Monday, November 28, 2022

Reinforce Seniors’ Responsible Forgetting

Since late room service qualifies for me as roughing it, I’m not the ideal study participant when asked to imagine going camping. UCLA researchers conducted such a study in exploring how older adults accommodate their memory deficits.
     Groups of younger and older adults were presented a list of items to bring on a camping trip and told which of the items were their responsibility to bring and which were the responsibility of a friend. Each item name was presented in turn on a screen for three seconds followed by, for two seconds, the cue as to whether the participant or the friend was responsible for bringing the item.
     As expected, participants considered items they were to remember as more important than items the friend was to remember, and the older adults later remembered fewer of the item names than did the younger adults.
     Both age groups remembered more of the names of the items they were responsible for bringing. The researchers call this strategy responsible forgetting. The researchers cite prior research which indicates that forgetting of unimportant information enhances memory for important information.
     Importance influenced the use of responsible forgetting to a greater extent than did whether the individual or their friend had responsibility for bringing the item. The researchers attribute this to two related factors: First, the participants may have had experiences of friends who are responsible for remembering essential items, such as water on a camping trip, ending up forgetting. Second, if the item was central to the individual’s comfort, such as their favorite type of pillow, they might choose to refrain from delegating responsibility.
     Participants were instructed not to write down the words to remember. The study has implications for when seniors are presented information quickly without the opportunity for review. In those situations, reinforce responsible forgetting by stating when an item is important to remember. In the marketplace situation, also encourage people to write down the important items, or give them a list of the important items.
     Psychologist Shepherd Ivory Franz, who studied brain plasticity and flexibility, testified to the value of memory aids. Professor Franz was also an amateur ichthyologist who complained that each time he learned the name of another fish, he forgot the name of a fish he’d previously known. This may not have been literally true, but it does seem that for ichthyologists, a list of fish names would be handy.

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List Ways to Map Clarity for Senior Shoppers 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Know What’s Unknown About Senior Shoppers

Successful marketers navigate without definitive information. To wait until everything is certain makes us too late in profiting from opportunities. Still, let’s take into account the degree of certainty of the information we do have.
     Stockholm School of Economics experts apply this to marketing to the elderly. They opine on what needs further research. Here are the main areas, along with my comments about them:
     We’re uncertain about how aging affects brand loyalty. Much past research indicated that seniors stick with the brands they know to a greater extent than do younger adults. The implication for marketers was to devote greater attention to acquiring new customers in the elderly demographic than to keeping the ones you have. But this loyalty might derive largely from convenience. People become less mobile with advanced age. The universal availability of ecommerce could change the calculus. We might need to shift the balance toward continual maintenance of brand loyalty.
     What are all the ways aging develops consumption wisdom? Most past research about elderly consumers articulates their perceptual and cognitive senescence. However, by virtue of having been around the block so many more times and around so many more blocks than their younger counterparts, odds are they’ve seen, been cheated by, and learned to spot more false advertising posted on storefronts along those blocks.
     At a most basic level, what are the most useful ways to characterize age in the elderly consumer segment? This has most often been done by chronological age—the number of years since birth. But current research indicates it’s more useful to marketers to consider subjective age—how old consumers feel themselves to be. Often, subjective age correlates more closely with purchase intentions than does chronological age.
     A related way to characterize age is as the person’s perception of the amount of time until they’ll be unable to participate in the consumer marketplace, such as because of death or severe disability. This is useful for marketers to know because it probably influences the consumption timespan the shopper has in mind when making decisions about purchases, donations, health care measures, and even who and what to vote for in elections.
     A possible complicating factor here is the evidence of generativity—the elderly adult’s interest in leaving a legacy and assisting the next generation. It might be that as an individual senses death creeping close, their interest in planning for the far future increases rather than decreases.

