Friday, July 29, 2011

Building Brand Brilliance


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Data Trail

Privacy International - Data Trail from This is Real Art on Vimeo.o

How The Brain Keeps Track of What We’re Doing

“Working memory” is what we have to keep track of things moment to moment: driving on a highway and focusing on the vehicles around us, then forgetting them as we move on; remembering all the names at the dinner party while conversing with one person about her job.
Most psychologists explain working memory with a “controlled attention” model: one flexible system that directs the brain’s focus to stimuli and tasks that are important and suppressing the rest. The capacity of working memory, they say, is limited by our ability to attend to only one thing at a time.
Now, in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science, University of Edinburgh cognitive neuroscientist Robert H. Logie challenges this model.
“We have a range of different capacities, each with its own function, and they operate at the same time” when we perform a task or think about something, says Logie. Within this “multiple-component framework,” working memory capacity is “the sum of the capacities of all these different functions.”
This “workspace” in the brain, as Logie calls it, allows us to do something while other functions operate in the background or to apply ourselves to a single task involving more than one function.  In reading, for instance, we both see words and process meaning. The “sum” of the capacities isn’t a gross measure, though, because we often tax one function more than another. In reading, processing has its shoulder to the grindstone, while vision takes it easy.
In addition to the attentional model of working memory, Logie critiques the experimental methods shaped by it. Example: Studies measuring capacity ask participants to read a sentence (process) and remember the sentence’s last word (memory), then read several sentences and recall all the final words in order. How well a person does can predict performance on other tasks or exams. But the experiment, which assumes one big resource pouring into different tasks until it’s used up, tests only one function, memory for words.
If you want to understand not just the capacity but the structure of working memory—which Logie considers a more fruitful avenue of research—there’s a better experimental methodology: cognitive neuroscience. “Imaging data demonstrate that if you ask people to do one sort of task, you get one [brain] pattern, and if you ask them to do another, you get another pattern.”  Make the same task harder—say, remember word lists faster—and “you see increased activation in the same area.” Complicate it—add words to the sequence, and thus processing along with recall—and different networks fire.
The multiple-component model holds great practical promise, says Logie. In education, “if you assume there is a single general capacity,” interventions for people struggling to learn are few. Assume multiple components to draw on, and those other resources stand ready for development.
Similarly, if you see general impairment in aging or after brain damage, you can give only generalized support. Look for decline or impairment in specific functions—not just physical but cognitive—and you can exercise the still-robust functions, helping people live richer, more independent lives.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Study: Some moms 'doppelgang' their daughters' style

Mothers have a stronger tendency to mimic their daughters' consumption behavior than vice versa

How much do our children influence our consumption behavior? Much more than we thought.
A new study by a Temple University Fox School of Business professor finds that teenage girls have a strong influence on the products their mothers buy solely for personal use, as in makeup or clothing, and that mothers have a much stronger tendency to mimic their daughters' consumption behavior than vice versa.
"This finding provides initial support for the notion of reverse socialization and suggests that the impact adolescents have on their parents is much more profound than has been credited to them," Dr. Ayalla A. Ruvio, lead author and an assistant professor of marketing, writes in a forthcoming Journal of Consumer Behavior article.
This phenomenon – an intentional decision-making process of whom to mimic and how – produced a new term and inspired the article's title: the consumer doppelganger effect.
"It is not merely the mimicking act that is conscious," the researchers wrote of the consumer doppelganger effect. "The findings clearly indicate that the subjects intentionally choose the figure they want to emulate and report their inclination to mimic their consumption behavior."
The researchers analyzed whether teenage girls tend to emulate their mothers' consumption behavior or whether mothers mimic their daughters. The study, conducted through questionnaires, sampled 343 mother-daughter pairs, with an average age of 44 for the mothers and 16 for the daughters. The researchers found that if a mother is young at heart, has high fashion consciousness and views her daughter as a style expert, she will tend to doppelgang her daughter's consumption behavior.
However, even if the daughter has high interest in fashion and an older cognitive age –thinking she's older than she is – she still is less likely to view her mother as a consumer role model and to doppelgang her.
According to the researchers, the mother-daughter model is the first to test "bidirectional influence," or whether the consumer doppelganger effect can go both ways. Ruvio and her colleagues integrated "two streams of research," the study of mimicry and literature on role modeling, to demonstrate that "children affect their parents' consumption behavior with regard to the products that the parents themselves consume."


