Monday, October 31, 2011

Social Shopping Study


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Future Vision of Mobile


Saturday, October 29, 2011

The myth of small packages

If you believe that good things always come in small packages, University of Alberta researcherJennifer Argo’s new study may change your mind—especially this close to Halloween.
In an article forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, Argo explores how our consumption behaviours change when it comes to treats like chocolates and candies are placed in smaller packages. She says that people eat more of a product when it is placed in small packages rather that a regular-sized packages. However, she said, those with low-appearance self-esteem—the term researchers use to describe people who are concerned about their body, weight or physical appearance—tend to consume more than the average population, especially when certain conditions seemed favourable.
“The low-appearance self-esteem people ate the most when they were told that the caloric information was favourable (low in calories), when the caloric information was on the front of the package and when the product was visible (clear packaging),” said Argo. “People in the high-appearance self-esteem category—those who did not indicate concerns about weight or physical appearance—still ate more, but there was a big jump in the consumption quantity for [those with low self-esteem].”
Giving in to the dark chocolate side
Argo says that information contained on the packages in the study samples did have an effect on the low-appearance self-esteem participants. This group tended to eat less when the product wasn’t visible, the caloric information was missing or they believed there were more calories in the small packages than what they expected.
She said elements such as a visible product and content labeling information served as cues to the group’s susceptibility, which Argo noted gave this group a false sense of belief that the package would help them manage consumption and help them achieve potential weight-management goals.
While this might be true if only a single small package is present, Argo says that, in reality, small packaged goods are often sold in multiples and her study showed that these helpful, small packages are detrimental to consumers’ waistlines.
“These consumers are basically saying, ‘this package is going to protect me; it’s going to help me achieve my goal,’ and so they relinquish control to the package,” she said. “They throw up their hands and say, ‘I don’t have to worry because the package is taking care of everything for me.’ As soon as they’ve given up initial control, they have no control to deal with that next package that’s presented to them.”
Self-defense against small packages
Argo says that buying the regular-sized packages of these types of snacks and exercising portion control will not only reduce calories, but also save money as well, although she says that some people may still opt to buy the small packages out of convenience. For this group, she counsels that they retake control and limit the number of packages they take out at any one time. And especially with the seductive call of leftover Halloween candies around the corner, Argo says the old adage of “watch what you eat” may not be a bad idea.
“Relinquishing control to small packages is “a very cognitive process; people are purposefully doing this,” she said. “(In the study) we found that if we interrupt the participants, if we distracted them with a task, they don’t fall prey (to overeating).
“When it’s a small package, distractions are actually beneficial in some respects.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Divided Brain - Myths vs Facts


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Characteristics of Pop-up Retail

Pop-up retailing has been around for almost 10 years now and can be considered an established way of doing business.  Below you can find a discussion on how the successful players have used this tool and how it  fits in a multichannel strategy.


Monday, October 24, 2011

When Do Consumers Try to Increase Social Standing by Eating Too Much?

Consumers who feel powerless will choose larger size food portions in an attempt to gain status, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. But there is hope for convincing them that a Big Gulp won’t translate to higher ranking.
“An ongoing trend in food consumption is consumers’ tendency to eat more and more,” write authors David Dubois (HEC Paris), Derek D. Rucker, and Adam D. Galinsky (both Northwestern University). “Even more worrisome, the increase in food consumption is particularly prevalent among vulnerable populations such as lower socioeconomic status consumers.”
Many cultural norms associate larger products with greater status—for instance, the size of a vehicle, house, or TV. The authors tested whether or not consumers used the size of food products to express their status. “Because vulnerable consumers are prone to express their status in order to compensate for their undesirable position and respond to daily threats, this research further proposes that the tendency to use the size of food options within an assortment will be particularly strong among those consumers who feel powerless,” the authors write.
In one of the authors’ experiments, they confirmed that consumers equate larger sizes of food options with greater status. For example, participants perceived that consumers who chose a large coffee had more status than someone who chose medium or small, even when the price was the same.
In other experiments, powerless consumers chose larger pieces of bagels than baseline participants. And the authors found that participants chose larger smoothies when they were at a social event than when they were alone.
But there is hope for our expanding waistlines, according to the authors. When powerless participants in one study were told that smaller hors d’oeuvres were served at prestigious events, they chose smaller items that had fewer calories.
“Understanding and monitoring the size-to-status relationship of food options within an assortment is an important tool at the disposal of policy makers to effectively fight against overconsumption,” the authors conclude.

