Monday, May 27, 2024

Decelerate the Pace to Develop Contemplation

When producing a short video to persuade others—such as for social media platforms—we’ll often aim to stuff in as many selling points as possible. We also may recall the evidence that young adults—often a top target audience for our persuasion efforts—seek the excitement of speed. The result is a fast-paced portrayal in the short video.
     A set of studies from researchers at Tilburg University, Goethe University Frankfurt, and University of Colorado Boulder argue for us to consider slowing down. Sometimes, slow-motion video significantly enhances persuasion.
     The findings apply when the short video portrays complex movements which the viewer finds to be pleasant. Portrayal of a basketball dunk or wave crashing on the shore, for instance. Decelerating the action facilitates comprehension and appreciation of the details. The advice doesn’t clearly apply to longer videos, in which slowing the action can come across as boring, foolish, or faked.
     Nor is the advice intended for situations where the video viewer is not seeking comprehension fluency. Examples of this include portrayals of unpleasant images or with a consumer who prefers incomplete comprehension. But in the proper circumstances of the studies, slow-motion videos increased ad sponsor preference and willingness to pay compared to equivalent normal-motion videos.
     The advantages of sometimes slowing down apply not just to short videos, but also to entire sales transactions. There are circumstances in which we do well to slow down the shopper as they settle on a course of action. Premature closure can have bad consequences ranging from returned items to safety risk.
     Easing the speed is a particular challenge when serving people high in a personality trait called “need for cognitive closure.” These consumers want to make shopping decisions promptly and then lock in those decisions. They’re uncomfortable with ambiguity. They are the polar opposite of shoppers who evidence a strong need to analyze as much information as possible before deciding.
     Researchers at Baylor University and University of Cincinnati found that shoppers with a high need for cognitive closure will slow down their decision making and work harder to analyze information when they believe the effort will be useful for making similar decisions in the future. An example of this is when the choice is about a newly introduced item or experience which is likely to become recurrent. This finding indicates that a marketer can encourage more contemplation during a transaction by highlighting those characteristics of a choice.

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Slow Decision Making Among Shortcutters 

Monday, May 20, 2024

Noodle the Value of Novelty for Seniors

After reviewing decades of research about how older people make purchase decisions, University of Stuttgart gerontologists noted a tendency for seniors to return to the same merchants and shops for the same brands. They attributed this to the appeal of familiarity.
     Younger consumers seek the excitement of novelty, while older consumers seek the calmness of familiarity. In one set of studies, participants were offered choices of tea, bottled water, and music. The older participants were more likely than the younger ones to select “a relaxing blend of chamomile and mint” over “a refreshing peppermint blend,” the bottle of “Pure Calm” water labeled in green over the “Pure Excitement” water labeled in bright orange, and the relaxed-tempo version of the song “Such Great Heights.”
     Such findings can lead marketers to avoid presenting novel offerings to seniors. However, a preference for the familiar is not the same as emotional upset from the unfamiliar. Results from a Stanford University study of people ranging in age from 18 to 94 years indicate that older adults actually experience less negative emotion when encountering novel situations in their daily lives than do younger adults
     Study participants were asked to rate their everyday experiences on dimensions of newness, unfamiliarity, and unexpectedness five times a day for a total of seven days. The accompanying emotional reactions were measured via participant self-ratings of intensity using positive descriptors, such as excitement and contentment, and negative descriptors, such as boredom and frustration.
     The researchers say the lowered emotional reactivity to novel situations among the older participants is due to a general lowered emotional reactivity which comes with advanced age. Researchers from University of Zurich contend that what distinguishes consumers who live happily into their advanced years is composure and poise. These reduce problems of daily living to manageable levels.
     The Stanford University researchers remind us that the nature of emotional reactions depends on the nature of the novelty. Being invited to explore new travel destinations is different from being required to change where you live.
     The Stanford University researchers present their findings as suggestive, not conclusive. They point to the evidence from prior studies that participation by older adults in a variety of experiences will contribute to physical, cognitive, and emotional health. So unless subsequent research results suggest otherwise, and without overwhelming the capacity to handle change, offer older customers and clients a smorgasbord of novelty to energize the familiar.