Monday, July 25, 2011

Borders Postmortem, A Failure of Loyalty

It's been said that a good book tells the truth about its hero and a bad book tells the truth about its author. But the liquidation of a 40 year-old bookstore chain ultimately tells the truth about the brand anad how it was managed.
Last Friday Borders bookstores began liquidation sales at their remaining 399 retail stores. Former Borders VP and Chief Merchandising Officer and current interim CEO, Mike Edwards, sent out an email to Borders Rewards customers, which was an interesting spin on events. But to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, a thing is not necessarily true because a brand dies for it, so here are some portions of his letter and some of our observations from a loyalty and engagement perspective.

"I want to personally thank you for your loyalty and support. . . "

Observation: What loyalty? It's been more than half a decade since Borders declared an actual profit, and has lost a billion + dollars since. That's occasional shopping, not the loyalty that drives profitability.

"You might be asking yourself what happened?"

Observation: Not really. Borders was egregiously bad at identifying consumer product and lifestyle trends, introducing candles and stationary, CDs and DVDs at a time when consumers were moving in other directions. The chain was late to the e-book movement, but more about that later. We don't know what they relied upon for insights, but we're sure they weren't real loyalty measures. Actual loyalty measures identify consumer behavior trends 12 to 18 months before they show - or in the case of Borders -- do not show up at the register.

"We had worked very hard toward a different outcome. The fact is that Borders has been facing headwinds for quite some time including a rapidly changing book industry, the e-Reader revolution, and a turbulent economy."

Observation: This is like Krispy Kreme blaming the Atkins diet on their brand positioning blunders. It's true that the book industry has changed and the economy has been wonky, but volumes of competitors - from Barnes & Noble to Wal-Mart - have managed to take away market share and customers from Borders in that same economic environment. Borders was late to the Web, and late bringing e-tailing into their marketing mix. In fact, despite their "very hard work," Borders actually contracted out their e-commerce business to No. Really. We're not kidding. They drove customers to an actual competitor. They only acknowledged the inertia of electronic books back in July 2010, a year after Barnes & Noble--nearly a year after that they changed their e-Reader apps to the Kobo. This move was, apparently, too little, too late to really engage customers.

"We put up a great fight, but regrettably, in the end we weren't able to overcome these external forces."

Observation: Not to mention the $1.293 billion dollars that they were in debt. After a good deal of financial negotiations, creditors rejected a bid from Direct Brands and Borders filed for an auction. But, alas, the bid deadline expired on July 17th without a single bidder coming forward. Meanwhile Apple, which has extraordinarily high levels of loyalty and engagement, saw their shares traded at nearly $375 and have delighted consumers willing to camp out in the street just to get products despite the "turbulent economy."

"Going out of business sales begin in stores Friday July 22. I encourage you to take advantage of this one-time opportunity to find exceptional discounts on your favorite books and other great merchandise."

Observation: Pleeeeeeease. Did we mention they're $1.293 billion in debt? OK, that notwithstanding, when you can only get customers in the door based on price, you've ceased to be a brand and have turned into a commodity. And today, consumers are looking to be delighted, and only real brands that can engage customers can do that. Loyal customers follow 'The Rule of Six:' they're six times more likely to rebuff competitive offers, and six times more likely to invest in your company. In 2008 Border's stock was 35¢ a share. Last year it was still under a dollar. Did we mention Amazon's shares were being traded at $215.00?
For decades, Borders stores have been destinations within communities. . ."

Observation: Although, apparently, not recently. If you're a retailer, loyal and engaged customers are also six times more likely to visit your locations.

"I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to lead Borders. . ."
Observation: One can only imagine Mr. Edwards was paraphrasing the Captain of the Titanic or reading from a 60% off copy of the Charge of the Light Brigade.
My sincerest hope is that we remain in the hearts of readers for years to come."

Observations: You mean like other companies who had brands that were bankrupt in funds and bankrupt in meaning? How many consumer hearts today beat wildly for the likes of Caldor, Spiegel, Bennigan's or WashingtonMutual?

