Friday, February 26, 2021

Break Out Breakpoints by Output

Fans of the 1984 movie “This Is Spinal Tap” should easily recall the scene where Marty DiBergi, played by Rob Reiner, announces his Marshall Amps guitar amplifier blasts louder than others simply because the highest number on the dial plate is 11, not just 10.
     Placing a higher number on the dial does not, in itself, increase the actual output, of course, But as verified by a year 2020 Journal of Consumer Psychology paper, people will believe it does. Asked to judge whether a Black & Decker food blender with four speed levels or a Sunbeam food blender with seven levels had higher potential power, most study participants picked the Sunbeam. However, the Black & Decker had 440 watts of power, while the Sunbeam had 400. Parallel results were found for a body massager’s power and a printer’s image resolution.
     Having more settings does give the user greater control, so is a benefit to be featured. People enjoy customizing their experiences with a product they’re using. Changing levels, even when unnecessary from a strictly functional perspective, lends variety, and people like that spice as well.
     However, when the shopper goes on to take a greater choice of settings to indicate higher maximum output, the shopper has been misled. Even though the misdirection may often be unintentional, it’s still a problem for ethical marketers. It’s to your advantage to have consumers make informed decisions.
     The solution is straightforward: Along with announcing the number of breakpoints on the dial, break out the output corresponding to each. The research team realized this is not done frequently enough. For a sample of 100 body massagers and 100 vacuum cleaners listed on Amazon, no output-relevant information was given to explain the settings. Take inspiration from this to offer your target audiences not just the advantages of more settings, but also the justified empowerment from knowing what the settings signify.
     Having done that, also allow yourself to take inspiration from appreciation earned by Christopher Guest, a writer and actor in “This Is Spinal Tap.” He tells how, following the popularity of that movie, Marshall Amps introduced to their merchandise line an amplifier with dial settings going up to 20. Perhaps out of gratitude to Mr. Guest for his part in kicking off this marketing angle, Marshall also made a special dial plate expressively for him. The highest mark on that dial is the infinity symbol.

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Intrigue, But Don’t Mislead 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Unwind Rejection Using Wind in the Face

People we want to persuade can get so wound up into constricted thinking that they reject beneficial ideas and items. Researchers at University of Massachusetts and University of Houston believe an idea for a good counterforce to this has blown their way: Face the persuasion target into the wind.
     Not anything near a gale-force wind. In four of their studies, the breeze was rated as 1 on the Beaufort wind force scale, where a lower number indicates a gentler flow. The participants in another study were approached as they were preparing to fly a kite. In one of the studies, the beneficial effects were obtained by asking the individual sitting in front of their computer just to vividly imagine a breeze blowing in their face.
     Those beneficial effects consisted of an increased openness to innovative ideas, items, and methods. Interest in the more innovative alternative from a pair of chairs, backpacks, or spice racks. Willingness to build a custom kite from a kit. More creativity when considering what alien life forms might look like. The measurements were in comparison to people who had, or imagined, airflow blowing on their back instead of their face.
     Because a gentle breeze is often part of the outdoor marketplace, we’d expect greater potential for creative acceptance there than inside. The research findings indicate we’d want to have the customer turn into the airflow, or at least have the breeze blow onto the side of their face. Considerations for airflow inside a store depend on the ventilation system mechanics, temperature control, possible use of in-store fragrances, and more. We can now add to this list the advantages of configuring so that prospects get a bit of wind from the front in store situations where we want innovative thinking.
     The front of the head is more sensitive than the back to airflow, so we’d expect the same wind speed to make more of difference. The researchers attribute the effect to energizing the individual. It should be particularly useful for the many consumers in society who are not only constricted in their thinking, but also too fatigued to think innovatively. Researchers at University of British Columbia, University of Hong Kong, and Tsinghua University reported that sleepy shoppers favor variety and novelty in order to keep themselves alert. The airflow into the face would assist in having the sleepyheads go on to consider purchasing those novel items.