Social Isolation: Are Lonely Consumers Actually Loners or Conformers?

Despite the proliferation of social networks, many Americans feel alone and isolated. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, lonely individuals behave differently in the marketplace than people with strong social networks.
“Despite the popularity of Wi-Fi technologies and social networks such as Facebook, Americans are more socially isolated than two decades ago,” write authors Jing Wang (University of Iowa), Rui (Juliet) Zhu (University of British Columbia), and Baba Shiv (Stanford University). According to the authors, in 2004 almost twenty five percent of respondents in a social survey said they had no one to discuss important matters with.
The authors set out to discover how this growing segment of consumers reacts to social consensus information. “Consumers often construct their preferences based on consensus-related cues and prefer majority-endorsed products,” the authors write. But the authors wondered whether people who feel lonely respond to consensus-related information in the same way.
During their experiments, the researchers asked participants to evaluate products based on information that included social consensus information—the percentage of previous consumers that liked the products. They measured participants’ feelings of loneliness and found that to a large extent, non-lonely people preferred majority-endorsed products (preferred by 80 percent of previous consumers). But lonely people, on the other hand, vastly preferred minority-endorsed products (preferred by only 20 percent of previous consumers).”
But, according to the authors, the lonely people don’t want to advertise their minority status. “Lonely people’s preference for the minority-endorsed products was only found when their preferences were kept private,” the authors write. “They switched to majority-endorsed products once their preferences became public.”
The authors suggest that marketers keep in mind the lonely factor when targeting consumers, like seniors, who might be less likely to respond positively to rave reviews from a majority of customers, for example.

The Cost of Consumer Fibbing: Can It Hurt to Tell a Little White Lie?

Consumers who tell little white lies to avoid confrontation might find themselves rewarding the people who inconvenienced them, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Most consumers have told an inquiring server that their cold meal is fine, a hairdresser that they like their unexpected „new look,‟ or a friend that his/her too- snug jeans look great,” write authors Jennifer J. Argo (University of Alberta) and Baba Shiv (Stanford University). But according to the researchers, white lies have negative repercussions for the people who tell them.
In one study, the authors studied consumers who had been made to wait for an unpleasant amount of time. The participants then lied about how they were doing by saying they were fine. These consumers evaluated their wait experiences more favorably than people who didn‟t lie and were more likely to help the people who delayed them—when they were reminded that they should be honest.
In two additional studies the authors demonstrated that this favorable reaction toward the “wrongdoer” occurred because people who are reminded that they should be honest and yet tell a lie experience “negative affect” (emotion).
“One way to reduce this negative affect is to misconstrue the experience by responding favorably toward the person who created the negative experience,” the authors explain. “Indeed, the effects only arise when consumers feel certain about the negative affect they are experiencing and they are certain about the cause of the negative affect (i.e., the white lie).”
For consumers, it is important to know that the negative feelings that arise after telling a white lie can have financial consequences. The authors found that people who told white lies were willing to spend more money for services or tips.
“Thus, Mark Twain‟s statement that „honesty is the best policy—when there is money in it,‟ is very true and consumers should think twice before telling a white lie.”

Is It Best to Withhold Favorable Information about Products?