The bottom line? With real loyalty metrics, a brand doesn't have to invent a happy ending. It can actually write one.o

Who Takes Risks?

It’s a common belief that women take fewer risks than men, and that adolescents always plunge in headlong without considering the consequences. But the reality of who takes risks when is actually a bit more complicated, according to the authors of a new paper which will be published in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Adolescents can be as cool-headed as anyone, and in some realms, women take more risks than men.
A lot of what psychologists know about risk-taking comes from lab studies where people are asked to choose between a guaranteed amount of money or a gamble for a larger amount. But that kind of decision isn’t the same as deciding whether you’re going to speed on the way home from work, wear a condom, or go bungee jumping. Research in the last 10 years or so has found that the way people choose to take risks in one domain doesn’t necessarily hold in other domains.
“The typical view is that women take less risks than men, that it starts early in childhood, in all cultures, and so on,” says Bernd Figner of Columbia University and the University of Amsterdam, who cowrote the paper with Elke Weber of Columbia University. The truth is more complicated. Men are willing to take more risks in finances. But women take more social risks—a category that includes things like starting a new career in your mid-thirties or speaking your mind about an unpopular issue in a meeting at work.
It seems that this difference is because men and women perceive risks differently. That difference in perception may be partly because of how familiar they are with different situations, Figner says. “If you have more experience with a risky situation, you may perceive it as less risky.” Differences in how boys and girls encounter the world as they’re growing up may make them more comfortable with different kinds of risks.
Adolescents are known for risky behavior. But in lab tests, when they’re called on to think coolly about a situation, psychological scientists have found that adolescents are just as cautious as adults and children. The difference between the lab and the real world, Figner says, is partly the extent to which they involve emotion. In an experiment where adolescents’ emotions got triggered strongly (with a gambling task in which they made stepwise decisions of increasing risk and got immediate feedback on how good or bad they were doing, a situation much closer to real-world incremental or dynamic risk decisions), they looked very different from children and adults and took bigger risks, just as observed in real world settings.
Emotion can affect decisions about risk-taking in all age groups, not just adolescents, Figner says. And the emotion doesn’t necessarily have to be triggered from the decision situation itself even, for example. if you’re angry about an argument, you might later drive too fast on the highway.
“Ultimately we would like to provide knowledge with our research that people can use to make decisions that are more beneficial for them in the long term,” Figner says. The goal isn’t to avoid risk, of course—stepping out the front door in the morning increases your chance of getting run over by a bus. But by understanding when and how people decide to take risks, he hopes to help people make risky decisions that they won’t regret, either immediately after they have made them, or years later.

Customer Experience


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Do we buy cosmetics because they are useful or because they make us feel good?

A study by the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) shows that people who use cosmetics buy these products primarily for emotional reasons. The study was carried out on facial creams (hydrating and nutritive ones, coloured or non-coloured, and anti-wrinkle creams) and body creams (firming and anti-cellulite creams).
"The study shows that both the emotional and utility aspect of cosmetic brands have a significant impact on consumer satisfaction, but that the emotional component has a greater effect", Vanessa Apaolaza, a researcher from the UPV and lead author of the study, which has been published in the African Journal of Business Management, tells SINC.
Some of the main positive emotions aroused by beauty products include "the sensation of wellbeing gained from eliminating or reducing feelings of worry and guilt, which is the factor with the greatest impact", the author explains.
The scientists carried out personal surveys on 355 women aged between 18 and 50, who were selected in a random sample. They were asked to evaluate various aspects of their perceptions of the functional and emotional factors of the cosmetics they used, as well as their degree of satisfaction with them.
The results showed that "consumer satisfaction is greatest when the cosmetics brand helps to strengthen positive emotions through the perception of 'caring for oneself' and removing feelings of worry and guilt about not taking care of one's appearance", says Apaolaza.
Paradoxically, in order for the brand to provide this positive emotional experience, it must first cause consumers to have negative feelings about themselves, such as concern about and dissatisfaction with their appearance.
"One way of achieving this is by subtly telling them they are ugly – something that many cosmetics adverts achieve implicitly and very effectively by showing images of unusually beautiful women", the study points out.
"The theory of social comparison has been used in various research studies to explain how using very attractive models in advertising can affect consumers", says Apaolaza.
"The basic premise of these studies is that consumers compare their own level of physical attractiveness with that of the models used in adverts, and that these comparisons give rise to negative effects in the way they perceive their own physical attractiveness and on their self-esteem. These effects are most heightened among people with the greatest awareness of their public image", she adds.
The study points to the need to eliminate these negative emotions and to soothe women's worries about looking good as one of their main psychological motivations for buying cosmetics.
Emotional need to attract the opposite sex
"Our emotions often dictate our decisions. In our buying behaviour, we make emotional decisions and justify them rationally. These emotions are in part learned and in part instinctive", points out Apaolaza.
For example, one thing that could explain the importance assigned to the unconscious emotional desire "to be attractive to the opposite sex, to be sexually attractive", and which encourages people to buy cosmetics, can be found in one of the most basic programmes of the human being, explained in the Darwinist approach to attraction – beautiful faces and well-formed bodies are important biological indicators of a person's value as a sexual partner.
Of the emotional brand-related components studied, "the positive feeling gained from experiencing greater success in social interactions" has the greatest impact on pleasure, the author says.
From a utility perspective, the researchers found that the design of the bottles or containers (attractive, making the product or brand seem technically superior, exceptional and unique) also has an impact on purchasing decisions.
"These results serve as a recommendation to the market to use persuasive strategies focused more on emotional aspects than functional ones", the researcher concludes.o

