Monday, February 26, 2024

Strengthen Weekday Sales with Music

Psychological depletion influences all sorts of consumer behavior, and it occurs not just within the span of a single day, but also in the difference between weekdays and weekends. A set of University of Bath and Babson College studies finds that in-store music boosts sales Monday through Thursday to a substantially greater extent than Friday through Sunday. The researchers’ explanation, supported by the studies, is that shoppers are under greater pressure during the workweek, and music fosters positive feelings in ways which enhance the shopping experience and restore depleted spirits. Music seemed to be more influential during later hours on the weekdays, when people would be expected to be more depleted than earlier in the day.
     The findings held for both background and foreground music in a grocery store field study. The researchers describe the background music as, “elevator music, with songs in major modes,” and no lyrics. The foreground music was, “songs that were popular at the time of the study and included vocals, likely to be recognized as individual songs.” The volume was designed to be just sufficient to be heard clearly over ambient noise in the store, and the playlist was long enough so that it avoided repetitiveness for employees as well as shoppers.
     The researchers point out their findings apply most clearly to retailers serving people on-the-job from Monday through Thursday. For a customer base composed primarily of vacationers or retirees, different strategies for using music would be called for.
     Other studies say that the music you play, as well as whether to play music at all, should reinforce the store personality you set. Among supermarket chains, Aldi stores don’t use music, Kroger stores do. The nature of the music also matters. If your sales depend on the shopper carefully analyzing the purchase decision, either do not have music or use music that is barely noticeable. Researchers at Columbia University and Northwestern University find that when a customer listens to the music in the store, their attention is taken away from analyzing the purchase decision. If you’re wanting the customers to try new brands or new products, eliminate intrusive music.
     Based on those same research findings, use noticeable music—such as music with lyrics—if you both expect and want the shopper to select items from habit without much thought. Noticeable music helps head off arguments the shopper might make to themselves about the purchase.

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Use Music to Motivate, Not Disrupt 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Declare Inexperience to Experience Forgiveness

You want your frontline staff to be experts and for shoppers to recognize the expertise. Yet a trio of researchers at University of Bordeaux and KEDGE Business School find a payoff in boldly proclaiming that an inexperienced frontline staff member is, in fact, not yet an expert: If there’s a service failure during the subsequent sales transaction, the customer is more forgiving of both the employee and the retailer and, if the customer has already built an attachment to the retailer, is more likely to return in the future than if the warning of inexperience had not been provided.
     Based on their study findings, the researchers do add cautions: The customer must not have already experienced a series of service shortfalls from that retailer. And the announcement of employee inexperience must have been given upstream—prior to the service failure—such as by the employee wearing a badge labeled “In Training” or saying at the start, “This is my first week at the job.”
     Researchers from European School of Management and Technology, Loughborough University, Ruhr University Bochum, and FOM Hochschule Hochschulzentrum Berlin identify another effective upstream method, which they call psychological vaccination against disappointment. In their study, a group of 1,254 airline passengers were sent a pre-flight email saying the company’s commitment to service quality had earned it several awards. A set of passengers within the group also received, in their email, phrasing that said long waiting times at the baggage claim cannot be eliminated.
     Among the passengers who subsequently experienced long waiting times, customer satisfaction was clearly higher for those who had received the added message. Importantly, the added message did not decrease customer satisfaction among passengers whose waiting times were shorter. The psychological vaccine only helped. It didn’t hurt.
     Timing of a retailer’s response counts for the downstream, too: Researchers at IMED Business School in Brazil, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven find that an apology for a service failure and a promise it won’t happen again are both effective in recovering trust. But the timing of each influences the effectiveness. An apology, which is seen by the victim as demonstrating integrity, best comes promptly. A promise, seen as a sign of competence, best comes a few weeks after the incident. Perhaps this is because a credible promise requires gathering information about what occurred and what will work to correct the problem.