Consumers are more likely to choose products when marketers withhold some favorable information until late in the choice process, according to the Journal of Consumer Research. But marketers need to walk a fine line to disclose information at just the right time.
“Conventional wisdom suggests that when seeking to persuade consumers to buy certain products, sellers ought to always „put their best foot forward‟ by providing as much favorable information about these products as possible once they have consumers‟ attention,” write authors Xin Ge (University of Northern British Columbia), Gerald Häubl, and Terry Elrod (both University of Alberta). But the researchers‟ study challenges this view.
Consumers use a two-stage process to make purchase decisions. First, they assess the various alternatives available in the marketplace and screen out those that are not attractive to them. Then they evaluate a small set of products to make a final choice. The authors found that marketers need to strike a balance between revealing too much information too soon or delaying so long that the product doesn‟t survive the initial screening process.
“This research shows that the preference-enhancing effect of the delayed presentation of favorable information after consumers have completed their initial screening often trumps the disadvantage due to the increased risk of the product not surviving the screening, resulting in an increase in the product‟s overall probability of being chosen,” the authors write.
Why does this happen? The authors found the delayed presentation of favorable information causes a shift in the relative importance that consumers attach to different attributes (like price, cleanliness, and size for hotel rooms). They also found that delayed release of information causes a preference boost for the product as consumers compare it to a more “static” competitor, for which no additional information becomes available in the final choice stage.
“These findings have important implications not only for the sellers of consumer products, but also for other „persuaders‟ seeking to influence the actions of target individuals or organizations,” the authors conclude.

What Defines Life Satisfaction for Consumers Living in Poverty?

People whose basic needs are met get more life satisfaction when they are more connected to others and when they experience greater autonomy, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. But those who live in dire conditions have little hope of achieving such satisfaction.
“About three-fourths of the planet’s population lives in nations with less than ideal material conditions, defined by low levels of marketplace abundance and lack of bargaining power necessary to access this abundance,” write authors Kelly D. Martin (Colorado State University) and Ronald Paul Hill (Villanova University). According to the authors, nearly half the world’s population lives in absolute poverty, and the poorest 40 percent account for 5 percent of total income. More than one billion people lack access to potable water, and two billion don’t have access to basic sanitation.
The authors set out to examine the relationship between life satisfaction and societal poverty. They looked at self-determination, which stems from conditions of relatedness (connection to important others) and autonomy. “We believe conditions of relatedness and autonomy are important to the poverty-life satisfaction relationship, but argue these conditions depend upon a country’s existence of a baseline of goods and services necessary for survival termed consumption adequacy,” the authors write.
The authors examined data from more than 77,000 consumers across 51 developing nations. They found that the situation for many of the world’s people is so bleak that neither relatedness nor autonomy could provide them satisfaction.
“These findings demonstrate that individuals living under extreme poverty are less likely to experience ameliorating effects associated with self-determination (relatedness and autonomy), revealing the added damage to people who already experience the worse possible material conditions,” the authors write. “Our results emphasize the pervasiveness and sheer hopelessness of individuals living in extreme poverty.”

How Does Hand Orientation Help Consumers Imagine Using Products?

Consumers need a little help when it comes to imagining using products, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Sometimes that means orienting an advertisement toward a dominant hand or helping them picture using the product (like putting a spoon in a soup advertisement).
“Across four studies we show that by simply orienting a product toward one‟s dominant (vs. non-dominant hand) in a visual advertisement leads to increases in imagined product use,” write authors Ryan S. Elder (Brigham Young University) and Aradhna Krishna (University of Michigan).
The authors created advertisements that depicted products with handles (like mugs) or utensils to eat the product (forks, spoons) oriented toward the right or the left. They created the images by flipping images so they were mirror images of themselves.
Simply orienting a product toward a person‟s dominant hand leads to more imagined product use and higher purchase intentions, the authors found—but only for positive products. Specifically, if a right-handed person saw an ad with a bowl of tomato soup with asiago cheese oriented to the right, she was more likely to choose it. She was less likely to want to consume a negative product (cottage cheese with tomato soup) when it was oriented toward her.
The authors also found that participants who held a clamp in one hand while viewing an advertisement were affected by the visual orientation of the ad. “When not holding a clamp, participants have higher purchase intentions for the product when it is oriented toward their dominant hand,” the authors write. “However, when participants are holding a clamp in their dominant hand, they prefer the orientation toward their non-dominant hand, as this hand is free to mentally imagine interaction with the product.”
The authors also found that ads need to be quite literal to help consumers imagine how to interact with a product. “Our studies show that the lack of an instrument to encourage imagined interaction (e.g., spoon) reduced the impact of the visual depiction on purchase in a manner similar to orienting the product toward a participant‟s non-dominant hand,” the authors conclude.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Study says passing mood can profoundly alter 'rational decisions'

