Monday, March 28, 2022

Compare Cobras, Cobaias & Cosmetic Surgery

Concerned with the dangers posed by large numbers of cobras slithering around the countryside, British overlords in Colonial India said they’d pay a bounty for each cobra body submitted. The response from industrious Indians was to start raising the venomous reptiles to earn money. There were now more, not fewer, cobras. Realizing the program wasn’t working, the government discontinued it. The response of the entrepreneurs to this change was to release their stocks of snakes, since the animals were now worse than worthless. As the tale goes, the population of cobras ended up quite more abundant than it had been before the bounty offer.
     Unintended consequences. Among the component disciplines of consumer psychology is economics. When applying consumer psychology at the societal level, anticipate a full range of reactions, counterreactions, and tradeoffs arising from the dynamics of economics.
     Another example of the insights from such an analysis is seen when considering the use of cosmetic surgery in Brazil. Researchers at University of Macedonia and International University of Monaco report that most women in Brazil consider physical beauty as a requirement for successful life. This attitude is both a cause and an effect of the Brazilian government considering its citizens to have a “right to beauty.” Cosmetic surgery is low-cost or even free, thanks to government subsidies.
     But there have been some ugly outcomes. Because of the universal expectation of beauty and the removal of financial barriers, the surgery waiting list is long and many of the procedures are conducted by those still learning how. On the upside, new cosmetic surgery techniques are continually being developed in Brazil. Physicians worldwide travel there to learn. On the downside, the latest cosmetic surgery techniques might not be ready for prime-time exposure. A common term for the patients is “cobaias,” which translates to “guinea pigs.”
     Against this background of cosmetic surgery being expected, nay required, in Brazil, extensive beauty work is socially disapproved in certain other countries. Researchers at Murray State University and University of South Florida find evidence that the underlying reason is perceptions of compromised morality. This is another potential downside of cosmetic surgery, with economic implications if the perceptions affect employment prospects or effectiveness in persuading others. The researchers speculate that this disparagement of cosmetically-altered influencers is less likely if the influencers tell their targets of influence that the surgeries were done for self-expression, to reveal the influencer’s true identity.

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Beautify Persuasion Transactions 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Pattern Choices for Frightened Shoppers

When people’s security is threatened, they seek structure for the sense of control it offers. They’ll repeat patterns in their consumption activities. This was seen in studies by researchers at Peking University, Auckland University of Technology, University of Central Arkansas, Dongguk University, and Florida International University.
     In one of the experiments, a group of participants were asked to read an article titled “Can COVID-19 Damage the Brain?” To allow comparison with this high-threat group, the article assigned to another set of participants was “This One-Pan Meal Shows Just How Joyful Tofu Can Be.” All participants were then asked to assume they’d eaten six jellybeans in order from least-favorite flavor to favorite flavor and then asked to select between eating more jelly beans either in order from least- to most- favored or from most- to least- favored.
     Starting with the most-favored would seem to be objectively better, since you get your enjoyment sooner. But the high-threat group were more likely than the comparison group to select repeating the sequence of least- to most- favored. This finding supports the idea that frightened consumers will repeat a consumption pattern, even if that pattern is an inferior alternative.
     Another in the set of studies—this one involving the order of listening to favorite and not-so-favorite songs—found that the draw toward a repeated pattern when frightened is stronger among consumers whose childhood was spent in a less wealthy neighborhood. The researchers’ interpretation is that children in financially strained circumstances adopt uncertainty management strategies, including adherence to predictable patterns of consumption whenever possible.
     To earn shopper goodwill during periods when those shoppers are likely to feel frightened, make it easier to them to repeat patterns of consumption. Offer bundles of favorites. This doesn’t mean limiting the variety of choice or expecting consumers to limit the variety, though. If everything’s the same, there’s no opportunity to form a pattern.
     Pattern-seeking when we’re scared produces effects well beyond the order in which we eat jelly beans and listen to songs. We’ll not only establish patterns, but we’ll also see patterns when none exist. In the face of widespread social ambiguity—such as occurred early in the COVID-19 pandemic—we’d expect to find more conspiracy theories and information distortion, especially among people who grew up in financially insecure circumstances. It’s another uncertainty management strategy example, mobilized in this case as an effort to transform chaos into predictability.

