Monday, May 29, 2023

Greet Ways to Disappear Greed

If your shoppers consider you greedy, that’s bad. Researchers at University of Queensland, Universiti Teknologi Brunei, Jyväskylä University, and La Trobe University cite prior studies showing how consumer perceptions of marketer greed disrupt profitability and organizational resilience.
     For their own study, the researchers defined greed as a state of being responsible for seeking more of a scarce resource than is needed and deserved when this behavior is to the relative disadvantage of others. Given this definition, any actions by a marketer which violate principles of equity or are insensitive to consumer need are more likely to be perceived by the consumers as greedy behavior. To avoid being considered greedy, treat your shoppers with fairness and sensitivity.
     Is there more? In the study, participants were asked to assess greediness in scenarios describing hidden fees, use of substandard construction materials, inconsiderate rent increases, and unfair competition. From the study findings, three other factors in judgments of greed included: 
  • Underdog effect. People perceive a big firm as greedier than a small firm given the same intentional behaviors by a marketer. As a marketing organization grows in influence because of its strategic excellence, the organization’s leadership should stay sensitive to the fact that opportunistic behaviors once acceptable to stakeholders might no longer be accepted as legitimate. 
  • Black sheep effect. It’s in our nature to classify relationships into ingroup and outgroup. An ingroup marketer—for example, a local company as contrasted with a foreign company—which is responsible for acting inequitably or insensitively toward members of its own community is perceived as greedier than an outgroup marketer—in this comparison, a foreign company— behaving similarly toward members of its respective community. Many marketers make a case for buying local and strive to position themselves as a part of the communities in which they function. Remember that along with gains from these initiatives are the additional responsibilities of avoiding actions associated with greediness. 
  • Common-is-moral effect. People perceive a company which operates in a context where greedy behaviors are rare as greedier than a company operating in a context where greedy behaviors are common. Marketers may be able to succeed despite some exploitive behavior when the marketer operates in business or cultural environments where greed is almost expected. This relates to the view that greed is the motivating force for capitalism in developing economies and, like the ingroup-outgroup classification, is an integral part of human nature.

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Risk Underdog Appeal When Risk is Low 

Monday, May 22, 2023

Prioritize Private Complainers

All customer complaints deserve your response. Yet researchers at Grenoble École de Management, University College Dublin, and HEC Montréal recommend you reply differently depending on whether the complaint was registered privately—such as by an email or phone call directly to your organization—or publicly—such as via social media, a website, or a blog, where there is a large audience.
     The study results indicate service recovery efforts are substantially more effective in easing negative feelings among private than among public complainers. The researchers relate this to prevailing motivations in the two categories: Private complainers focus on receiving an apology and compensation. Public complainers focus on alerting other consumers to the dangers of copying their transaction. They aim to restore their sense of justice by tarnishing the reputation of the purchased item or the supplier. For public complainers, a recovery from the service shortfall is of less importance.
     An exception to this is if the public complaint fails to receive numerous likes, forwards, replies, or other evidence of widespread attention. You’ll probably become aware of public complaints by monitoring online channels for mentions of your offerings. Along with that, notice available metrics which indicate the popularity of the post.
     Because there might be a broad audience for public complainers, you’ll want to show some attention. But since the benefits to you are likely to be limited, consider restricting this to apologies via public channels and perhaps partial refunds.
     With private complainers, the expense of a more comprehensive response is justified. In addition to the apology and partial or full refund, this could include a promise to avoid the problem in the future and a follow-up contact to check that the customer is satisfied.
     However, never allow the remedies for the private complainer to become extortion. Researchers at North Dakota State University found that complaining customers who make unreasonable demands have a combination of two characteristics: 
  • Throughout the purchase and complaint, they behave as though they suspect the retailer wants to take advantage of them. They’re guarded. They feel justified in shading the truth or stating outright falsehoods. 
  •  They find enjoyment in dominating the retailer. Rather than wanting to achieve a gain without attention to any loss for the retailer, the opportunistic claimants want to be sure the retailer loses so that the complainer’s win is greater by comparison.
     It’s best to break off the relationship with such a complainer.

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Multiply Recovery from Double Deviation 

Monday, May 15, 2023

Meter Negative Information to Older Adults

When making purchase decisions, an elderly adult seeks less information than would the salesperson if making a similar purchase. This is true on average because the salesperson is probably younger than the elderly adult and a Cornell University study verifies that advanced age leads to an intentional effort to limit the amount of data gathered for decision making.
     Study participants were presented decision scenarios considered by the experimenters particularly likely to stimulate information avoidance, with information avoidance predicted to be more pronounced in older adults. One major hypothesized reason was that the information would cue negative emotions. Older adults generally have a positivity bias in which they subconsciously and purposefully avoid the negative. For instance, one scenario used a café menu, with the information at issue being calorie counts for the items. Another scenario involved selecting a wooden office desk, with the information at issue being in a brochure about global deforestation.
     The older adult participants ranged in age from 66 to 89 years, with the average about 72 years. Results for information avoidance were compared to those from participants who were young adults (average age about 29 years) and middle-aged adults (average age about 49 years).
     As predicted, older adults were more likely than young or middle-aged adults to choose not to know the potentially disconcerting information. Avoiding the information was associated with a participant having reported on a survey that the information would make them feel bad or limit their enjoyment.
     These findings indicate that marketers could, based on good intentions, spontaneously share with an elderly shopper more information than the shopper comfortably desires. This is more likely when the information could trigger negative emotions, leading to willful ignorance. The marketer might assume that the older adult needs to know the information in order to have informed consent and might, because of cognitive or perceptual limitations, not seek it out.
     Ethical marketers are therefore wise to select carefully what information is most important for a older consumer to know, share that information first, then provide ample time for the consumer to consider it and ask further questions. Along with this, present the gist before digging into the details.
     Considering that shoppers of all ages frequently feel rushed, this strategy might be good for all selling. Still, younger shoppers are more likely to welcome an overabundance of information in order to persuade themselves they’ve done their due diligence.

