Monday, July 31, 2023

Dedicate Marketing to Dedicated Authenticity

With the burgeoning of deepfakes enabled by artificial intelligence and fashion knockoffs inspired by 3D printing, the distinctive value to consumers of a real deal grows greater. A University of Nevada-Reno study verified that people favor purchasing products from brands they view as authentic.
     Based on their experiments, the researchers suggest marketers feature a combination of two brand characteristics to establish shopper perceptions of authenticity: 
  • Congruity. Ensure that all marketing messages are consistent with what the brand represents. Considering a brand of sunglasses advertised for use on the beach, high congruity was established using text and images about sailing races and surfing plus a list of water-sport athletes as being sponsored by the brand. Another group of study participants were instead presented marketing messages concerning ski races and cross-country skiing plus sponsorship of a list of winter snow events. This second group judged this beach-focused sunglasses brand to be less authentic and, compared to the high-congruity group participants, were less likely to express interest in purchasing the brand. 
  • Intrinsic motivation. Describe how the people responsible for brand items are chiefly motivated by pride in quality. In the studies, high intrinsic motivation for a brand of chocolates—a hedonic item—was established with marketing text like, “We started making chocolates because of the enjoyment that we feel knowing that we are creating a delicious treat,” and low intrinsic motivation with text like, “We are committed to fulfilling consumer needs because we want to increase market share and reach new heights.” Study participants’ ratings of brand authenticity and actual choice of the brand were stronger when associated with high intrinsic motivation marketing. Data analysis indicated this was because the authentic brand was judged to be of higher quality. Parallel results were obtained when the product considered by study participants was a hand sanitizer—a utilitarian item.
     In my email exchange about the studies with Prof. Jessica Rixom, the principal researcher, she asked that I emphasize there is an interaction between congruity and motivation: “To be perceived as authentic, brands need to be seen as both congruent and intrinsically motivated. Congruity isn’t enough on its own (i.e., congruent but extrinsically motivated) and neither is an intrinsic motivation (i.e., intrinsic motivation but incongruent).”
     Along with projecting authenticity, don’t project inauthenticity. Inauthenticity is generated when the brand meaning shifts. This triggers suspicions of moral failings. As a consequence, consumers experience betrayal and express contempt.

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Distinguish Seniors’ Photo-Falsehood Training 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Float Former Poor Up Over a Sunk Cost Fallacy

Being raised poor affects an adult’s consumer habits in the face of uncertainty. In some cases, the behaviors are exactly what we’d expect: Such adults are more likely to stockpile items if possible, since they fear deprivation. The long-term poor often will give promotional discounts extra attention.
     In other cases, low childhood socioeconomic status exaggerates trends which are seen in all adults: For instance, when the security of a consumer of any age is threatened, their consumption habits move toward the repetitive. But this is especially true if the adult consumer was raised poor.
     In still other cases, the results may seem surprising: Individuals who have grown up in resource-scarce families are less interested as adults in health care insurance than are individuals who grew up with ample money. The researchers’ explanation is that people raised poor are accustomed to living with risk.
     Studies at University of Central Arkansas, Auckland University of Technology, Peking University, and Florida International University add to this list a propensity for the sunk cost fallacy, which refers to staying the course even when the course is unpromising. Here, the researchers’ explanation is that, on average, people with a history of low socioeconomic status consider loss of prior investments to be more wasteful than do their counterparts raised wealthy.
     The sunk cost fallacy is more common with group decision making. So are these two:
     Planning fallacy: Groups are worse than individuals in underestimating the time, money, and staff projects will take.
     Framing effects: Group members come to depend on each other to do the critical thinking, meaning that the critical thinking is inadequate. As a result, the manner in which the facts are framed makes too much of a difference. A group will be more likely to agree to a change if told it has a 90% chance of success than if told it has a 10% chance of failure.
     You’ll never want to discriminate against financially-strained shoppers or in other ways make conclusive judgments about their shopping habits without sufficient evidence. At worst, such discrimination becomes retail redlining, which occurs when disenfranchised groups of consumers systematically receive lower quality goods and/or are charged higher prices for equivalent merchandise than is true for other groups.
     Still, if you learn that an individual customer or family of customers was raised poor or is poor, be alert to how this can distort the wisdom of their current purchase decisions.

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Pattern Choices for Frightened Shoppers 