Social Media Marketing Book


Secrets of a Killer Media Buyer

Secrets Of A Killer Media Buyer: Collaboration from Piers Fawkes on Vimeo.o

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back to School Shopping, Mother Knows Best

It´s time for back to school shopping. Fashion and style have long been a key way in which young people define and display their sense of self. The “youth uniform” may be the same as it was de- cades ago — t-shirt and jeans are still their favorite fashion items — but Millennials are putting their stamp on the fashion world in their own way.

Teens and college age men spend more per shopping trip than young women ($94 vs. $81)? That's because guys want to get in and out of stores fast, and avoid shopping for awhile. Women enjoy the process, shop more often and spend more monthly ($137 vs. $99) than the guys.

White students spend the least on fashion ($81.41 per trip), Black ($91.51) and Hispanic ($98.20) students spend the most per trip, while Asians spend the most per month ($140.97).

Download the report by clicking here.o

Mobile Shopping Report

Mobile entertainment content company Myxer has surveyed 2,400 mobile users for its Q2 BoomBox Report on mCommerce:

- The most popular purchase among respondents was music (68%).
- Second to music, 5% purchased physical items to be delivered. The same number purchased "other digital content".
- Few respondents used their mobile to purchase event tickets (2%) or ebooks (1%).
- Mobile shoppers are beginning to up the amount they spend per item online. While most (58%) spend up to $10 per purchase, 16% had spent between $11 and $20 on average per purchase and 26% averaged $20+.
- Charging purchases to a mobile bill is the preferred payment choice across all age groups (31%), while 18% prefer to pay on their phone by credit card.
Download the report by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On Decisions

