Monday, March 27, 2023

Cinch Understanding of CINCS

The order in which items are presented influences a person’s decisions. Researchers at Washington State University and University of Kentucky saw evidence of that principle in what they call the “cumulative impact neglect of changes that are sequential.” CINCS can lead to shoppers selecting alternatives which are to their economic disadvantage. Pointing out such situations to your customers provides an opportunity to earn their goodwill. If the misleading plan had come from another retailer, pointing it out might enable you to get that sale.
     In one of the research studies, participants were asked to choose between a pair of hotel pricing plans. Plan A charged $1,000 for the first night, $700 for the second, and $600 for the third and fourth. Plan B charged $1,000 for the first two nights, $750 for night three, and $250 for night four.
     Plan A, with a total cost of $2,900, is an economically better choice than Plan B, with a total cost of $3,000. Yet those participants for whom the discounts were described as cumulative (“Third day, you pay an even lower rate; you get an extra $100 off the already reduced rate”) became more likely to choose the inferior Plan B compared to the choices of those participants for whom the discounts were described as just the amount (“Third day, you pay an even lower rate; you get a rate of $600/day”). This was true whether the discounts for successive nights were described as absolute dollar amounts ($100 off) or as percentages (14% off).
      An explanation for the effect is that consumers pay undue attention to the trend of discounts. For Plan B, the discount for the fourth day was $500 more than it had been for the third day. For Plan A, the discount for the fourth day was the same as the discount for the third day.
     Prior to being presented the task, each participant’s skill in working with numbers had been assessed. Analysis of the results indicated that those with greater numeracy skill were more likely to choose the less costly plan. But for the whole set of studies, numeracy had little influence on the choices compared to the influence of the CINCS effect. Another of the studies showed how a verbal nudge to attend to the total costs and benefits was enough to lessen CINCS. Use a nudge to cinch shopper understanding when you suspect CINCS is present.

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Stack Discounts for Thrust or Surprise 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Sacralize to Persuade

Sacred nonreligious items and ideas are valued in ways resembling the valuing of religious artifacts and beliefs. The consumer considers sacred items to have power beyond the ordinary. This increases the attractiveness of the items and ideas to consumers. Based on their review of past studies, Robert Schindler at Rutgers University and Elizabeth Minton at University of Wyoming describe a set of properties characterizing sacred items and then employ this characterization to suggest ways sacralizing can be used as a marketing technique.
     Among these are: 
  • Sacredness reveals itself to the consumer rather than being enforced by the marketer. My example is how American Girl dolls come with a belly band which the purchaser must cut to remove the doll from the packaging. 
  • Maintain secrets about recipes, components, and production processes. Coca-Cola zealously guards the details of its recipe and includes in a plant tour a view of the vault in which the recipe is kept. 
  • Associate the product or experience with endorsers who carry charisma and with compelling stories of the founder and of item development. The J. Peterman Company, with its tag line “Traveling the world to find uncommonly good stuff,” was so compelling, it inspired a continuing story line on “Seinfeld.” 
  • To the degree possible, present the item or idea with distinctive packaging via providers who wear distinctive uniforms and in stylized servicescapes. Starbucks shops present a servicescape which harmonizes relaxing illumination, comfortable seating, and aromas of ground coffee beans. 
  • Suggest, and perhaps enforce, rituals for how the item is consumed. Best is when these rituals require some effort or other sacrifice by the consumer and when the rituals are respected by groups who advocate for the item or idea. Posted at some Starbucks shops is the motto “Take comfort in rituals.” Learning the Starbucks naming conventions, such as calling a small beverage “tall,” requires an effort and, once accomplished, helps the consumer feel part of a select group.
     Prior studies verify the persuasiveness of self-discovery, mystery, sacrifice, and brand communities. What this Rutgers/Wyoming work contributes is the idea that the component techniques can operate synergistically.
     Further, in my email exchange with Prof. Schindler, he wrote, “Efforts toward sacralizing one’s brand should start with offering something that consumers like or, more ideally, something that consumers find unexpectedly satisfying or pleasurable. The properties of sacredness can then be used to further develop these positive feelings toward the brand.”

