Monday, June 26, 2023

Restrict Discount Offers to After Restrictions

You offer shoppers a special bargain. That’s the good news for them. But there are the conditions: “When you buy three.” “On select items.” “For today only.” That’s the bad news, telling the shoppers they don’t qualify for the discount or how in some other way they’re not fully in control. Maybe the notice is boldly announced, such as with large type at the bottom of an ad, in a way intended to stimulate shoppers to buy now. Maybe the announcement is in small type, tucked away with the intent not to distract from the good news.
     But it does distract, say researchers from Baylor University, New York University, and University of Pittsburgh. They suggest that to maintain the shopper’s purchase intention, you lead with the bad news. “For today only, when you buy three items, 25% discount on the usual price.”
     A main reason is that the bad-good order provides the shopper a greater sense of control in the face of hurdles. Other research shows people generally prefer to deliver good news before bad news. But people like to receive bad news first and finish off with the good news. Related to this, the discount offer maintains higher salience using the bad news-good news sequence because of its logical if/then flow (if I qualify for the offer, then I get…).
     Salience through proper sequencing also applies to stacked discounting, where a retailer piles a second price break onto a first. The ecommerce shopper might see the first discount while browsing through the pages, then a popup reading, “For new customers, an additional 25% off!” Or a consumer might have seen an ad for the 20% discounted price last week and today sees the updated offering.
     If the shopper encounters both discounts simultaneously, the first percentage discount the shopper notices assumes an outsized role. If we’ve designed the announcement so we can predict which will be seen first, make that first discount the larger of the two. If we don’t know which will be seen first, it doesn’t matter which of the two discounts is larger.
     With sequential presentation, in which the second discount comes as a surprise to the consumer, it works differently. The second discount has more influence than the first in the shopper’s perception of how good a deal they’re getting. In this situation, it’s best if the second percentage is the larger of the two. 

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Monday, June 19, 2023

Extend Discount Eligibility Limits

Pacific Ace Hardware in my hometown regularly sends out discount coupons like “$5 off your next purchase of $30 or more.” Each coupon carries a date range for redemption. I’ve found that if I go into the store a few days after the expiration date and ask to use one of those coupons, the store staff never say no.
     My reaction is a mix of believing that I’m getting away with something and appreciating the flexibility of the retailer. At some level, I realize they surely extend that same allowance to anybody who asks and that the store is pleased to have me spend my $30 or more in order to get the $5 credit. Yet none of that gets in the way of me considering myself a winner. It’s as if I appreciate the discount more than if I’d used the coupon during the official interval.
     Results from a group of researchers at Grenoble École de Management, Baruch College, The Pennsylvania State University, and Towson University indicate my reactions are perfectly typical. In their studies, consumers who thought they’d missed out on a discount and then found they were eligible were more likely to feel special, to consider themselves as getting greater value from the discount, and to be willing to purchase the item than did those people who knew their eligibility from the start.
     Another approach to this situation is to figure that if people miss a chance to buy merchandise you offer at a discount, you’d like them to feel sorry about it. That way, they’ll stay alert for the next time you announce a sales event. You hold sales to draw traffic into your store so shoppers will buy not only the substantially discounted merchandise, but also the items you’re selling at higher profit margins. You want everybody to notice when there’s a big sale.
     Unfortunately, though, many shoppers who miss a big sale will experience regret in a way which leads them to dislike the retailer and criticize the merchandise. Maybe it’s because people blame the retailer for what was their own fault. Maybe it’s because people want to avoid reminders of the opportunity they missed. In the studies, a group of participants who expected to get the discount and then were told they wouldn’t were less likely to want to buy the item than were those who hadn’t expected a discount at all. 