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Fire with Small Steps Before Aiming 

Monday, November 21, 2022

Present Dynamic Pricing Transparency

Dynamic pricing is a system in which the marketer moves the price for an identical item up and down frequently in response to factors such as the availability of the item, what competitors are charging, or customer characteristics. When done properly, dynamic pricing increases a marketer’s profitability directly, by charging close to the maximum shoppers are willing to pay, and indirectly, by coming closer to optimizing the supply/demand balance.
     But if done improperly, dynamic pricing irritates shoppers. Researchers at University of Passau find that presenting an ecommerce dynamic price in terms of a high discount from a reference price reduces the irritation. The common objections to dynamic pricing from consumers are that the pricing policies lack transparency and charging some customers more than others is unfair. The method analyzed by the researchers addresses the objections. In their studies, it increased purchase intentions for the dynamically priced item.
     The displayed discount should be at least 10%, recommend the researchers. When it’s less than this and shoppers become aware that the item’s price changes frequently, they perceive the dynamic pricing practice as unfair and they’ll be more likely to defer the purchase, thinking a better deal is on the horizon.
     Transparency about the marketer’s use of dynamic pricing is also important. In the studies, when the procedures involved the consumer participants discovering the policies and procedures of variation in prices on their own, this aggravated negative reactions, on average.
     Shoppers are more receptive to dynamic pricing when done with attention to their individual characteristics. This customized pricing requires the marketer to gather information about the shopper, and this means overcoming shopper resistances to sharing the information. Tell them how the sharing benefits them. Describe how you’ll use the information and summarize your privacy protections.
     Knowing the shopper well might allow you to analyze their attachment style, and this plays into acceptance of dynamic pricing. Attachment style refers to how accepting and supportive the shopper believes others are toward them. Those who are confident others will be available whenever needed have a secure attachment style. In the research, words that characterized them included wanted, welcomed, liked, and cherished. People who worry about the stability of relationships with significant others have an anxious attachment style. Words used to characterize them included abandoned, neglected, disregarded, forsaken, disconnected, and let down.
     People with a secure attachment style tend to view customized pricing favorably.

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Influence with Trustworthy Scarcity 


Friday, November 18, 2022

Harvest the Joy of Selling Your Creativity

The joy from completing a sale may not in itself compensate for insufficient remuneration. Still, that joy is a payoff, as explored with a set of studies from Technical University of Munich, University of Vienna, Ortec Finance, Erasmus University, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, and Cornell University.
     The circumstance analyzed in the research was people selling items they’d created themselves, such as arts and crafts marketed via Etsy. A successful sale confirms to the creator their competence as a producer, and this generates happiness. As anecdotal evidence for this effect, the researchers quote from an Etsy forum, “It’s so flattering when people choose to buy your creations,” and from their own interviews, “A sale… makes me feel as though my items are appreciated.”
     In the formal studies, sellers of handmade items reported experiencing greater happiness during times they were selling more of those items than when selling fewer. Making more money is likely to increase happiness. Also, when you sell more, this can lead to expectations of robust future sales. However, the explanation for more happiness from increased sales goes beyond those causes. Analysis of the data showed the relationship held even when accounting for the differences in sales revenues. That's because happiness is generated from recognition by others of the salesperson’s skills as a producer. Experiencing the competence from producing the item does bring happiness. Then there’s additional happiness derived from selling the creation.
     The effect was smaller when the salesperson was selling items created by others. Still, I believe the findings argue for salespeople and other marketers to personalize offerings to the extent that making the sale brings happiness by verifying the marketer’s creative skills.
     In all this, avoid giving to consumers the impression that the creativity you invested in your item makes you hesitant to part with it. Such an impression could kill sales. Also don’t make what you’re offering overly precious. Utah State University researchers noted how people seeking rental income often will describe their offering in ways which show how great care has been lavished on the item. The objective might be not only to portray the item as attractive, but also to discourage damage. Yet the researchers found that when people described high emotional attachment to the item, prospective renters became less likely to seal a deal, worrying they might sully a masterpiece highly beloved by the owner.

