Monday, June 24, 2024

Pile Plenty of Political Polls on People

Voters who support a particular candidate for elective office consider the results of a political poll as less believable when that preferred candidate does less well in the poll. It’s an example of motivated reasoning, in which consumers’ beliefs are influenced more by what they already believe or want to believe than by new information.
     Researchers at Witten/Herdecke University, University of Zurich, and University of Mannheim posit this phenomenon as harmful to society, since in a healthy democracy, voters should be keeping their beliefs correct and current. The research findings indicate that the problem is eased when more poll results from a broader range of sources are provided over the course of a campaign.
     The political affiliation of the voter and the source of news can make a difference. In the researchers’ data set, Democrats’ beliefs were affected more strongly by reports of poll results when the Democratic candidate’s support was increasing rather than decreasing. This was particularly true if the results were said to come from Fox News. When the Democratic candidate was said to be winning, a Democratic respondent weighed Fox News survey results around three times more strongly than when the Democratic candidate was said to be losing. In the case of a poll from an MSNBC source, the increase was more subtle. These considerations did not impact Republican respondents’ belief changes.
     Even when voters’ beliefs are accurate, the effect on support of a candidate isn’t straightforward. Those who believe their favored candidate is clearly prevailing might increase contributions of money and time to the candidate’s campaign because the voter wants to sponsor a winner. But they might instead decrease their further outlays, feeling it’s now unnecessary. Those who come to believe their candidate is far behind might increase campaign contributions because they fear the candidate losing, or they might decrease their contributions because they label the campaign as hopeless.
     Also acknowledge underdog effects. Underdog narratives draw empathy for those who, in the face of resource shortages, are determined to prevail. However, while people root for the underdog, they prefer to affiliate with winners. Show that your candidate has the makings for ultimately winning. You’ll also want to present the candidate as a good sport. Researchers at University of Maryland and Georgetown University say underdog positioning helps most if your target markets see the underdog as sincere, fair, principled, honest, trustworthy, and less than supremely competent.

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Motivate the Rushed Toward Motivated Reasoning 

Monday, June 17, 2024

Accent Competence in Employees with Accents

A service provider achieves better results when the customer participates more fully in service provision, contributing knowledge and effort. Customer participation drives satisfaction and loyalty, generating higher customer retention, sales growth, and firm profitability.
     After noting such past findings, researchers at FHWien der WKW, Bern University of Applied Sciences, and University of Leeds go on to report how their studies show the effects on customer participation of foreign-culture accent detected in the provider by the customers. A customer becomes less interested in contributing to the service encounter when the provider has an accent the customer considers to be from an unfavorable culture. Unfavorable-culture accents discourage customer participation even in situations where the participation is required for successful completion of the service. The range of service settings explored by the researchers covered financial planning, air travel, and guided meditation.
     The researchers do fear that reports of these findings will be used to discriminate against employees by limiting those with certain accents to less favorable job assignments. They propose avoiding this by mixing unfavorable-culture accented employees with native speakers in service delivery posts. Another suggestion implicit in their findings is to overcome negative stereotypes associated with certain accents by ensuring that all employees deliver competent services in a caring manner.
     A quite different type of country-of-origin study suggests an additional remedy: Babson College researchers asked liquor store shoppers to sip a wine, then give their judgment of the quality. Some of the study participants were told the wine was from Italy, while others were told the wine was from India.
     The timing of the country-of-origin information determined how the stereotype operated: If the wine-taster was given the country-of-origin information before the sip, those tasting the “Italian” wine rated the product as having higher quality than those tasting the wine from “India.” If the information was given after the sip, the results were reversed: Those who had sipped the “Italian” wine gave lower ratings to the quality on average than those getting the wine from the same bottle, but told it was from India.
     It was as if the consumer who had enjoyed the experience went overboard in fighting against stereotypes about Italian and Indian wines.
     Applied to the foreign-accent problem, maybe starting provider-customer service contacts with text messages and then, after showing competence, revealing the foreign accent, could result in services delivered by those with the accent being rated as even better than by those without.