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Flex Your Influence for Shopper Flexibility 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Cook Up Dynamic Pricing with Privacy Cookies

To increase your ecommerce customers’ acceptance of price hikes, persuade them to authorize your collection of information about them. They become more likely to retain trust in your business practices and continue to purchase from you. It works because, after agreeing to have you learn about their browsing habits, they’ll attribute more of the responsibility for a price increase to some characteristic of themselves rather than to any exploitive intent by you.
     This technique, based on research findings from HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, can be exploited in ways which are unethical. Don’t do that. But because consumers often fail to appreciate the justified basis for price increases, getting signoffs on privacy cookies can balance the seller-buyer relationship.
     The researchers point out that, for the effect to take hold, the agreement for information collection must be by the consumer’s affirmative choice, not from a default setting the consumer overlooks. Many jurisdictions are requiring disclosures about what data the retailer intends to collect, and then allowing opt-out. You’ll want to structure the agreement as an opt-in.
     When done properly, the technique also preserves perceptions of a fair policy when you drop item prices. These are examples of dynamic pricing, also called adaptive pricing, in which a marketer changes prices based upon anticipated demand from a customer or group of customers. The privacy cookie agreement is most useful for ecommerce vendors who change prices frequently.
     There’s still the challenge of persuading the ecommerce shopper to yield some of their privacy. Research findings from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut and Providence College in Rhode Island indicate that the practices often required by regulatory bodies help accomplish this: State to customers what information you’d like to gather about them, how you’ll be using the information to make their individual shopping experiences more efficient and fruitful, and how you will safeguard the security of that information.
     Benefits of shoppers sharing information with you which are likely to be attractive include: 
  • Tailoring special offers for future purchases and gift suggestions based on what you have looked at. 
  • Giving advance information on new products and/or services so you could be among the first to have the item 
  • Modifying your overall merchandise mix based on what’s discovered about you and others similar to you 
  • Preferential treatment, such as bonus loyalty program credits, expedited item delivery, or private customer service sites because of your willingness to share information.
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Get Price Hike Irritation Over With 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Circulate Item Names to Fit Circadian Rhythm

It makes sense, right off, that consumables known to be infused heavily with caffeine are more likely to be purchased mornings rather than evenings. Stretch that assumption and you’ll understand the finding from UNSW and Queensland University of Technology that items with energy-infused names sell better earlier in the day. Mellow-named products show the reverse trend.
     In tracking a total of more than 8,000 transactions collected during a period of more than 160 consecutive days at a United Kingdom bakery, this held true for Mighty Protein Meal or Hearty & Seasonal on the one hand and Ella’s Kitchen Pouches or Victorian Sponge on the other. Moreover, a fine-grained analysis of the data showed how the timeline shapes changed over the days because of the seasonal shifts in sunrise and sunset. Note that the correlations held true for the energy association with the item name, not necessarily the energizing power of item ingredients.
     These are trends and so general tendencies. University students during finals week and workers recently shifting to the graveyard shift might reserve those caffeine-infused items for nighttime. We’d expect the same sorts of exceptions with preferences for the energy-infused item names. Still, the researchers suggest retailers circulate in-store marketing of items over the period of the day to fit the typical sleep-wake cycle, the circadian rhythm.
     Your shoppers’ degree of wakefulness has other implications, too. Sleepy shoppers favor variety and novelty. Researchers at University of British Columbia, University of Hong Kong, and Tsinghua University say this finding is counterintuitive. You’d expect sleepyheads to want to simplify decision tasks so they could start napping. The narrower the portfolio to filter, the better, so you’d think. But it turns out that, instead, because consumers often consider their shopping to be necessary, they hanker for enough variety to stimulate themselves into wakefulness. Along with this, people make riskier decisions when they’re sleepy, and having more alternatives available increases the feeling of risk.
     Also attend to other cyclical influences. Annual weather changes are somewhat predictable, and they affect large segments of your customers the same way. Market to take account of them. In February, you can pretty much count on everybody being cold if they go outside when your store is in Buffalo, New York and quite warm when outside a store in Adelaide, South Australia. Stock more stay-at-home and go-out-protected items at one time of year than at the others.