Monday, July 17, 2023

Conjure Up Courageous Robots to Inspire

Why are people more charitable after learning other humans have assisted in disaster relief than after learning the assistance was provided by robots? A set of studies at University of Macau and Stanford University provides evidence this is the case and attributes the difference to human help being more inspirational.
     The researchers then went on to identify two ways the public might be as inspired when robots carry out disaster relief tasks: Describe the robots as behaving more autonomously and/or describe the robots as facing high risk in achieving the results. The scenario used for this experiment was a Colorado wildfire described as “destroying nearly 1,000 homes and forcing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate” during which “firefighting robots worked for two days to control the blaze.”
     Those study participants assigned to consider the robots autonomous also read text similar to, “With a built-in chip, the firefighting robots are highly autonomous and self-directed such that they can analyze a situation independently and freely choose which specific task to take on when extinguishing a fire.”
     Those study participants assigned to consider the robots as exposed to high risk also read text similar to, “With a built-in chip, the firefighting robots are vulnerable to prolonged exposure to heat, such that the chip is at risk of burning up and the robot being permanently harmed.”
     People reading either or both of those additional paragraphs showed greater prosociality than did people not reading either.
     The researchers attribute this finding to the paragraphs conjuring up impressions of robotic courage and to courage in others inspiring our own socially conscious behavior. This explanation fits with the finding that people want to be able to easily tell whether the help they witness comes from a person or a robot, but once that’s done, they prefer an assistance-giving robot to resemble a human. This is particularly true regarding social intelligence of the robot, defined by researchers at University of Bristol and University of Bologna as the ability to perceive and mimic human emotions.
     This definition came from the researchers’ statistically-supported cataloging of robotic intelligence. Verbal-linguistic intelligence allows a robot to accurately interpret information provided by the consumer and respond in readily understandable ways. Logic-mathematical intelligence is required for the robot to solve complex problems. If the robot will be moving through space, visual-spatial intelligence is essential. Processing-speed intelligence allows the robot to promptly complete repetitive tasks.

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Creep Out Shoppers, But Explain 

Monday, July 10, 2023

Enlarge Fonts for Big or Little Discounts

Sometimes you might aim to maximize profit margins by offering only tiny promotional discounts. At other times, you might aim to clear out musty inventory with deep discounts. However, when a promotional price discount is quite small—such as only 10%--shoppers may consider it not worthy of notice. When quite large—say 70%--shoppers might question the quality of the item. This is among the reasons consumer researchers suggest a range of 15% to 35% to attract new customers and, when offering a deep discount to all customers, labeling it as strictly time-limited.
     Studies by a team based at Saginaw Valley State University, The University of Memphis, and University of South Carolina indicate that presenting the sale price in a font noticeably larger than the regular price also will ease shopper concerns about especially low or high discounts. The relatively big print grabs focus. This diverts attention from the shallowness of the little discount and from quality concerns generated by the deep discount.
     Strangely, the technique is working because the consumer moves away from contrasting the sale price with the regular price, the opposite of what we’d think is basic to a promotion’s attractiveness. But the team conducting the studies points to prior research showing how once a person recognizes an item is on sale, they’re less concerned with the precise amount of the discount.
     The font color also can grab attention. Put promotional prices in red ink, advise researchers at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Babson College, Drexel University, and Oxford University. When a sale price appears in red rather than black, it increases the perception of savings by about 70% among male shoppers. Related to this, the men in the studies liked retail ads better when prices were presented in red.
     The effect was much smaller for women shoppers, though. The increase in perceptions of promotional savings with red instead of black ink was about 8%, a difference too small for the researchers to consider it significant, given the variation among people in price perceptions. Still, since the red made a difference for the men, use that color.
     Font size and color for salience work most clearly for very small and very large promotional discounts. With moderate discounts, it’s probably best to highlight the contrast between the regular price and the sale price.

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Monday, July 3, 2023

Circulate Supplier IDs in a Circular Economy

A circular economy system aims to minimize the discard of used materials, instead reusing them. This could mean transformation into something similar to the recycled item (material from recycled soda cans being used to produce new soda cans) or quite different (material from recycled soda cans being used to produce bicycle frames).
     If the end products are to be employed close to the body (drinking glasses, for example), shoppers might fear becoming contaminated. Carleton University researchers have identified two methods which ease such fears. One of these methods makes immediate intuitive and logical sense: Describe to shoppers how the recycled materials were cleaned as part of the production process. Study participants who were told, “The product will be thoroughly sanitized prior to shipping to customers,” had fewer concerns about disease contamination than were study participants not told this.
     The other method may seem intuitively appealing, yet it also begs for explanation of the effectiveness: Identify the retailer. This consisted of announcing to shoppers the retailer’s name and showing shoppers the retailer’s photo. In the studies, a fictitious name and generic photo were used.
     There was no implication that the study participant was friends with the retailer or even knew the retailer. Still, the explanation for this method working to ease fear is that the retailer was less of a stranger and people’s contamination worries are greater when dealing with strangers.
     The researchers attribute these effects to our evolutionary-determined fear of disease. It’s relevant that the study was conducted with Canadian participants during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’d expect concern about contamination to be top-of-mind for consumers during such times. Still, the cultural impact of the pandemic was severe enough to leave a salience residue. Assuring consumers of thorough sterilization measures and personally identifying suppliers might now be vital components for a circular economy’s successful refurbishing, repurposing, and recycling.
     A caution, though, comes from these Carleton University researchers’ reports of prior studies in which assurances of sanitizing and social similarity hurt acceptance. Emphasize cleanliness when consumers weren’t even thinking about dirtiness and the result could be that those consumers become more fearful. Accentuate the identity of the item’s supplier and the result might be that the impression that this person is not a friend outweighs the impression that they are not a stranger. Here, too, fear of disease contamination rises. Best that your assurances are more subtle.

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Show Products Made of Recycled Items