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Stay Humble When It Comes to Handcrafted 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Accommodate Culture with Low-Involvement

What’s the best language to use in your retail transactions when the majority language in your area is English and the language associated with the customer’s culture isn’t English? And does it make a difference if the frontline employee (FLE) appears to be the same ethnicity as the consumer?
     A shopper should be pleased with you taking the trouble to accommodate their language and ethnicity, considering it a sign of respect for the shopper’s culture. Yet studies of a nationwide sample of U.S. Hispanics which were conducted by researchers working at American University, Old Dominion University, and University of Prince Edward Island indicate the answer is more complex. The shopper’s degree of involvement in the transaction matters.
     The situation explored by the researchers was retail banking services offered to Hispanic consumers where the Spanish language and Hispanic culture are in the minority. Involvement in the transaction referred to the extent to which the consumer was expected to participate in the service encounter because of the relevance of the choices to the consumer’s values. We might expect cultural accommodation to make more of a difference with high involvement transactions because there’s deeper interaction between the marketer and the shopper.
     The researchers predicted the opposite, and then verified that hypothesis. The high involvement transaction used in the studies was arranging for a mortgage loan. The low involvement transaction was depositing a check.
     Study results indicated that use of Spanish by a frontline employee who looked Hispanic produced better consumer service ratings and future purchase intentions overall compared to when these accommodations were absent. And among the study participants given the scenario indicating the presence of the accommodations, the effect was stronger for the low-involvement than for the high-involvement transaction.
     The researchers’ explanation is that such accommodations make a difference, but are less important than considerations such as the terms of a mortgage loan. With the high involvement decision, the accommodations had only peripheral impact. With a routine transaction like depositing a check, the accommodations gained relative notice.
     Hiring FLEs based solely on matches with shopper ethnicities jeopardizes organizational success if the FLEs lack requisite competencies. Still, having across your FLEs the range of consumer ethnicities and language preferences represented in your shoppers is good business. The evidence is this is particularly true for low-involvement transactions—the type which might easily be the type where a new prospect tries out your organization.

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Speak to Shoppers’ Language Stereotypes 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Visualize Beyond Three Claims

As a rule, when a shopper perceives that a salesperson has persuasive intent, the optimal number of product claims by the salesperson is three. Up to three, the chance of convincing the shopper increases. Beyond three, the sales pitch quickly becomes less persuasive as consumer skepticism grows.
     Studies at Shanghai Jiaotong University, Purdue University, and University of Kentucky show how this “charm of three” also applies to benefits claims in ads. The researchers then identify a way to overcome the limitation to three benefits claims: Have the shopper imagine using the product. The mental imagery transports the shopper’s thoughts into a story, and this eases the skepticism.
     In the studies, the instruction used to encourage mental imagery was, “We do request that you utilize the power of your imagination. Let your imagination fly, and imagine you are using this product.” Study participants not asked to engage in mental imagery were instead told, “We do request that you be careful and well-reasoned…. Try to make a logical assessment of the product.”
     Along with this, the study participants were shown an advertising leaflet containing a photo of the item—a bottle of essential oil—and either one, three, or five benefits claims, and then were asked their degree of agreement with two questions: “The essential oil seems to be a better product than the current options in the marketplace,” and “This essential oil seems worth trying.”
     The “charm of three” effect would cause those people presented three claims to rate the product more favorably than would those presented either one or five claims. And this is what happened with the group of study participants encouraged to “make a logical assessment.” But for the group encouraged to “let your imagination fly,” the item favorability rating was higher with three claims than with one and higher with five claims than with three.
     Mental images of using an item—what consumer researchers call “consumption visions”—increase purchase likelihood. The current research indicates one way consumption visions do this is by allowing you to present a greater number of benefits without arousing skepticism. Researchers at National Chengchi University in Taiwan find that ads are more likely to produce consumption visions if they are for hedonic, pleasure-giving, products, such as shampoo, than for routine utilitarian products, such as dental floss. These researchers also suggest using vivid text in your product descriptions to stimulate the senses.