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Slip Variety into Sleepy Shopper Selling 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Regard Social Needs of Rural Seniors

An American Medical Association paper documents how older adults living in rural communities are at extra risk of social isolation. Buildings are often on large plots of land separated from each other, walking paths may be dirt or in need of repair, and public transit is frequently sparse. Although rural seniors report larger social networks than do urban seniors, the rural seniors can have greater difficulty visiting with their friends.
     The isolation generates health risks, says the AMA. Country cousins have higher illness and death rates than do city and suburban cousins. Rates of psychological maladies, up to and including suicide, are elevated. The physical and mental difficulties are attributable in part to rural communities having lower net income, educational opportunities, and density of helping professionals. Still, these are interrelated with the social isolation.
     At the same time, the results of the elevated isolation generate for retailers ongoing opportunities to augment their offerings in ways which benefit both these consumers and an organization’s bottom line. Infuse sales, provision, and repair services with socializing.
     The schmoozing should be more than idle chatter. It should be addressed toward understanding problems presented by the shopper and then helping to resolve those problems. Some problems are strictly logistical, such as, in a store, trouble reading labels in small print, fetching an item that’s out of reach, or getting a small enough size of the item. When visiting the senior’s home for installation or repairs, assess what frustrations they’re experiencing which you can ease with further instructions or with workarounds. What workarounds has the senior devised which you could suggest to others in a similar situation?
     Other problems facing the shopper, and by extension the retailer, might require sustained effort and referrals in order to remedy. As you’d do with all other customers, hand off the rural senior using care and caring. Follow up with an inquiry to check that the issue has been resolved.
     A related way in which retailers can address the problems of rural seniors’ social isolation is to monitor for difficulties and take action. This might be warning the senior’s family members, reporting to social service or health care agencies with the permission of the senior, or simply urging the senior to seek help. The AMA paper instructs physicians to monitor for the problems, but recognizes how contact with local retailers is more frequent. We are all best when in this together.

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Schmooze Away Problems for Seniors 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Place Attention on Biomorphic Design

Incorporating nature into your selling space portrays authenticity and reduces stress for both staff and shoppers. The technique also can add excitement when compatible with the retailing theme. Scheels and Bass Pro Shops showcase animals and landscapes.
     Researchers at Indian Institute of Management-Kozhikode and Amrita School of Business find that, regardless of the retailing or professional services theme, another benefit of a nature servicescape is restoration of attention. Concentration on what’s being offered to the consumer often flags in the busy marketplace.
     Nature’s restoration of consumer attention occurs subconsciously. The draw derives from our evolutionary roots. We are fascinated by and find a comforting rhythm in the changes we observe in the natural environment. Also comforting is the harmony with which the different elements of nature fit together.
     All this might convince you to sprinkle in a few live non-allergenic plants. Still, installing a waterfall, let’s say, could be over the top. Fortunately, the researchers also verify that using the shapes of nature in place of nature itself achieves the same types of benefits. This includes nature images, such as in framed photographs, posters, wood-textured walls, and sculptures. In all of these, however, we’ll want to regularly swap in new for old and even depict hints of change and growth, since this is how the natural environment behaves.
     Another set of validated techniques used the shapes of nature—curvilinear forms in décor, servicescape layout, and more. The researchers warn against sharp angles, saying that, because of our evolutionary history, these are usually perceived as threatening. Other studies, at University of Leeds, concluded that consumers are more likely to purchase a packaged item when the package is rounded rather than angular. They used chocolate products, bleach bottles, and water bottles in the studies. Because of how the experiments were conducted, the researchers say the preference differences between smooth and pointed can’t be accounted for by perceived ease of use of the package or the typical package design for that sort of product.
     There are exceptions to this. Would you prefer mayonnaise in a slender, angular jar or the same contents in a jar with a smooth bulbous shape? The angular jar probably wins out. Mayonnaise buyers like thinking slender more than bulbous.
     More generally, a complete absence of angles can position a servicescape as excessively female in tone. It’s in the nature of males to want a few sharp edges.