Could a passing mood influence your financial portfolio for decades to come? Can impulses you inherited from your cave-man ancestors influence your financial decisions in the modern world in ways that may have lifelong consequences? 
In a word, yes.
Arizona State University researchers report new evidence that passing mood and deeply embedded human impulses can and do influence us as we make important financial decisions. The new findings, just released online by the American Psychological Association(, suggest that our economic decisions change radically when either survival or reproduction is on our minds.
The old view of economic decision-making focuses on human beings as acting rational. In the last few years, cognitive psychologists have revolutionized economics by demonstrating that economic decisions are often irrational. One of the best-known examples of such irrationalities is the phenomenon of “loss aversion.”
To a rational economist, $100 is worth exactly $100, whether it’s in your pocket now or on the gambling table. But dozens of studies have demonstrated that the typical person places about twice as much psychological value on keeping the $100 bill in their wallet as they do when they place it on winning another $100. 
New research re-examines economic decisions in an evolutionary light and suggests that our decision biases may not be so irrational at all. In a series of three studies to appear in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a team of Arizona State University psychologists shows that loss aversion waxes and wanes in flexible ways, depending of whether or not the person is experiencing different fundamental motivational states, such as self-protection or looking for a mate.
The research was conducted by a team led by ASU professor Douglas Kenrick. He is joined by Jessica Li, an ASU doctoral student; Vlad Griskevicius, a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota; and Steven Neuberg, who, along with Kenrick, heads up ASU’s Evolution and Social Cognition lab.
In the first study, research participants were asked how happy or unhappy it would make them to gain or lose $100, or to experience a 30-percentile boost in their financial assets. As in previous research, losses typically loomed slightly larger than gains. But all that changed for participants who answered the questions in a mating frame of mind (after imagining themselves having a romantic encounter with someone they found highly attractive). 
According to Li, the first author of the study: “For men in a mating frame of mind, loss aversion completely disappeared and they became more focused on wins than losses. For women, on the other hand, mating motivation led them to be even more loss averse, to focus less on possible gains and even more on the pain of loss.
From an evolutionary perspective this makes sense because reproductive decisions are inherently much more costly for females, who pay higher costs of pregnancy and nursing.
Other research by Kenrick and his colleagues has shown that women (but not men) prioritize a possible mate’s relative position in the dominance hierarchy, which means “men need to be willing to take some chances to win mates,” Kenrick said.
It’s not that men and women always respond differently to psychological motives. When the researchers put participants in a self-protective frame of mind (by having them imagine being alone in a house on a dark night and hearing an intruder breaking in), both men and women became more loss averse (conservative) in their judgments.
“From an evolutionary perspective, loss aversion isn’t always a good thing,” Kenrick explained. “Worrying about losses could certainly have helped our ancestors deal with threats, but it would not have helped men win the mating game.” 
The new studies are part of a program of research testing ideas discussed in Kenrick’s book: Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life: A psychologist investigates how evolution, cognition and complexity are revolutionizing our view of human nature. One of the key themes of this new view of human nature is that human decision-making manifests “Deep Rationality.”
This evolutionary view of decision-making contrasts with the classic view of economic decision-making (of humans as eminently rational and self-serving) and with the more recent behavioral economic view (of humans as biased, irrational and self-defeating). Instead, Kenrick and his colleagues argue that our biases are rational at a deeper level – designed to maximize evolutionary success.
Long before the ancient Aegeans began stamping coins or the Maldivians started exchanging cowrie shells, our ancestors were making economic decisions – they were allocating their scarce resources in ways designed to maximize survival and reproduction. Natural selection has endowed modern humans with a psychology that encourages us to make decisions in ways that have consistently helped our genes survive, thrive and replicate.
“These new findings are controversial,” Kenrick said, “because they contradict the assumption that economic decisions in the modern world are determined at the conscious level. Instead, it seems that biases our ancestors developed millions of years ago affect decisions we make today – in ways that influence our finances for years to come.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Noesis Global Retail Trends 2011/2012

Noesis Global Retail Trends 2011/2012
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A Stranger’s Touch: Effects of Accidental Interpersonal Touch on Consumer Evaluations and Shopping Time

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Consumer Futures 2020


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Consumers Rely on Signage over Other Ad Media

Businesses looking for a sign on how to prosper in a down economy need look no further than their own indoor and outdoor signage. 