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Thread Success with Three Claims 

Monday, November 7, 2022

Excite Artwork Purchasers with Vibrant Colors

Attention to what you’re selling usually increases the amount shoppers are willing to pay, and intense opinions attract attention to what you’re selling. Up to a point. Beyond that tipping point, intensity repels attention. Interest is outweighed by discomfort at even thinking about the matter.
     Researchers at IESA Business School and EICEA-Universidad de La Sabana provide a specific example of that general principle in the art market. They saw how paintings by five prestigious Latin American artists which incorporated intense colors attracted higher prices at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions than did paintings by the same artists with more subdued colors.
     Up to a point. The plotted relationship between color intensity and fetched auction price was an upside-down U shape. If you’re an art dealer, you could graph the relationships for paintings you sell to identify about where the tipping point occurs and then use that in subsequent auction bids or pricing decisions.
     Because of the range of data collected about the 1,627 auction sales, the researchers were able to also identify other determinants of final bids for the paintings. The larger the canvas, the higher the average price. Paintings executed by the artists when they were younger tended to fetch higher prices then those executed by the same artists when they were older. Longer descriptions in the auction catalog, reports that the work had been shown at a museum or gallery, and a record of past ownership all served to increase prices offered.
     Other research shows the influence of color intensity on people’s willingness to pay for items beyond paintings. When shoppers are anxious to use a purchase soon, they’ll consider items with saturated colors to be a better value for the money. The reason, according to studies at Boston College, is that vibrancy makes items look larger, which in turn is due to how saturated colors grab attention. Consumers who place a higher value on an item being larger will pay more when the item’s colors are saturated.
     To use this finding as a marketer, recognize that a color’s saturation refers to a property other than its hue. Red is a different hue than green or blue. Saturation refers to the purity or colorfulness of the hue. The attention-grabbing property of saturation may have evolutionary origins in that ripe fruits and venomous animals in nature tend to have more saturated colors than their surroundings.

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Convert Controversy to Retail Sales 

Friday, November 4, 2022

Age-Frame Labels for Senior Smart Homes

Children’s toys and games commonly carry labels indicating appropriate age ranges for item use. University of Zurich studies indicate that age-frame tagging would help for marketing to users at the other end of the life span.
     The researchers begin by noting the aging of the population, the desire of seniors to stay in their own homes, and the shortage of skilled people willing to provide home health care. Together, these create a potential market for smart home technologies, which incorporate sensors and trackers to monitor residents who have physical, sensory and/or cognitive impairments, then issue a call for help if needed.
     But sales of these devices have been far below what we’d expect, given the potential. The researchers propose that a major explanation for this is the complexity of a choice so central to survival and one often requiring notable financial expenditures. This impacts not only the seniors themselves, but also the younger relatives concerned with the seniors’ welfare. The involvement of the others in itself adds to the complexity, stress, and feelings of choice overload. A senior can feel their independence is threatened when younger relatives want to make important decisions for them.
     Compared to price-frame labels, age-frame labels were found to reduce the complexity and consequently increase probability of purchase of a smart home technology. Related to this, younger family members expressed less need to intervene in the senior’s smart home decisions made on the basis of age-frame labels.
     Price-frame tags used in the studies were in the format “Economy,” “Standard,” and “Premium.” Age-frame tags were in the format “Ideal up to 70 years,” “Ideal up to 75 years,” and “Ideal over 75 years.” An exception to the general finding of age-framing facilitating purchase intentions was with the very old. The researchers attribute this to a resistance to change accompanying advanced age.
     In 1846, Alexander Turney Stewart introduced a labeling innovation to American emporiums. Every item in his Marble Dry Goods Place on the east side of Broadway in New York City carried a price tag. Most other stores at that time expected customers to haggle with the merchant about the price. Stewart’s price tagging was so successful that by the late nineteenth century, it was almost universally used in store retailing.
     With growing attention toward marketing to seniors now, an innovation which proves to boost selling success to them can be age-frame labels.

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