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Border Shoppers’ Uncertainty 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Compensate for Discounts Dispiriting FLEs

Deep price discounts motivate shoppers to buy. But those same deep discounts, if used frequently by a store, demotivate the people who are making those sales. That is, unless management takes corrective action. The reason the frontline employees become dispirited, according to studies at Germany’s WHU, is that these people perceive frequent or deeply-discounted pricing as discounting the value of their work. There is then a tendency to pull back on the quality of their efforts to match what they perceive others as thinking their work is worth.
     Add to this how deep price discounts bring into a store increased numbers of shoppers who are highly price-sensitive. These people feel little reason to form with store staff relationships which enrich the job of selling. Keeping an eye on price, they’ll give their business to another store next time if it has a better discount. Or if they do return because they decide the store often has the best prices, they could join the salespeople themselves in deciding that deep discounts indicate weak frontline service. Consumers who are at a store primarily for a deep discount become more likely to treat employees shabbily.
     The suggested corrective actions consist of supervisors continually acknowledging the importance of their frontline employees’ conscientiousness and providing them ample opportunities to demonstrate their value. As part of this, the WHU researchers recommend that you inform employees about planned price promotions, explain the objectives, and encourage dialogue about how to improve future price promotion campaigns.
     You also could adapt for this purpose techniques found by researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and University of Hong Kong to be effective in curbing job burnout: 
  • Encourage feedback from customers. Use a positive frame like, “In what ways might we do even better?” rather than a negative frame like, “What do you dislike about our store?” 
  • Remind staff of the importance of the work they do. 
  • Rearrange job duties so people have new responsibilities. 
  • To the degree that you can, allow each staff member to serve the shopper throughout the purchase process. Empower employees to handle customer complaints.
     The last of these four has special importance. Studies at Ireland’s Waterford Institute of Technology find that a promise of on-the-job autonomy attracts new employees who will excel in customer-facing tasks. Having made that promise, you don’t want to risk losing their contribution to your profitability by allowing the corrosive impacts of price promotions.

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Sharpen Your Price Image 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Sell More with Self-Mockery

A Frenchman visiting New York City enters a McDonald’s restaurant in late afternoon. When he reaches the front of the long queue, he orders a glass of wine, knowing that the McDonald’s restaurants in his home country serve alcoholic beverages. The employee, having heard such a request before, replies, “Sir, in America, McDonald’s doesn’t include wine on the menu.” A look merging disappointment with puzzlement crosses the Frenchman’s face. “You mean, people come here for the hamburgers?”
     I’ve not heard of McDonald’s using that joke in their marketing campaigns. However, in a post discussing self-mockery by advertisers, Drummond Central Agency included the example of KFC promoting a tweet reading, “I’ve got to say, KFC are riding solely on their chicken because Christ, those are crap fries.”
     Another of the examples in the post is an ad campaign for the thoroughly bumpy Cadbury Picnic candy bar which uses the tag line “Deliciously Ugly.” That’s reminiscent of the 1960’s ad for the Volkswagen Beetle which proclaimed “Ugly is only skin deep.”
     Gentle humor can ease sales resistances, and self-mockery can humanize a brand in ways consumers find attractive. A study at IAE Paris explored this. Participants were exposed to a fictitious IKEA ad in which the brand made light of a consumer criticism the researchers had found to be common among IKEA shoppers.
     In some cases, the tag line read “Parce que nos meubles sont compliqués à monter, on ne s’est pas démonté pour les repenser,” which is French word play on “As the assembly of our furniture is complex, we did not back down from rethinking the situation.” Difficulty in assembling the furniture is considered to be a major dissatisfaction.
     In the other cases, the tag line read, “Parce que nos files d’attente sont trop longues, on ne s’est pas défilé pour les écourter,” word play on “As our waiting lines are too long, we did not run away from making them shorter.” This addressed what’s considered to be a less important dissatisfaction.
     For all, the text was followed by :), representing a smile. A companion study used complaints about McDonald’s—a strong complaint that the burgers are unhealthy and a weaker one that the burgers are too small.
     The overall finding from the studies was that self-mockery increases purchase intention, although only for a minor source of dissatisfaction and only for consumers who already have a strong brand attachment.