Should I skip my morning workout today so I can sleep longer? Or perhaps, since it is summer after all, indulge in an ice cold Mocha Frappucino with whipped cream and chocolate syrup drizzled over it instead of my regular herbal tea? Where should I take my date on our first dinner date? Should I go to graduate school? Decisions, decisions, decisions…
We all make numerous decisions everyday; unconsciously or consciously, sometimes doing it automatically with little effort or thinking and yet, at other times, we agonize for hours over another. Why do we make these choices – be it from deciding what to have for lunch or whether to say yes to that job offer halfway round the world. Sometimes we make choices on our own, and at other times, the choice is made for us. Exercising control (by making choices) is adaptive and now, a new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue ofPsychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that the opportunity to exercise control may be adaptive because it activates the areas of the brain associated with rewards.
“Everything we do involves making choices, even if we don’t think very much about it. For example, just moving your leg to walk in one direction or another is a choice – however, you might not appreciate that you are choosing this action, unless someone were to stop you from moving that leg. We often take for granted all of the choices we make, until they are taken away,” says Mauricio Delgado at Rutgers University, who co-wrote the article along with post-doctoral fellow, Lauren Leotti.
In conducting their experiment, Leotti and Delgado used a simple task in which participants were presented with different cues – the choice and no choice cues. The choice cue represented an opportunity for choice, where participants could pick two options, and the no choice cue represented a condition where the computer would choose for them. In both the choice and no-choice conditions, participants had the opportunity to win money, though the outcomes were not actually contingent on their responses. Nonetheless, participants tended to perceive control over the outcomes when they were given the opportunity to exercise choice.
According to Leotti, the study demonstrated that the opportunity for a sense of control relayed by the choice cues (compared to no choice cues) recruits reward related brain circuitry. “It makes sense that we would evolve to find choice rewarding, since the perception of control is so adaptive. If we didn’t feel that we were capable of effectively acting on our environment to achieve our desired goals, there would be little incentive to face even the slightest challenge,” says Leotti.
The research into the perception of control is especially relevant from a social aspect as it is important and valuable to psychological well-being. “It is at the crux of so many psychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorders, eating disorders and substance abuse,” says Delgado who hopes to continue this line of research by investigating contextual influences on the value of choice in the near future. Furthermore, by understanding the neural bases of perception of control, it may be possible to target effective therapeutic treatments focusing on choice valuation and treat disruptions to perceived control, the root of many behavioral disorders.
So the next time you are faced with making a decision; from something as simple as choosing a blue or black tie for a business meeting to something as complex as putting down a deposit for a house (near your parents no less)…ask yourself – who’s in control?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Restaurant Reviews: Can Negative Information Have a Positive Effect?

If you read a number of positive reviews for a product or restaurant, one negative one might actually boost your regard, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. That is true as long as the negative information only creates a minor blemish and if you can’t think deeply about it.
“Imagine that you are considering a new restaurant and reading reviews of it online,” write authors Danit Ein-Gar (Tel-Aviv University) Baba Shiv, and Zakary L. Tormala (both Stanford Graduate School of Business). “Most of the reviews are very favorable: Great food, pleasant music, relaxed atmosphere. Then you come across a review that mentions that there is no parking nearby, a piece of information that is negative but not quite central to your value proposition for restaurants. How does this small dose of negative information influence the positive impression you have begun to form?”
The authors found that when consumers receive negative information after receiving positive information, especially if that negative information is relatively minor and just “blemishes” the product, it accentuates the positive information— if it’s encountered after the positives and if the consumers are somewhat distracted.
In one study, the researchers presented consumers with information about a pair of hiking boots. The boots had many positive attributes (orthopedic soles, waterproof, warranty) but they came in a box that was slightly damaged. In another study, college undergrads were offered a chocolate bar on a hot summer day. The chocolate bar was a favorite and it was chilled, but broken in half.
The authors varied the amount of distraction participants faced. “Under low thought conditions—when participants were distracted or had fewer resources available for thinking about their decisions—we observed more favorable reactions to the products when participants received positive plus minor negative information rather than exclusively positive information,” the authors write.
“In situations that encourage careful thinking, presenting exclusively positive information still does seem to be more compelling,” the authors write. “But in settings that might make careful thought unlikely—as is true of most online ads— presenting some negative information has advantages.”

When the First Choice Isn’t Available, Why Don’t Consumers Choose the Obvious Second Choice?

Something strange happens when a consumer learns her favorite product choice isn‟t available: Instead of picking the runner-up, she‟ll reject it for another alternative, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Close second choices are an important consideration when a consumer makes a purchase decision and then learns that their selection is unavailable (out-of-stock, discontinued, just sold),” write authors Wendy Attaya Boland (American University), Merrie Brucks, and Jesper Nielsen (both University of Arizona). “In many cases, consumers cannot (or prefer not to) wait until their selected item becomes available; therefore they are likely to reconsider the options that are available now.”
Even though the obvious choice would be a product that came in as a close second, the authors discovered that up to 60 percent of consumers are likely to reject the runner-up option and select a lower rated (and previously rejected) item. “We found that making a choice between two close options places additional emphasis on the features that differentiate them, making these attributes seem more important to the consumer in a subsequent decision,” the authors write.
By way of illustration the authors describe a customer who is shopping for a new pen. After considering his options, the consumer decides he wants an extra fine, felt-point pen and finds two pens that possess that attribute, one with blue ink and one with black. “Although ink was not a major consideration in the original choice, the consumer must choose between them and decides on the blue ink pen,” the authors explain. “However, at the checkout line the consumer learns that the blue ink, extra fine, felt-point pen is out-of-stock. And, instead of selecting the black ink, felt-point pen, the consumer instead selects a ballpoint, blue ink pen, giving up the attribute (extra fine, felt-point) that was originally most important to his decision.” In that situation, blueness replaced “extra-fine, felt point” as the most important attribute. The authors call this “the carryover effect.”
In several experiments the authors found that the carryover effect is strongest when consumers narrow the field by dismissing all but two options.

