positivity bias were more likely to exhibit bias toward Muslims. This relationship was less true in the parallel comparisons for younger adults.
     Providing seniors an abundance of confidence-building activities and easing their stress will serve to reduce their prejudices. Arranging person-to-person interactions with members of outgroups also helps. Some years ago, The Atlantic asked 105 accomplished African-Americans, “What is the most racist thing that has ever happened to you?” The leading answer was a variation of, “Probably something I don’t know ever happened. An opportunity not available to me because the racism kept it hidden.” Yale professor Elizabeth Alexander said, “The most racist thing that ever happened to me would likely be a continual underestimation of my intellectual ability and capacity, and the real insidious aspect of that kind of racism is that we don't know half the time when people are underestimating us.”
     Much prejudice is intentional, but much of it results from a failure of intention. The intention to probe beyond first impressions.

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Evolve the Most Basic Sales Pitches of All
Embrace Sadness in Marketing to Seniors
Set Your Sights on Doing Even Better

Friday, April 17, 2020

Estimate Participative Consumption Durations

There are drivers who consider a GPS travel duration estimate as proposing a stimulating challenge. It serves as a time to beat.
     Researchers at Boston College, University of Oregon, and University of Toronto find other sources of pleasure in duration estimates for participative consumption. In a world filled with options and obligations, we can feel starved for time. When making a consumption decision, we’ll attend to the monetary price, but also the expenditure in minutes or hours. People like to know how long they are in it for. How long will it take to bake the pie, assemble the furniture, or complete each training module?
     Contrary to what we might expect, a higher duration estimate, within reason, leads to greater enjoyment of the participation and greater willingness to recommend the activity to others. This seems to run counter to feeling starved for time, but it really doesn’t. Once a consumer agrees to take on the task, they can relax, not being concerned with the price in minutes. This is true even when, or maybe especially when, the estimate becomes that time to beat. The researchers interpret their findings in a context of social norms. Consumers consider duration estimates as, “This is how long other people took.”
     A recommendation from the research is to provide consumers with accurate time estimates for their expected participation. But the payoff in pleasure from a longer duration comes at the end, not the beginning. An earlier study at University of Toronto considered circumstances when a consumer is required to carry out some bothersome tasks: A carpet store requires the purchaser to prepare for the installation by moving items and then, after installation, moving items back into place. In applying for membership to a prestigious country club, the prospect must not only gather the funds for the dues, but also complete forms and coax references. To undergo a medical procedure, the patient might need to carry out a set of steps both before the procedure and afterwards.
     If a marketer tells the shopper the total expected duration, it makes the tasks seem less tolerable at the start, the studies found. The researchers went on, though, to suggest a way to ease the agony a bit: Encourage the consumer to unpack the time estimates, guessing on their own how long each step will take rather than accept a time for the total given by somebody else.

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Cojoin the Stages of Coproduction
Hand Off Intended Hands-Off Items
Unpack Unpleasant Experience Time Estimates
Round Up Benefits for the Shopper