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Highlight Humility with Humor 

Monday, March 14, 2022

Lay Into Lying Driven by Moral Convictions

Much thinking in consumer psychology about deceiving people concerns product sales. At what point do lavish claims about item performance cross over from marketing enthusiasm into fraudulent exaggeration? When is it okay to withhold information about safety risks if the shopper doesn’t ask about them?
     Researchers at The University of Chicago and University of Pennsylvania were interested in deception within the marketplace of ideas. The dynamics of deception differ here because the deception is often motivated by a drive to uphold personal values important to the liar rather than the desire to make money.
     People like to see themselves as trustworthy. When lying in order to make more money or protect themselves from criticism, people aim to lie only as much as they feel is absolutely necessary. But a moral imperative to defend personal values can readily flood away such restraint. People will justify the deception as being in the service of a greater good, allowing misstatements to gain a greater breadth and intensity.
     Benevolence is an example of a moral motive seen among the studies reviewed by the researchers. We lie to help or to avoid harming others. Examples of this I’ve encountered include the diner with the slightly overcooked steak who tells the server that everything is perfect even though it’s not. A woman leaves her hairdresser the usual tip, although the woman is not at all comfortable with the unexpected new look.
     But deception driven by benevolence has an ugly side. The server, the chef, and the hairdresser have missed out on valuable information. In a Cornell University study, it was found that job supervisors pulled punches when providing feedback to women. This happened much less often with male employees. The explanation was that people believe women are less confident than men about their job performance. Supervisors want to encourage women to do well by overaccentuating the positives. Building confidence, not questioning competence. The problem is that the white lies deprive women employees of the constructive criticism they need in order to most quickly become superb performers.
     The Chicago/Pennsylvania researchers caution about other moral motives, such as lying to protect values of group loyalty or individual freedom, and about forms of deception aside from outright falsehoods, such as obfuscation.
     Let’s present our arguments ethically in the most persuasive ways. In doing this, let’s realize how deeply felt moral intentions might generate lies which cause destructive actions.

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Expose Puffery for All It’s Worth 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Highlight How High A Shopper’s Ready to Go

A shopper’s acknowledgment that they are less than they want to be allows you to sell solutions. But realize the shopper might not think themselves capable of eliminating the deficit. Researchers at Arizona State University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, and Columbia University analyzed studies showing the varying ways self-discrepancies drive consumer behavior. Among the ways: 
  • Direct resolution. If your prospect in fatter than they want to be, they might like to join a gym or purchase diet foods. Consumers who are dismayed that their intelligence is fading as they age could be interested in brain training activities. 
  • Symbolic self-completion. MBA students lacking objective indicators of business success such as multiple job offers were more likely to show off symbols of business success like expensive suits. The suits chosen by those considering themselves overweight could be designed to look slimming. 
  • Dissociation. This path diverts the shopper from audiences or contexts where the discrepancy will be apparent. A person who feels less financially savvy than desired is receptive to stopping a subscription to The Wall Street Journal and subscribing instead to USA Today
  • Escapism. A short-term version of Dissociation is to distract oneself from thinking about the perceived inadequacy, usually by engaging in an entertainment activity. For successful selling, the entertainment must avoid reminders of the discrepancy. If consumers feel themselves to be less socially adept than desired, escapism could consist of attending a show where single-ticket purchases are common. 
  • Fluid compensation. The consumer who is feeling inadequate in one realm strives to cultivate other skills they feel confident they possess. You can sell to these shoppers by identifying those areas in which they have both skills and interest
     The first two of these five lend themselves to easier interpretation of shopper needs. You can make those paths more likely by building the shopper’s self-esteem, which, in turn, encourages higher aspirations Flatter the shopper’s expertise.
     Don’t go too far, though. Abundant flattery, even if justified, can come across as phony or result in a backlash of shopper humility. In studies at University of Texas-Austin and Switzerland’s University of Bern, when consumers’ self-esteem became extraordinarily high, they turned toward aiming for the status quo.
     Self-efficacy operates differently, though. Self-esteem relates to a general impression, while self-efficacy concerns confidence about a specific skill. Persuade shoppers they are capable of achieving what you’re proposing. Accomplish this by selecting the right items for each transaction.