That’s because University of Cincinnati analysis of a market research survey of more than 100,000 North American households found that shoppers are drawn into stores and make important quality inferences on the basis of signs.

In fact, one of the surprising finds of the UC research performed in collaboration with BrandSpark/Better Homes and Gardens American Shopper Study™ is just how highly ranked signage is among forms of communication used to provide new product information.

When consumers were asked to rate the perceived usefulness of various media, only television was ranked more highly than signage as the most useful source of new product information.

According to UC researcher James J. Kellaris, “Although television was rated as the most useful source of new-product information, indoor signage (such as those at point-of sale, e.g., signage at the ends of store aisles or at check outs) tied with magazine ads as the second most useful source. And outdoor signage ranked third, followed by radio ads, Internet ads and finally, newspaper ads.”

He added, “So, what we found was that signage, a basic form of technology and communication that evolved in antiquity still works even in today’s Internet age.”

The survey also explored an important visual acuity issue: driving by and failing to find a business because its signage was too small or unclear.

“This appears to be a major problem,” said Kellaris. “Nearly 50 percent of American consumers report that this has happened to them.”

Although the problem is universal across genders and regions, it varies across age groups.
Surprisingly, this is not a “senior citizen” phenomenon, as both younger and older age groups report more signage communication failure than the middle (35-49, 50-64) age groups.

“What we see is a U-shaped distribution with the younger shoppers being just as affected as boomers and seniors. Surprisingly, 64 percent of women aged 18 to 24 report having driven by and failed to find a business due to small, unclear signage.”

The BrandSpark/Better Homes and Gardens American Shopper Study™ is performed annually by leading independent market research firm BrandSpark International in conjunction with the Better Homes and Gardens Best New Product Awards program. The sample for this survey includes over 100,000 North American households, with approximately 63 percent being U.S. consumers ages 18 to 65+.

“The survey provides a goldmine of data,” said Kellaris. “Our ongoing partnership with BrandSpark allows marketing faculty with varying interests to explore the database to uncover consumer insights relevant to many business areas, including the signage industry.”

The most recent survey included several items of interest to those in the signage business, including some critical issues—such as the economic value of signage.

For researchers like Kellaris, the importance of the collaboration with BrandSpark and Better Homes and Gardens Best New Product Awards program lies in the ability to track these initial findings with a massive sampling year after year.

“With an annual survey, one can tweak or add new questions. We can also spot trends, track changes over time,” said Kellaris. “We can even assess the impact of regulatory changes within geographic areas as sign codes are updated. This has implications for businesses and communities.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Every Chief Sales Officer Should Know About Sales Analytics

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Culture of Luxury 2011


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Decision Quicksand: When Trivial Choices Suck Us In

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How Economic Contractions and Expansions Affect Expenditure Patterns

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How Happiness Impacts Choice

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

We Are What We Experience

Our life experiences – the ups and downs, and everything in between – shape us, stay with us and influence our emotional set point as adults, according to a new study led by Virginia Commonwealth University researchers. 

The study suggests that, in addition to our genes, our life experiences are important influences on our levels of anxiety and depression. 

“In this time of emphasis on genes for this and that trait, it is important to remember that our environmental experiences also make important contributions to who we are as people,” said principal investigator Kenneth Kendler, M.D., director of the VCU Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics.

“When I was growing up, in talking about the importance of a good diet, we used to say ‘You are what you eat.’ What this study shows is that to a substantial degree, ‘you are what you have experienced.’ That is, your life history stays with you in impacting on your background book, for good or for ill,” he said.