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Guide Shoppers on Store Tours 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Warm Up the Food to Comfort Diners

Most food items satisfy our hunger more if eaten hot than if eaten cold. We all know that, of course, including the researchers at Grenoble École de Management in France. What they measured was how, as a consequence of the greater sense of satisfaction, people are willing to pay you, on average, about 25% more per serving if the item is hot.
     The researchers also found that people consider heated items to be higher in calories than the same items when cold. This is caused by our subconscious strong association between eating pleasure and caloric count. The result of this effect is that people who place a high importance on health may not purchase as large a serving. By contrast, if the same item is served cold, people eat more of it, correcting for their perception that it’s less fattening. With this compensation, they’ll add an average of about 30% in caloric intake and almost 40% in fat.
     Although the studies were based in France, a culture which highly values the hedonic value of food, the participants were international, including from the U.S. The study conclusions appear to hold across cultures. However, nutritional information available for consideration at a conscious, rather than subconscious, level could be handled differently, depending on food culture.
     Researchers at University of Minnesota and France’s NEOMA Business School aroused national pride in a group of American and French consumers by showing them cultural symbols—the Statue of Liberty and bald eagle for the Americans, the Eiffel Tower and Gallic rooster for the French.
     All the study participants were then told about a fresh fruit mix and a piece of chocolate cake and asked to predict how much they’d enjoy each. For some of the participants from each culture, what they were told about both items included detailed nutritional information. The question was in what ways, if any, the nutritional information influenced the anticipated enjoyment of the items.
     The French consumers, with a heavy heritage of relishing the taste of food, were put off by being asked to process mundane details like health benefits or lack thereof. The predictions of enjoyment for both the fruit and the cake were significantly lower than among the French consumers not given the nutrition information. With the Americans, no real differences were seen between the two groups in predicted enjoyment.
     Attending closely to health benefits was, for the French, not cool.

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French Kiss Nutrition Notices Goodbye

Monday, February 1, 2021

Earn Trust by Supporting Sustainability

Retailers seen by the public as supporting green practices such as slow fashion can draw greater sales revenues than those not. However, the additional selling may come on items which do not themselves embody the features of slow fashion, including design intended for long-term use and production with minimal impact on the environment and workers’ rights. It could be the firm’s reputation rather than the item’s reality which garners the extra business.
     In studies based at Emerson College and Spain’s Ramon Llull University, American women who had purchased clothing from fast fashion retailers were asked to judge a fast fashion retailer they’d not heard of. Some of the participants were shown an ad which said this retailer was introducing a “sustainable collection” and listed characteristics of this collection associated with slow fashion. The ad shown to the other participants described, instead, the retailer’s offerings of accessories.
     Ratings for the fast fashion retailer selling sustainable items reflected greater trustworthiness, and there was a greater intention to consider purchasing from this retailer. The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 73 years, with an average of 35. The relationship between age and rating was not measured, but it might have made a difference. In another study of green practices, those participants aged 38 years and younger were more likely than those older to judge the green-practices retailer to be more trustworthy because of higher expertise.
     That research, from University of Toledo and Marquette University, showed a sample of American men and women one of two versions of an ad for headphones. One version described the headphones as made from sustainably sourced materials in facilities using only renewable energy. The other version spoke instead of the commitment of the manufacturer to superior sound quality. Trust in the company and intentions to buy items from the company because of their expertise were higher from the first group. There were no differences by gender, but the advantage of sustainability claims was especially pronounced among the younger adults.
     Although only part of a retailer’s product assortment needs to be sustainable in order to accrue the benefits, it doesn’t work to have only trivial modifications in an item. People turn against a retailer if they see that what’s offered is greenwashed, not true green. Also, to use sustainability as a marketing point, feature the information early. Otherwise, shoppers will place less value on the claims.

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Slow Fashion Up