Monday, January 29, 2024

Swallow Rejections of Engineered Health Foods

People associate all-natural with health enhancement. But if we augment an all-natural food with a health-enhancing supplement, many shoppers will now reject the resulting innovative concoction. Strangely, dislike holds most strongly for people who are highly receptive to novel experiences.
     The Vilnius University and University of Groningen researchers say this happens because people with a low preference for predictability are especially sensitive to ambivalent feelings, and engineered foods generate ambivalent feelings. On the positive side of the item choice, there are the promised additional health benefits. On the negative side, human-engineered supplementation pollutes the natural. The attraction of nature is multifaceted. Some involves adventuresomeness, which is satisfied when trying out an innovative item. Some involves simplicity, which is disrupted when chemicals are added as ingredients.
     The products considered in the different experiments included milk, drinking water, and wheat crackers. In each case, some study participants were asked to consume or to indicate opinions after receiving a description of the item with a health-enhancing supplement, while other participants were asked to do the same when the item was not described as including the supplement. The reduced attractiveness of augmented items was found across the experiments, indicating that the findings can be generalized to the whole category of innovative functional foods. Further, it was found that a reduced attraction to one of the items was associated with a reduced attractiveness of the broad category of innovative functional foods.
     The researchers suggest to marketers that they target innovative functional food sales to consumers who show a high preference for predictability. These are people who would probably agree with statements such as, “I dislike unpredictable situations and I do not enjoy the uncertainty of going into a new situation without knowing what might happen.” Also, in the marketing messages, emphasize overall healthfulness rather than engineered characteristics.
     The researchers also suggest that marketers take into account the ambivalence and anxiety associated with accepting any innovative item. This same point was made by York University researchers who asked groups of consumers to consider using radically novel products, such as black facial tissue. Study participants preferred a well-known brand of these items to a lesser-known brand and favored items associated with a geographical region with which the consumer identified. The consumers were easing their anxiety by introducing the familiar. Once the study participants employed the additional choice criteria, judgments of the innovative items became more positive.

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Excite Consumers with Nature 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Augment Political Projection with Introjection

Valuable for the political longevity of an elected official is the ability to assess their voters’ sentiments about issues important to the voters. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the politician agrees with the voters’ views. The politician could recognize the divergence and work to change the voters’ opinions. But anything that disrupts an accurate reading of the constituents’ preferences is a danger. This danger arises because politicians might mistakenly assume that the views they hold are also held by the voters. This was seen in a study by researchers at University of Antwerp, Universit√© Libre de Bruxelles, University of Basel, University of Konstanz, University of Geneva, University of Toronto, Tel Aviv University, and University of Amsterdam.
     The psychological process responsible for the error is social projection. We all tend to assume that our likes—and to a lesser extent, our dislikes—are shared by those whose opinions we value. Projection generally operates automatically below the level of conscious awareness and is a prevailing human characteristic. The research indicates that politicians are no better than other citizens in avoiding the biases of projection.
     The dangers of projection for an elected official are lessened by the reality that generally the politician does reflect the sentiments of the voters. That’s largely why they were elected, after all. Still, staying aware of possible misperceptions, especially in the face of cultural changes, is valuable. The studies concluded that projection by the politician is stronger toward the partisan supporters of the politician than toward the broader electorate in the politician’s geographic district. If the ground of public opinion shifts, a legislator who is projecting might fail to sense and respond to the changes soon enough.
     Perhaps surprisingly, substantially increasing sensitivity to the bias of projection risks making things worse. The researchers report on a prior study showing how such acute awareness led to politicians then too often mistakenly assuming their policy positions diverged from those of the people who had voted them into office.
     A better remedy is using an awareness of projection to motivate continuing information exchange between a politician and the electorate. A counterpart to projection is the psychological process of introjection, which consists of incorporating the perspectives of others into our own thinking. It’s harder for people to engage in introjection than in projection, but such incorporation of voter opinions on pressing policy issues is necessary for prevailing as an elected official.

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Reflect Carefully on Marketing to the Mirror 