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Empower Indirectly Using Co-creation 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Post Brand Selfies in Highly Positive Reviews

It’s just common sense that online shoppers feel more comfortable with a prior customer’s product review when there’s a product image in the posting. But common sense often is less than universally true when describing consumer behavior. Studies at ESSEC Business School and University of Maastricht provide guidance for when product images are most helpful. In the studies, review helpfulness was defined as the shopper finding value in the review because it reduced purchase uncertainty.
     Based on their findings, the researchers recommend that online retailers especially encourage customers to include one or more images in a review when the item is one that promises value primarily from the pleasure of use rather than the practical utility of the outcome of use and when the review is otherwise extremely positive. These are circumstances where the review reader is most likely to consider the inclusion of the image to have made the review more helpful.
     The researchers also suggest the image show the product in use. This is consistent with findings from another study about product images: Researchers at University of Hamburg, Vienna University of Economics and Business, and Columbia University compared three formats: 
  • Pack shot. A standalone picture of the item with the brand logo clearly displayed 
  • Consumer selfie. Like a pack shot, but the face of the selfie poster or item user is also in the frame 
  • Brand selfie. Like a consumer selfie, but rather than a face, only a hand holding the item is shown
     The brand selfie format produced evidence of the highest purchase intention by social media viewers. The explanation is in the ability of the viewer to imagine themselves holding the item. The pack shot doesn’t do as well in getting the viewer in touch with the item. And the human face in the consumer selfie directed thoughts away from the brand, toward the person shown.
     It’s on the idea of drawing attention in the wrong direction that studies at University of Maryland caution about the use of images in comparative advertising. Showing pictures of people using the product leads shoppers to start thinking about using the products themselves, and when they do this, they put too much mental energy into thinking about just the recommended product. They forget to pay attention to the comparative advantages. But an exception to this exception is when the comparative shopping decision is quite complex. Then an image helps.

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Lend a Hand to Brand Selfies 

Monday, June 3, 2024

Upsell the Discounted Purchase

A $50 price break on items in a merchandise category draws shoppers. Once the shoppers arrive, we almost always prefer that they purchase the higher-priced alternative in that category covered by the discount. A tactic for giving a nudge toward this is offering the price break as non-integrated rather than integrated.
     The definitions of integrated and non-integrated were developed by researchers at University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Shanghai University for use in their studies which demonstrated the value of the tactic. An integrated price reduction is a discount shown directly on the price statement for each applicable item, as in the format “$179.99 each regular price. Now $129.99. Save $50.” A non-integrated price reduction is presented in a form separate from the item’s price information, such as via a coupon with a promo code to get $50 off the regular purchase price of applicable items.
     The researchers find that, compared to the situation with an integrated discount, shoppers are less likely to be thinking about the final prices of the item when using the non-integrated discount. The result is that the difference in prices between a lower-priced, less desirable item and higher-priced, more desirable item is psychologically smaller. The difference between regular prices of $22.99 and $40.99, each to be discounted by $10 with a promo code, feels smaller than does the difference between the discounted prices of $11.99 and $39.99 as shown on the price tags. A feeling of smaller additional financial outlay to upgrade achieves the objective of nudging the shopper toward purchasing the higher-priced alternative.
     Studies at Tilburg University and Macquarie University address the same objective when a retailer is using a multiple quantity discount: What difference does it make whether you say, “Buy two, get 20% off on both,” or “Buy two, get 40% off on the lower-priced item”?
     Overall purchase rates were about the same with either. Yet the two alternatives did result in different ways of selecting the items to purchase. For the “40% off on the lower-priced item,” shoppers tended to select a more expensive second item than under the “20% off on both.” Helping this along is that 40% looks larger than 20%, even though the 40% applies to only one of the pair. Shoppers want to maximize the return from the 40% discount, so they’re more open to a higher price point.

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