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Shortcut Giving Too Much Information 

Monday, May 8, 2023

Jazz Up Selling by Serving Java

The pleasant energetic arousal which caffeine generates will lead shoppers who drink a strong cup of coffee to become more likely to spend money on impulse purchases. A collaboration of researchers at University of South Florida, University of the Basque Country, European University Viadrina, Louisiana State University, SKEMA Business School, Deutsche Payment, and NEOMA Business School saw evidence of this in their studies with consumers from America, France, and Spain.
     The effect is strongest for hedonic purchases—those made to provide pleasure during use as distinguished from utilitarian purchases made primarily to accomplish a task.
     Some retail outlets include coffee bars to draw in people who would otherwise shop online. In your initiatives to increase impulse purchases, consider offering coffee to shoppers and encouraging them to start their visit by taking you up on your offer. Further, the insight from this research about the effects of caffeine might be of use in encouraging online impulse purchases. You could include a note on the website reading something like, “Get yourself a strong cup of coffee, sit down, and look through all the items we offer.”
     Keep in mind how it’s the jolt of caffeine which stimulates purchasing. Caffeine also can be ingested via certain teas, sodas, energy drinks, and chocolate. Shoppers using those would also be expected to show the effect. On the other hand, lots of people choose to use decaf coffee or to add syrups, sauces, or ice to the brew, which can dilute the caffeine potency.
     With lonely shoppers, a hot cup of coffee or tea increases purchase potential in another way: Whenever shoppers experience rejection or loneliness, they’re ready to buy physical warmth. They feel cooler than do people who aren’t lonely. But if you’re somehow thinking of serving shoppers a hot Thanksgiving dinner before they start shopping, think again. University of Utah studies indicate that people who consume a carbohydrate-rich traditional Thanksgiving meal became less likely to spend big at Black Friday sales. Carbohydrates generally increase serotonin levels in the brain, and serotonin levels stifle the urge to impulsively purchase hedonic items. High serotonin levels also increase a consumer’s willingness to settle for the adequate over the ideal.
     You’ve limited control over the brain serotonin levels of your shoppers. Age, physical exercise, sunshine exposure, and psychological stress play into it. But you might be wise to avoid serving carbohydrate-rich entrees at your in-store coffee bar.

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Impede Hangovers from Impulse Buying 

Monday, May 1, 2023

Volunteer Recommendations of Combinations

When I shop at a florist for a bouquet, I expect to pay more than if I bought the same flowers at a plant nursery and paraphernalia at a crafts shop and then put the bouquet together myself. I’m paying for the expertise of the shopkeeper in knowing what fits well and how best to arrange it.
     Studies at Texas Christian University and University of Washington suggest that combinatory advice of this type not only enhances the value of the combination, but also enhances the value of the salesperson. Persuasion agents who volunteer advice about what goes well with what else establish greater credibility. Advice about what additional items would clash with a prior choice also has this effect.
     It is in the act of recommendation that the persuasion agent gains greater influence when giving subsequent advice, whether that subsequent advice is about product combinations or individual items. However, the perception of expertise has more to do with the depth of the advisor’s knowledge than with the breadth of that knowledge.
     The effect is reduced when the components are separated further in space—a shirt paired with socks compared to a shirt paired with a tie—or time—food items to be served on separate plates during the meal rather than on the same plate.
     The value of combinatory advice applies beyond face-to-face in-store selling. A social media influencer could benefit both the vendors who pay them as well as their own reputations by volunteering such recommendations.
     Also, the appeal to shoppers of item bundles applies beyond the provision of combinatory advice. Researchers at University of Minnesota began their inquiry by noting how a woman buying corn chips often looks next for salsa bottles. The researchers then went on to find that when the chips and salsa carry the same brand name, the woman will enjoy the items more than when the items carry different brands.
     Evidence from the studies showed how the greater enjoyment occurs because matching brand labels indicate to shoppers that the products were specifically designed and tested to work well together. This may, in reality, be the case. Maybe the corn chips are flavored delicately so as not to interfere with the zing of the salsa, and the chips don’t wilt when this brand of salsa is slathered on. Noting the synergy on the labels of each product will enhance this perception and, consequently, sales.

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Reveal the Whole Kit, If Not the Caboodle