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Unwrap Purchase Alternatives Seductively 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Embody Right-Left in Body Selling

We’d all be aghast at news of somebody selling their kidney because they need the money to feed their family. Donating a kidney charitably is honorable, but selling a kidney under duress is horrific. What about somebody getting paid to donate blood plasma? Is that morally wrong? What about leasing out your body to carry someone else’s baby to term as a surrogate? Renting out your body for sex?
     The researchers at Virginia Tech and Cornell University weren’t aiming to answer each of those questions as to what is right or wrong. Instead, they explored what influences a person’s opinion of such economic trade of human body parts, and specifically the role of a liberal versus conservative mindset.
     Their inquiry indicated that arguments about potential exploitation of sellers are most influential with liberals in opposing sales of bodies, body parts, and body products. Arguments about corrupting the sanctity of the body are most influential with conservatives. In one of the studies, a group of people identifying themselves as liberals expressed higher willingness to oppose legalizing prostitution after reading, “Prostitution is extremely harmful and coercive to women and children.… Don't legalize prostitution” than did a group of self-identified liberals who read, “Placing a monetary value on the body violates the inherent sanctity of the human body.… Don't legalize prostitution.” For self-identified conservatives, the second phrasing drew higher willingness to oppose prostitution than did the first.
     In another study, participants were asked how much money they’d contribute to Resolve, a real nonprofit which advocates for surrogacy. Of the two appeals designed to assuage concerns, “regulations will ensure that the surrogates receive fair compensation, access to healthcare, and access to legal support” worked better with liberals; “surrogacy will allow more couples to experience the joys of birth and celebrate the sanctity of human life” worked better with conservatives. Additional studies supported the influence of liberal-conservative orientation with judgments of selling blood plasma or a kidney.
     Political scientists at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Rice University say that liberals tend to be physiologically different from conservatives. Liberals have relatively more gray matter in parts of the brain associated with impulse control, while conservatives have relatively more gray matter in parts associated with intense emotional experiences. These are overall tendencies, not true of every individual consumer. Still, having in mind the different brain parts can be useful in persuasion about issues of selling body parts.

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Discuss Disgust Conservatively & Liberally 

Monday, March 6, 2023

Wall Off Theft with Conversation Control

When a group of strangers are in a shopper’s vicinity, chances the shopper will steal merchandise increase.
     This counterintuitive conclusion has to do with socializing and privacy. Researchers at The University of Alabama and The University of Toledo note that when there are a number of people in the same area, they’ll usually be talking among themselves. This wall of conversation provides a nearby shopper with feelings of privacy, the researchers find, and when a shopper feels privacy, they become more likely to take forbidden actions, including shoplifting, if they are otherwise so inclined.
     The inclination to shoplift grows with items a shopper considers embarrassing to purchase, such as foot deodorant or anti-gas tablets. In the studies of the conversation-privacy-shoplifting link, genital lubricants were the product category considered. The link was found to be stronger regarding that category than for hand sanitizer.
     An insight from these findings is that assigning extra staff to mingle around products at risk of being shoplifted could actually increase theft rates. Because staff know each other, they’ll probably have conversations, adding to the wall of sound which produces the sense of privacy for the shoplifter.
     Another surprising finding is that the effect is stronger when an area is brightly lit. Retailers may raise lighting levels on the assumption that theft is easier for others to spot. However, bright lights increase attention to details in general, and this includes the shoplifter’s visual information about the presence of others talking. The theft might be easier to spot, but it’s also more likely to occur.
     With forbidden actions aside from shoplifting, the influence of lighting is usually in the opposite direction. In a study at four restaurant locations, researchers at University of South Florida, Portland State University, Cornell University, and Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group found that when the ambient lighting level was bright, 48% of the patrons selected a fried food, red meat, or other item considered relatively unhealthy. The percentage was 65% for a different set of patrons ordering with dimly-lit dining. College students were more likely to select the 100-calorie Oreo over the chocolate-covered Oreo and raisins over M&Ms when the lights were bright.
     The researchers’ explanation is that brighter lighting wakes us up, and fuller awareness leads to wiser choices. I see it as illumination of social risk—what others will think of us—and psychological risk—what we’ll think of ourselves.

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Counterbalance Embarrassing Purchases