Monday, April 13, 2020

Impede Hangovers from Impulse Buying

We’d like people to feel good afterwards about purchases they’ve made from us, including those purchases completed on impulse. Customers also prefer to avoid regrets. There are three effective ways in which they accomplish this, according to studies at Coventry University. By facilitating our shoppers use of these tactics, we avoid headaches for the shoppers and for ourselves hanging over afterwards from impulse purchases.
  • The shopper considers the item a justified indulgence. Facilitate this by telling the customer post-purchase why the item selection was wise and by delivering general praise to build a sense of deservedness. 
  • The shopper returns the item. Maintain liberal return and exchange policies. 
  • The shopper buries memories of the purchase. In general, it’s wise to ask regular customers what they thought about specific prior purchases we recall them having made. But if the shopper indicates in words, posture, or gestures that they don’t want to remember, stop asking. 
     A customer’s emotional reactions might change significantly in the minutes, hours, and days after an impulse purchase. The immediate reaction is often a sense of joy about the new acquisition. Later there can be doubt that the purchase decision was wise or shame that self-control was abandoned. This is more likely when product performance disappoints or the item has laid unused for a long time. The three tactics are set off by the doubt and shame so can occur well after the purchase itself.
     Changes over briefer time spans apply to how shoppers make impulse purchases. People on a tight budget who make an unplanned purchase immediately become less likely to make another unplanned purchase. That finding in studies at University of Notre Dame, University of Pittsburgh, and Market Rise Consulting isn’t at all surprising. But the researchers hung in there and did find something retailers might not expect: After a while, the resistance fades. The tight-budget shopper who made an impulse purchase earlier becomes more likely to make another one than does the tight-budget shopper who hadn’t already made an impulse purchase.
     In the spirit of those researchers, you should hang in there, too. Encourage shoppers to make an unplanned purchase early in their store visit, create a store experience which tempts shoppers to stay for a while, and then, later, encourage another unplanned purchase.
     To encourage impulse sales, stimulate quick thinking. Bright colors. Animation. Uniform sizes and prices. Easy access to the items. Short waits.

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Have Post-Sale Product Literature
Return to Reconsider Your Return Policy
Ask for Item Opinions Post-Purchase
Hang In There for Impulse Buying on Budget
Stimulate Quick Thinking for Impulse Sales

Friday, April 10, 2020

Effect Sales with Affective Fluency

You’ll want identifying text on packaging for items you sell, but it’s the right picture which often brings about the sale. Affective fluency is why, according to researchers at Kedge Business School, Massey University, and University of New South Wales. They define “affective fluency” as enjoyment in deriving product-relevant information from the package.
     Their studies show how adding a picture to text on a wine label enhances product appeal, expectations of pleasure in consumption, and purchase intentions. The addition of any picture makes decoding the label contents more enjoyable for consumers. But generally, a picture which fits both the nature of the product and the text on the label will do best. On a wine labeled Dragon Estate, an added depiction of a dragon effected better results than a Pegasus image. For a Falcon Estate wine, consumers seeing a falcon image on the label expressed greater willingness to buy than did those seeing a heron image.
     The names on items you sell probably won’t all lend themselves to such obvious image choices. Affective fluency also develops if a picture on the package portrays the reaction you intend people to have when consuming the product. Such a picture lessens resistances aroused by abundant or complex text, such as for products requiring warnings on the label. People buy items for the reactions they’ll have to the items. Emotional reactions flow better from the right images than from descriptive text.
     Affective fluency is greater when the text and picture on a label are more creatively abstract than when sticking to the mundane concrete. In the research studies, a bottle bearing the name Mystery Estate and an image of a unicorn was rated as both having greater affective fluency and containing better tasting wine than a bottle bearing the name Mastery Estate and an image of a horse. The layout of the labels was the same and the contents of the bottles were actually from the identical batch of wine.
     Still, be sure that the abstractness refers to the item you’re selling. Early California Fruit Growers Exchange orange crate labels portrayed snow-capped mountains and beaches dotted with sun umbrellas. Around 1922, the company realized the labels were establishing a distinctive image, all right, but were selling California more than selling the fruit. By 1935, the label had been changed to include the emotion-packed word “Sunkist” along with an image of a sun-kissed orange.

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Label Why They Don’t Read the Labels
Punch Up Offerings with Distinctive Labeling
Toast Straightforward Label Designs
Color Appetites with Fitting Hues