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Reap Loads from Solo 

Monday, March 7, 2022

Face Advantages of Face Scales in Surveys

The information you’ll gather from a survey questionnaire of consumers or employees depends on the quality of questions you ask and the representativeness of the respondents. It also depends on the nature of the response scale you use. Researchers at Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Pernambuco compared findings from four scale types: 
  • A four-point scale, with the points labeled “Not at all important,” “A little important,” “Important,” and “Very Important.” 
  • A seven-point scale with a “Not at all important” label at the left of the 1 and a “Very important” label at the right of the 7. 
  • A visual analogue scale consisting of a 100 mm horizontal line with a “Not at all important” label on the left of the line and a “Very important” label on the right of the line. 
  • A scale on which six response alternatives were illustrated with faces.
     The research participants were instructed to mark on each of the four scale types their judgment of importance of characteristics of pizza, such as “Is not expensive” and “Has a pleasant texture.” The participants were also asked to assess the four scale types they’d used.
     The face scale was judged overall as among the easiest to use and as the one which best allowed for expression of feelings. This study was limited to Brazilians, mostly college students, and one food item. Still, since ease of use and accuracy in portrayal of feelings are chief objectives of survey projects, consider the face scale format.
     Researchers at Erasmus University discovered another advantage of the face scale. Their advice is directed to situations where the consumers’ primary language is not English, but the questionnaire is being administered in English.
     These researchers’ reasoning is not what you might think. Sure, if respondents don’t read English well, it makes good sense to provide pictures with universally understood meanings. However, the researchers’ argument is that even when the survey respondents can comprehend English just fine, non-native speakers interpret emotion words differently. They tend to report more intense emotions when answering in a non-native language than when using their favored language.
     “Love” and “hate” don’t feel as strong in the second as in the primary tongue. It loses something in translation. Where the Spanish-speaker might say “disagree somewhat” on the Spanish-language version, they’ll say on the English-language version, “strongly disagree.” When a face scale is used instead, this distortion is reduced, providing more useful results.

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Correct for Language Preference on Surveys 

Friday, March 4, 2022

Serve Up Benefits Per Serving

Just finished a hot dog in a bun for lunch? Then you might want to know your span of healthy life is now 36 minutes shorter. Oh, did that revelation convince you to instead eat a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for lunch tomorrow? That’ll about balance out today by adding 33 minutes to your healthy life.
     These calculations by experts at University of Michigan and Nutrition Impact, LLC are far from definitive. Eating a bunch of healthy foods doesn’t really cancel out the effects of eating a bunch of harmful foods. Moreover, while eating your PB&J, you might get run over by a bus, abruptly cutting short the value of sophisticated calculations about any remaining healthy lifespan. Still, the calculations are quite sophisticated, taking into account fifteen dietary risk factors affecting U.S. adults at least age 25 for an average serving across 5,853 foods and beverages.
     This sophistication lends credibility to the statements about minutes lost or gained. And there’s evidence such a format would be substantially more persuasive with consumers than a general warning like, “If you want to live longer, eat healthier foods.” Thinking of a specific food and of living longer in specified minutes adds impact.
     The statements about specific food items will do a better job changing habits than would the researchers’ summary statement, “Substituting only 10% of daily caloric intake from beef and processed meat for fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and selected seafood could offer substantial health improvements of 48 minutes per person per day.” The specifics of one meal at a time or one day at a time are less daunting than an overall change in lifestyle. Sometimes, marketers aim for revolutionary change in a target of persuasion. But in most cases, habit change comes after a sequence of progressively intrusive nudges.
     Attend to the way in which you present risks and benefits. These food calculations do well with the unit being serving size. In other cases, statements about “per use,” “per day,” or “per liter” will work better. Attention to the unit of presentation also applies with prices. Researchers at London Business School and European School of Management and Technology analyzed successes marketers had from proper specification of benefit unit. Goodyear stated their premium tire’s price as cost per mile. Embrex sold poultry breeders disease inoculations by the egg. General Electric modified airline engine pricing to reflect “power by the hour.”

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Improve Weight Loss Diets by Adding Concrete