Shop When You’re Happy: Positive Feelings Improve Consumer Decision- Making Abilities

Consumers who are in a positive mood make quicker and more consistent judgments than unhappy people, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“There has been considerable debate about how affect (moods, emotions, feelings) influences the quality of people’s decisions,” write authors Paul M. Herr (Virginia Tech), Christine M. Page (Skidmore College), Bruce E. Pfeiffer (University of New Hampshire), and Derick F. Davis (Virginia Tech). “We join this debate by looking at affect’s influence on a very basic element of decision-making: deciding if an object is liked or disliked.”
The authors manipulated study participants’ moods by showing them pictures of likable objects (puppies) or unpleasant images (diseased feet) or asking them to recall pleasant or unpleasant events from the past. After these “affect inductions” the participants viewed pictures of common objects one at a time. They then chose from a list of evaluative adjectives, positive and negative, which were presented in a random order.
“Our prior research found that people respond faster to positive adjectives than negative adjectives,” the authors write. “The present work finds that this difference disappeared for people in the positive affect conditions.” Not only did people in the positive condition respond more quickly to adjectives, but they also responded more consistently. For example if they responded that they liked an object, they were less likely to respond later that they disliked it.
“These results have implications for how we navigate our world,” the authors write. “The decisions we make about liking or disliking objects around us are fundamental to which things we approach and which things we avoid.”
Retailers who want to create good shopping conditions may want to be aware of factors that can induce negative moods, like abrasive salespeople and negative shopping environments, the authors suggest. “The results may also be relevant for understanding consumer responses to new products in which an initial judgment of liking/disliking is critical to the product’s success,” the authors conclude.

Size Matters: Why Do People Eat Less When They Have Big Forks?

Larger portion sizes usually mean we eat more food, but according to new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, bigger bites lead to eating less—in restaurant settings.
“In this research we examined the influence of small versus large bite-sizes on overall quantity of food consumed,” write authors Arul Mishra, Himanshu Mishra, and Tamara M. Masters (all University of Utah, Salt Lake City).
The authors conducted a field study in a popular Italian restaurant. They used two sizes of forks to manipulate bite sizes and found that diners who used large forks ate less than those with small forks.
The authors then began to investigate why this finding seems to contradict earlier research on portion sizes. “We observe that diners visit the restaurant with a well-defined goal of satiating their hunger and because of this well-defined goal they are willing to invest effort and resources to satiate their hunger goal,” the authors write. Diners can satisfy their hunger by choosing, eating, and paying for their food—all of which involve effort.
“The fork size provided the diners with a means to observe their goal progress,” the authors explain. “The physiological feedback of feeling full or the satiation signal comes with a time lag. In its absence diners focus on the visual cue of whether they are making any dent on the food on their plate to assess goal progress.”
The authors tested this conclusion by varying the quantities of food. They found that when the initial quantity of food was more (a well-loaded plate) diners with small forks ate significantly more than those with large forks. When customers were served small servings, the fork size did not affect the amount of food. Interestingly, in a lab experiment the authors found that participants with small forks consumed less than those with large forks. The authors believe that the participants did not have the same goals of satiating hunger as the restaurant customers did.
To avoid overeating, the authors suggest consumers learn to better understand hunger cues. “People do not have clear internal cues about the appropriate quantity to consume,” the authors write. “They allow external cues, such as fork size, to determine the amount they should consume.”

When Will a Message of Social Responsibility Backfire?