Kendler, professor of psychiatry, and human and molecular genetics in the VCU School of Medicine, and an international team of researchers from VCU and other universities, analyzed nine data sets of more than 12,000 identical twins with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety through the lifespan. 

By studying identical twins, researchers have a pair of individuals who are born with identical genetic compositions and a shared family environment. Their environments may begin to change as they begin to make divergent decisions as they get older that come with lifestyle, diet or friends.

Participants completed reports relating to their own symptoms of anxiety and depression in a five-to-six-year period. The participants varied in age and were from American and European population-based registries.

According to Kendler, statistical models, developed by his colleague Charles Gardner, Ph.D., a research associate in the VCU Department of Psychiatry, were used to observe how components of individual variation changed over time. The team observed that as the twins moved from childhood into late adult life, they increasingly diverged in their predicted levels of symptoms, but after that point, stopped further diverging. Further, they noted that environmental experiences contribute substantially to stable and predictable inter-individual differences in levels of anxiety and depression by mid-life in adults.

You Can Wash Away Your Troubles, With Soap

“Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain,” goes the song. Is there such a thing as soap and water for the psyche? Yes: Metaphor is that powerful, say Spike W.S. Lee and Norbert Schwarz of the University of Michigan in a literature review appearing in the latest issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.
Religious rites like baptism make psychological sense, the article suggests. Says Lee: “Cleansing is about the removal of residues.” By washing the hands, taking a shower, or even thinking of doing so, “people can rid themselves of a sense of immorality, lucky or unlucky feelings, or doubt about a decision. The bodily experience of removing physical residues can provide the basis of removing more abstract mental residues.”
One study the authors discuss found that people asked to judge the moral wrongdoing of others saw them as worse when exposed to an unkempt room or bad odor than when sitting in a clean room. In another study, participants asked to think of a moral wrongdoing of their own felt less guilty after using an antiseptic hand wipe; they were also less likely to volunteer for a good deed to assuage that guilt. Even imagining yourself either “clean and fresh” or “dirty and stinky” affects your judgments of others’ acts, such as masturbation or abortion. The “clean” participants in one study not only judged others more harshly, they judged themselves as more moral than others.
Cleansing works for other mental discomforts, too, such as post-decision doubt. To resolve this doubt, people who opted for one of two similar jams felt better about their choice after making the decision, a well-known tendency called choice justification. But if people were given a hand wipe to use, they no longer justified their choice: They had wiped off their doubt. Using  soap  showed similar results after a bad luck streak in gambling: After washing, participants started to bet higher stakes, suggesting they had “washed away” their bad luck.
But we can’t conclude that people who bathe a lot are happier. “Cleansing removes the residual influence of earlier experience,” says Lee. If that experience was positive, it would go down the drain too. In fact, washing one’s hands after reminiscing about a positive event limits the warm glow of happy memories, leaving people less satisfied.
So was Shakespeare, so monumentally astute about human emotion, wrong to portray Lady Macbeth as unable to wash the metaphoric blood from her hands? The authors’ research suggests she might have had the wrong body part in the soapy water. In one experiment, participants were induced to tell a malicious lie either by email or voice mail. Afterwards, those who had lied “by mouth” evaluated a mouthwash more highly than a hand sanitizer, while those who transgressed “by hand” showed the opposite preference. “Lady Macbeth is an interesting example. Her unethical behavior is with her mouth”—she pushed her husband to commit murder—“but she’s trying to get the imaginary blood stains off her hands,” says Lee. “I won’t push it too far, but it fits nicely with research.”