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Have Staff Who Show and Share Expertise 

Monday, February 12, 2024

Swell Inspiration to Hike Multichannel Buying

Better than only persuading your shoppers to buy from you is inspiring them to buy from you. Inspiration enhances cross-channel purchasing, says a team of researchers at University of Valencia and University of Parma. The studies identified novelty as a significant way to inspire shoppers. Novelty expands mental horizons, which in turn inspires the shopper to consider a broader range of purchasing channels, such as both in-store and online, expanding a seller’s opportunities for profitability.
     In the studies, inspiration via novelty was measured by the consumer’s degree of agreement with four descriptions of their physical store and online shopping experiences: “My imagination was stimulated.” “I was intrigued by a new idea.” “I unexpectedly and spontaneously got new ideas.” “I discovered something new.”
     In the study surveys, participants were asked about purchasing of apparel, accessories, perfume and cosmetics, sport equipment, furniture, electronic appliances, consumer electronics and games. The participants ranged in age from 18 to 65 years. The breadth of merchandise types and respondent ages indicates that the findings hold across consumer marketing situations.
     The studies found relationships between inspiration via novelty on the one hand and, on the other hand, making purchases across channels. The effect is stronger in the direction of in-store to online than from online to in-store. One implication for retailers is to periodically redesign areas of the store in order to maintain novelty when an objective is to hike online selling. Change color schemes and merchandise arrangements.
     Multichannel retailing in itself introduces a sense of novelty and therefore the potential for inspiration. Shoppers find enjoyment in a variety of shopping experiences. But one way they can obtain this enjoyment is to go to different stores. Your customers might be shopping elsewhere even for products they could purchase from you because they seek the stimulation.
     Win those customers back for at least a while by reminding them you’re still around and worth looking in on. Distribute news about developments with the items you carry, such as variants, extensions, added features, and special offers. Then encourage returning shoppers to explore. Researchers at New York University-Stern, University of Pittsburgh, and Drexel University found that a coupon requiring shoppers to travel farther from their planned path to obtain discounted items resulted in an average increase in spending of about $21.00. When the coupon didn’t require wandering from the planned path, the increase was instead about $14.00.

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Utilize Multichannel with Hedonic Selling 

Monday, February 5, 2024

Destroy Item Destruction as Overstock Remedy

Some years ago, a graduate student at City University of New York came across bags of unused H&M clothing on the streets of New York. It turned out that staff at the 34th Street store had taken box cutters and razors to merchandise and then trashed the remains.
     In a paper investigating the effects on consumers of such techniques for pruning excess inventory, researchers at Can Tho University, UNSW Sydney, and Monash University note that H&M is not alone. Nike, Burberry, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Victoria’s Secret, Cartier, and Montblanc are all reported to have sent overstock to landfills or to simply have set the stuff aflame.
     The business objective might be to open up space for higher-margin merchandise, cheaply discard out-of-date fashions, or even to create limited supplies of in-fashion items so prices can be kept at premium levels. But when word gets out about these disposal methods, another business objective is undercut: The researchers verify how attitudes toward the retailer turn negative. The resulting image of wastefulness is especially strong for luxury brands. This is not the kind of fire sale technique which benefits your business.
     One alternative to trashing or incinerating is to recycle, which could be considered partial destruction. Recycling was found to actually improve brand image. Other studies suggest that the positive image of recycling can be increased by showing people ads which demonstrate how recycled items are transformed into new items. The method works regardless of whether the transformed item is 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).
     The best alternative is to have adequate inventory in stock, but not overstock. A technique to consider is Expiration Date Based Pricing, where the retailer lowers the price of items as the expiration date approaches. The thought is that it’s better to sell the item at a reduced profit than not to be able to sell it at all.
     At the time of Sy Syms's death, his company was operating thirty stores in which, stamped on the back of each price ticket, was the date the item was placed on the sales floor, and stamped on the front was a series of dollar amounts in descending order. Every ten selling days, the price moved to the next lower amount on the ticket.

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Repent with Recycling