Monday, June 12, 2023

Humanize Diseases to Build Preventive Care

Successfully improving the frequency with which patients comply with important recommendations from health care professionals requires concerted efforts. Educating the patients can help, especially when the emotion of fear is incorporated into the teaching. People become more likely to comply with measures to prevent a particular disease when they come to fear they are vulnerable to the disease. The fear also serves as a counterweight to overconfidence in making one’s own health care decisions, which has been found to be a danger of patient education.
     Researchers at Zhejiang University, Northwestern University, and University of Chicago increased the perception of vulnerability by anthropomorphizing the disease. Anthropomorphized items have human-like characteristics. This might come from how the item looks, in a picture or name of a person on the packaging, or in the way an advertisement or the persuasion agent describes the item. Techniques used in the disease-anthropomorphizing studies included referring to a disease as “Mr. Coronavirus," not just “Coronavirus” and having the disease talk about itself (“I am breast cancer” instead of “We want you to know about breast cancer”) in the multi-paragraph messages.
     Those people reading the anthropomorphized messages were more likely to express interest in taking preventive health care measures.
     The anthropomorphism was less effective in building preventive health care compliance when a consumer already felt close to a risk factor for the disease or felt otherwise highly vulnerable to the disease. For others, anthropomorphizing could help ease the complex challenges of preventive health care compliance.
     This technique uses anthropomorphism to make an item fearsome to the consumer. More often, marketers anthropomorphize an item to enhance its friendliness. For example, researchers at Northwestern University, University of Cologne, and South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University found that a properly anthropomorphized item gains the persuasiveness of a human salesperson. This decreases the shopper’s feelings of responsibility for purchasing the item. They can blame the item for them giving in, just as they would blame a compelling sales pitch: “I couldn’t help myself.”
     The researchers say there must be a desire for the item in the first place. The tactic does not, in itself, stimulate the desire. Still, the desire need be only sufficiently large to motivate purchase when the self-control resistance is diluted. Related to this, the researchers urge us to use the tactic ethically. In reporting their findings, they specifically expressed clear concerns about misapplications of anthropomorphism in public health initiatives.

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Back Off for Better Adherence 

Monday, June 5, 2023

Thicken Power Portrayal via Logo Thickness

Characteristics of a brand logo project brand characteristics to consumers. An example from Brock University and Chiang Mai University researchers is how thickness in the visual elements of a logo suggests greater power of the brand. Because exposure to the logo generally accompanies introduction of a brand to prospective purchasers, the marketer’s awareness of logo line thickness effects is useful. At the other end of the product familiarity dimension, recognize how updating a logo in ways which change the thickness of elements might upset highly dedicated customers.
     We might assume that consumers most influenced by thick-lined logos are people feeling high in personal power, since consumers favor brands which reflect their personalities. However, it was people who felt low personal power who showed a stronger boost in brand preference when the thickness was bulked up.
     Researchers at Florida State University, University of Oregon, and University of Miami found that a consumer experiencing a particular type of low power—a feeling of having limited control of a situation—became more likely to purchase an item when encountering a logo with thickness in a particular part—the border. Shoppers in the studies expressed a higher willingness to complete a risky purchase if the product logo looked protected. With low-risk purchases, a thick border on the logo did not help. It depressed purchase intentions. Shoppers not suffering a control deficit subconsciously feel confined by the protected logo and so turn away.
     Perceptions of logo power also depend on the logo’s position. Researchers at Sun Yat-sen University, National University of Singapore, and Chinese University of Hong Kong designed ads in which a logo was positioned in one of two places in relation to the image of a customer. For some of the ads, the two images were at the same horizontal level and close together. This arrangement received the most positive evaluations when the brand was being promoted as a friend to the shopper. For the other ads, the logo appeared at a distance above the customer image in the ad. This arrangement worked best when the brand was being promoted as offering leadership to the shopper.
     The positioning of the logo, and perhaps the thickness of the logo lines, can affect not only how you make the sale, but also what consumers will do when they don’t like your logo. Will they inform you as a friend or as challenging your leadership?

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Let Go of the Unprofitable Logo