The Power of Vulnerability


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mobile 2020


The Art of Gamification


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Brand name advertising clicks with online shoppers

Brand names in online search engine advertising campaigns can attract more attention and encourage more sales than campaigns that use generic terms, according to Penn State researchers.
In a study of a major retailer's online marketing campaign, researchers found that more people click on advertisements that appear on search engine result pages and purchase products when those brand names show up in the ads, according to Jim Jansen, associate professor of information sciences and technology.
"Certainly there is a positive correlation between branded terms in a query and branded terms in an ad and clicks," Jansen said. "A branded ad combined with a branded search phrase also generated, by far, more sales."
Brand names are words associated with a company and its products, history and reputation. Hotel is an example of a generic keyword and Marriott is an example of a branded keyword, Jansen said.
To place their ads on search engines such as Google and Bing, companies bid against each other for certain words or phrases that search engine users might use in a query. They also create advertisements that are shown on a search's results page when those queries are entered.
Jansen, who worked with Kate Sobel, undergraduate student, Smeal College of Business, and Mimi Zhang, graduate student, information sciences and technology, studied the data from an actual four-year keyword advertising campaign conducted by a national retailer that sells goods online and through physical stores. The data included information such as the number of times an ad shows up, cost per click, number of clicks and sales revenues generated.
The researchers, who reported their findings in the International Journal of Electronic Commerce, examined the performance of four combinations of the variables -- generic phrases, branded phrases, generic advertisements and branded advertisements. The branded keyword phrase combined with branded advertisement generated the highest average sales, which was 15 times higher than the branded phrase combined with the generic advertisement, the next best performing advertising combination.
Jansen said that another advantage with brand names advertising campaigns is that they are often cheaper because search engine companies such as Google discourage competitors from bidding on brand names and trademarked names.
Jansen suggested that analyzing the performance of branded search engine advertising could help companies calculate the value of their brands. By measuring the performance of branded keyword ads and comparing them with the branded keyword campaigns of competitors, marketers can estimate the value of their brands, often considered a company's intangible, but most valuable, asset.

Monday, October 3, 2011

In Reading Facial Emotion, Context Is Everything

In a close-up headshot, Serena Williams’ eyes are pressed tensely closed; her mouth is wide open, teeth bared. Her face looks enraged. Now zoom out: The tennis star is on the court, racket in hand, fist clenched in victory. She’s not angry. She’s ecstatic, having just beaten her sister Venus at the 2008 U.S. Open.
“Humans are exquisitely sensitive to context, and that can very dramatically shape what is seen in a face,” says psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett of Northeastern University and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard School of Medicine. “Strip away the context, and it is difficult to accurately perceive emotion in a face.” That is the argument of a new paper by Barrett, her graduate student Maria Gendron, and Batja Mesquita of the University of Leuven in Belgium. It appears in October’s Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.
The paper—reviewing a handful of hundreds of studies supporting the authors’ position, says Barrett—refutes the contention that there are six to 10 biologically basic emotions, each encoded in a particular facial arrangement, which can be read easily in an image of a disembodied face by anyone, anywhere.
Facial-emotional perception is influenced by many kinds of contexts, says the paper, including conceptual information and sense stimuli. A scowl can be read as fear if a dangerous situation is described or as disgust if the posture of its body indicates reaction to a soiled object.  Eye-tracking experiments show that, depending on the meaning derived from the context, people focus on different salient facial features. Language aids facial perception, as well.  Study participants routinely did better naming the emotions in pouting, sneering, or smiling faces when the experimenter supplied words to choose from than when they had to come up with the words themselves.
Equally important is the cultural context of an expressive face. People from cultures that are psychologically similar can read each other’s emotions with relative ease, an effect that similar language or even facial structure does not produce. Culture even influences where a person seeks information to interpret a face. Westerners, who see feelings as inside the individual, focus their attention on the face itself. Japanese, meanwhile, focus relatively more on the surroundings, believing emotions arise in relationship.
The real-world implications of such research are “substantial,” says Barrett. For instance, it offers needed nuance to the understanding changes in emotion perception in people with with dementia or certain psychopathologies, and even in healthy older people, all of whom “may have difficulty accurately perceiving emotion in static caricature faces, but might do fine in everyday life,” where context is available.  In law enforcement, “the Transportation Safety Administration and the other government agencies are training agents to detect threat or deception using methods based on the idea that a person’s internal intentions are broadcast on the face.” If they’re learning to decipher faces out of context, “millions of training dollars might be misspent,” says Barrett. This means that a misguided psychological notion could be putting public safety is at risk.