Monday, April 6, 2020

Texture Icons for Seniors’ Ease

Ecommerce via smartphones benefits sellers when options are presented which are easy for shoppers to understand and quick to choose among. We might think that a way to do this is to design icons on the screen as simple two-dimensional graphics, each icon clearly representative of the action a tap triggers.
     Studies at China’s Chongqing University do support this practice, but with a significant exception: As contrasted with those who are younger, older adults complete smartphone transactions better and are more comfortable when icons which represent options during the shopping are skeuomorphic, not flat. Skeuomorphic design uses textures, shadows, and highlights to portray depth, and this adds to the ease of recognition. The seniors want concrete rather than abstract representations. Younger adults learn to use the system faster with skeuomorphic than with flat representations. However, once they’ve learned, they prefer the simpler flat icons. This preference does not generally hold for older adults.
     Seniors seek simplicity. Flat icons are simpler than the three-dimensional skeuomorphic icons with all their textures, shadows, and highlights. But for seniors, the importance of simplicity in recognizing and remembering what each icon does outweighs the importance of simple icon design.
     Research studies in cultures other than the Chinese have provided similar results. Still, cultural trends of a sort other than national identity could influence the findings. At the time of the studies, many young adults worldwide prized minimalism in their lives as consumers. Once you’ve mastered distinguishing the functions, then perceiving flat icons takes a minimum of attention. Maybe social trends will change and ornate icons will be preferred. In the Chongqing study, younger adults, unlike the older adults, considered flat icons to be prettier than skeuomorphic icons. However, other studies produced different results.
     Simplicity helps when we speed. Still, we often would like ecommerce shoppers to linger a bit on the site, and complexity in icon design might achieve that. When user interfaces are aesthetically pleasing, the shopper should forgive us for the slight slowdown. Fundamental characteristics of aesthetically pleasing user interfaces include:
  • Symmetry. Shoppers like balance in design, with matching elements on the left and right and on the front and rear. 
  • Unifying themes. The different parts of the item appearance should be seen as fitting together into a group. Shoppers like repetition of themes. 
  • Familiarity. The shape should represent to the consumer a familiar story. Familiarity may come about because of a design common in the culture. 

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Segment Marketing of Ecommerce to Seniors
Sandbag Senior Swindles
Simplify the Shopping
Sketch Item Aesthetics If Appreciated

Friday, April 3, 2020

Confirm Self-Service Transactions Soundly

Point-of-sale technologies like self-checkout kiosks can save money for retailers and time for customers. The downside is that many shoppers feel uncomfortable using the technologies. Researchers at Oregon State University and Rutgers University found that an underappreciated cause of this is mistrust in the performance of the device.
     The researchers then identified a simple way to increase the trust: Give sounds of confirmation as the transaction progresses. Silence generates annoying uncertainty, while a brief series of tones, for instance, tells the customer that the device is carrying out their wishes. This relaxes the customer’s concerns about the device’s performance, including the accuracy of tabulations and the security of cashless payment information. In the studies, this raised customer satisfaction and purchase intentions.
     Most self-service technologies do generate confirmation sounds. But marketers might not realize how the nature of the sound impacts the degree of trust which is generated or mistrust reduced. For instance, use higher-pitched auditory confirmation in busy store environments where the mishmash of sounds, smells, and sights disrupts the customer’s concentration. Higher-pitched tones break through sensory clutter.
     In less busy environments, you might choose more soothing sounds. People associate lower pitches with trustworthiness. Or consider making the final transaction confirmation signal a snippet of the jingle melody from your radio and TV ad. Signature sensory sensations strengthen the store image. Still another option is to close out the sale with a sound of closing out, such as that of a door shutting. Studies suggest this will reduce the rate of people returning merchandise.
     Since some of the last sounds the shopper hears before leaving the store are those associated with making the purchase, those sounds are significant. A most pleasing sound to a customer completing a transaction is “Thank you,” so you might be tempted to use “Thank you” as the final confirmation sound on self-checkout terminals. I recommend against this because it risks entering the uncanny valley. When we can’t tell whether a computerized representation of a human is real or not, we experience revulsion. If the android looks exactly like a human being, we’re attracted to it. If it looks similar to a human, but we can easily tell it’s not real, we’re amused. However, when the resemblance is very close, but we’re not sure if it’s real, we feel creepy. That dip in the positive emotion is why the effect is called the uncanny valley.

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Tell Shiitakes from Shinola
Sound On When the Purchase is Completed
Close Out the Purchase
Creep Out Shoppers, But Explain