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Keep Senior Shoppers From Worst Impulses 

Monday, May 13, 2024

Listen with Benevolent Intentions

Listening sells. In a literature review article, researchers at University of Haifa and Stanford University point to the evidence that agents of influence who listen well are more persuasive than those who don’t. Good listening builds trust, and trustworthiness leads to the target of persuasion taking advice and accepting claims. Trust increases brand loyalty, purchase intentions, and post-purchase satisfaction.
     When the agent of persuasion is viewed by the target of persuasion as listening well, perceptions of competence of the agent grow. Interestingly, perceptions of the target of persuasion in their own competence also grow.
     The accuracy of all these statements does depend on our definition of good listening, though. And the definition of good listening is necessary if we’re to make use of the findings to improve our skills.
     Some listening skills covered by the researchers’ definition consist of verbal behaviors. Examples include: 
  • Ask follow-up questions. These request more details on what the target of persuasion has just said. 
  • Paraphrase what the target has said. Changing the precise phrasing used by the target is evidence you’re paying attention and not mocking. 
  • Exclaim on what’s said. Periodically saying short phrases like “I see” and “Oh, interesting” signal attention without needing to interrupt the target. 
  • Be attentively silent. Providing the opportunity for the target to complete expressing themselves projects receptivity to the message.
     Some listening skills concern nonverbal behaviors, such as looking at the target, smiling, and nodding.
     These verbal and nonverbal behaviors are observable. In their review, the researchers also highlight what is called “benevolent intentions,” an element which is not directly observable. This consists of the agent of persuasion’s positive regard for the target.
     Researchers at University of Texas-Arlington, University of Chile, and Universidad del Desarrollo studied “active empathic listening,” which refers to a salesperson integrating a client’s words and nonverbal messages for an understanding of the client’s beliefs, feelings, and intentions. These researchers measured salesperson self-rated AEL using questionnaire items, “I listen for more than just the spoken words,” “I ask questions that show my understanding of my customer’s position,” “I show my customers that I am listening by my body language (e.g. head nods),” and, “I sense why my customers feel the way they do.”
     When AEL was carried out, the client rated the service as being of higher quality than otherwise. This held true even if the client didn’t like the salesperson.

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Embrace Shopper Expertise 

Monday, May 6, 2024

Prompt Personalizing to Ease Change Resistance

Employees who personalize their workspaces are more committed to successfully implementing organizational changes. The University of Queensland researchers who verified this effect explain it in terms of territoriality—the feeling of ownership of the workspace—and change self-efficacy—the confidence an employee maintains that they’ll handle the challenges of the changes. When an employee’s need for territoriality is satisfied during periods of organizational change, change self-efficacy increases. Based on results from prior studies, the researchers theorize that this is because the employee’s self-identity then better incorporates the organizational identity.
     To establish territoriality, an individual will mark their space. Examples of marking include personalization, such as displaying diplomas and curated artwork on the walls and populating the workspace with items like books which are being read and mugs which trigger happy memories. When territoriality is threatened, the individual might engage in behaviors like erecting partitions.
     By encouraging workspace personalization, managers prepare their teams to commit to changes ahead. But the researchers caution against directing employees to personalize. That would risk erasing the autonomy and, therefore, individual self-identity associated with the personalizing. Taking account of this caution, I recommend instead prompting personalizing, such as by the manager commenting positively on the personalization by some team members in order to inspire other team members to participate.
     The researchers note that the advantages of workspace personalization can be undone with organizational policies of hot desking—assigning an employee a workspace for the day when they come into the office—and clean desk initiatives—which discourage the presence of items not directly related to one’s specific work tasks.
     Not that self-confidence from personalizing is always good. Colorado State University researchers found that drivers of cars with bumper stickers are more likely to honk, tailgate, and cut off other vehicles than are drivers of cars without bumper stickers. This held true whether the sentiment on the bumper sticker was about aggression or acceptance. “My Kid Is an Honor Student” as well as “My Kid Can Beat Up Your Honor Student.” “Visualize World Peace” as well as “Don’t Mess With Texas.”
     Moreover, the “bumper sticker aggression” showed up with window decals and personalized license plates. Consumers were using the personalizing of their cars to justify the expression of aggression in socially acceptable ways.
     Acceptable doesn’t necessarily mean safe. The Colorado researchers report that aggressive driving causes about two out of three auto accidents involving physical injury.

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Lead Your Customers Through Changes Gradually