Monday, January 15, 2024

Introduce Inferiority to Move Superiority

To step up your sales of the high-end option, add a choice that’s way down in comparative attractiveness. Such attractiveness is determined by a shopper’s consideration of each item’s desirability—such as the quality of a printer’s output—and feasibility—such as the price of the printer. In ESADE and Stanford University studies, adding a low-desirability low-feasibility alternative to a consideration set moved the consumer’s preferences away from the lower-desirability higher-feasibility option and toward the higher-desirability lower-feasibility option.
     This upscaling effect was seen when study participants were asked to choose between a 30L-capacity $29.99 backpack and a 40L-capacity $39.99 backpack. Participants also given a 30L-capacity $39.99 model to consider were more likely to end up selecting the 40L-capacity $39.99 backpack than were participants not given that third alternative. Parallel results were seen with other study participants asked to select among alternative Bluetooth speakers, hard drives, hotels, or televisions.
     The researchers’ explanation for the upscaling effect is that shoppers find it easier to justify their natural preference for a high-end option when a low-desirability low feasibility alternative—a decoy—is in the consideration set. Other experiments by the researchers showed how the upscaling effect is stronger when the high-end option is positioned physically close to the decoy—such as on the same webpage—and the effect fades away if the shopper is asked to explain their reasoning before choosing.
     There’s evidence from studies at Brigham Young University and Emory University that asking a shopper to set a budget before choosing among differently priced alternatives is another approach to moving the shopper toward selecting a superior-quality, higher-priced alternative. When a shopper sets a limit on what they’ll spend, they’ll screen out alternatives which exceed the budget. The shopper now relaxes their attention to price. This allows the shopper to place higher importance on comparative quality of the alternatives. If there had been many alternatives at the start, a second result of the shopper setting a spending limit is that the set size is reduced. This amplifies the relative quality differences among the remaining choices. The highest quality item will be perceived to be of even higher relative quality, facilitating a justification for purchasing it.
     Consumers prefer to purchase higher quality when all else is equal. Encouraging the shopper to set a purchase budget and then including a clearly inferior alternative in the choice set helps the shopper achieve that objective.

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Contract with Near-Term Use via Contractions 

Monday, January 8, 2024

Position Your Extended Warranty Offer

How strange it seemed that immediately after I bought the item, the salesman urged me to recognize the wide range of ways my purchase might fall apart in the foreseeable future.
     It’s what I’m thinking each time I buy a car based on my thorough research and careful consideration of the alternatives, only to have some dealership staff member interrupt my paperwork-signing to pitch an extended warranty. I want to feel good about my high-priced decision, not start doubting. Wouldn’t it be better for a salesman to describe the extended warranty availability as part of making the sale of the durable item? “Each alternative I’ve shown you is an excellent product which comes with a base warranty. To make your purchase decision easier, realize that an extended warranty is also available at a modest additional cost on many of the alternatives.”
     Studies at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and University of Iowa indicate I’m on to something here. Based on their findings, the researchers say that people are more likely to purchase a warranty before committing to a product than after doing so. The explanation is that before committing to purchase, a shopper attends to potential product failure. This is part of the process of comparing alternatives and persuading themselves they’re making a good choice. But after committing to a purchase, the self-reassurance takes the form of over-representing positive aspects of the choice. The purchaser is relatively uninspired to pay extra for an additional warranty.
     Knowing when to make the offer is valuable information for a marketer because extended warranty and extended service contract sales generate high profit margins. Researchers at University of Iowa and University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill report that fewer than 15% of the purchasers end up making claims which exceed the premium fee. Their studies go on to provide sales timing guidance, but on the basis of months rather than the duration of a sales transaction: Consumers are more responsive to price promotions on the warranties when the general economy is weak.
     These studies also analyzed offering an extended warranty to the consumer well after the original item purchase, as the base warranty is moving toward expiration. During both weak and strong macroeconomic conditions, the price promotions are more influential when the duration of the extended warranty coverage is at least as long as the remaining time on the base warranty.

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Rethink the Timing of Reassurance 

Monday, January 1, 2024

Tout Limitless Supplies When Limited Variety

A challenge for the small-footprint retail store is persuading shoppers they’ll be able to find within the store the best items for their specifications. Of necessity, a constrained space usually means a more limited variety within each item category than is found in a larger store. A set of studies at HEC-Paris and Oklahoma State University did show how limited variety results in negative supplier evaluations. The researchers attribute this to shopper’s concerns about losing personal control in obtaining a desirable outcome.
     The researchers also find that a retailer can reduce the concerns by highlighting the abundance of those items which are carried in the store. Messages proved effective in the studies were of the format “An abundant supply of each to satisfy all your needs” and “large quantities in stock.” The messages went beyond claiming a moderate supply level. They emphasized an extremely plentiful supply. Perceptions of abundance nourished a sense of personal control which compensated in large part for the loss due to perceptions of limited variety. Shoppers realized they could purchase as many boxes as they desired of each chosen item.
     However, honoring the promise to the shopper of virtually limitless supplies of every item in the store carries its own challenges. A retail outlet might be smaller rather than larger because the owner has limited financial resources. Maintaining abundant inventory consumes money.
     An approach to this dilemma is to position your store as a gnategory killer. The huge retail store can be a category killer. People know that they’ve a high chance of finding whatever brand and model they’re seeking if they come there. The small retail store can be a gnategory killer by focusing on a highly specific niche like sunglasses, batteries, or soda pop.
     A related approach, one described by the researchers, is to tell your shoppers that what you’re offering them has been customized to their characteristics. The shoppers can then enjoy a chief benefit of a small variety to select from—quicker decisions. In one of the studies, participants were told that a pizza shop curated the pizza alternatives to the tastes of the local population, so carried only options catering to the preferences of people in their community. For these participants, reported likelihood of buying a pizza from that shop was the same whether or not the shopper had been told there was an abundant supply of the pizza ingredients.

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Give Shoppers Variety for Control