Consumers don’t react positively to all messages of corporate social responsibility, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. The message needs to line up with consumers’ mindsets and understanding of the brands.
“Certain brand concepts may be roadblocks for firms aiming to benefit from corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs,” write authors Carlos J. Torelli (University of Minnesota), Alokparna (Sonia) Basu Monga (University of South Carolina), and Andrew M. Kaikati (University of Georgia).
The authors examined how consumers react to certain brand concepts and companies’ social responsibility missions. “For instance, a luxury brand such at Rolex may be primarily associated with an abstract concept of self-enhancement (dominance over people and resources), whereas Aunt Jemima may be primarily associated with a conservation concept (tradition and protection of the status quo),” the authors explain. “Similarly, Apple iTunes may be characterized by an openness concept (exciting and free-spirited).” Even when consumers are not conscious of it, these brands activate related motivations in consumers.
The authors believe that messages of social responsibility that come from luxury brands associated with a “self-enhancement concept” cause consumers to feel that something is “not right,” which means their opinion of the brand declines. On the other hand, brands associated with openness or conservation do not have the same “motivational conflict” with social responsibility.
By testing participants’ reactions to real and hypothetical brands, the authors also found that people who had an abstract (vs. concrete) mindset were more likely to experience “disfluency” when brand information conflicted with social responsibility messages.
“Given that billions of dollars are being poured into CSR activities, knowing which brands are more or less likely to succeed is highly consequential,” the authors write. “CSR activities can backfire for luxury brands associated with a self-enhancement concept, but not for brands associated with openness or conservation concepts, unless steps are taken to avoid these negative consequences.”

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Media Revolution


When The Brain Decides

Every day we have to make decisions that involve evaluating or choosing between options, often without much information to go on. So how we do it? How do we prevent analysis paralysis?
Psychological theory suggests that we often rely on the recognition heuristic, choosing the option that we recognize over the one we don’t. So, as psychological scientist Christian Frings points out, if we have to predict whether Roger Federer or Michael Berrer will win a tennis match, we’ll probably stick with Federer because he’s a well-known name. We seem to have an innate preference for the familiar and research suggests that the recognition heuristic usually works in our favor, at least when it comes to things like predicting tennis matches.
But, according to his colleague Timm Rosburg, research still hasn’t determined whether it’s really “pure recognition” or something else that drives our preference for familiar over unknown options. So Rosburg, Frings and memory researcher Axel Mecklinger at Saarland University designed a study to explore the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie the recognition heuristic. Their findings will be published in an upcoming issue ofPsychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Existing research has already established that the familiarity component of recognition memory is represented by specific brain activity that can be recorded using electroencephalography (EEG) as early as 300 to 450 milliseconds (ms) after someone is exposed to a familiar object. So Rosburg and his colleagues decided to examine whether this same brain activity is associated with performance on the city-size comparison task, a task that is associated with the recognition heuristic. Participants were presented with pairs of city names and were asked to decide which city in the pair is larger. The authors found that they could indeed predict which city the participant chose based solely on brain activity in the 300-450 ms time window.
By connecting the behavioral processes associated with the recognition heuristic to the brain markers associated with familiarity-based memory, the authors were able to establish that the recognition heuristic really does seem to depend on pure recognition, or familiarity. Rosburg says that this kind of knowledge “allows us to understand both deficient decision making and the benefits of heuristics.”
While the recognition heuristic may allow us to make decisions quickly and efficiently, it may not always lead us down the best path. Rosburg notes that the recognition heuristic may actually be disadvantageous when it comes to picking stocks for our investment portfolios. “For the stock market, there is some reason to believe that the investment returns correlate negatively (and not positively) with the recognition of a company. A lot of companies involved in the credit crunch crisis actually had highly familiar names and this familiarity might have persuaded investors to rely on their products and stocks.”
So is there any way to ensure that we make decisions in which the recognition heuristic works for us and not against us? Rosburg contends that “decision makers will have to learn in which particular environments the feeling of familiarity will guide them to frugal decisions. Only when we, as deciders, realize that some of our choices are related to the feeling of familiarity, we might be able to develop a critical distance to this kind of ‘gut’ feeling.”

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pursuing Non-Conscious Goals

You’re at dinner with your date’s family and you’re already feeling slightly nervous, anxious and wondering what type of an impression you will make. All of a sudden, your date’s little nephew comes running up to you and hands you bits of food from his mouth. How disgusted would you feel?
In a new article to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, authors Ran Hassin and Daniella Shidlovski from The Hebrew University suggest that if you subconsciously want to impress the family, and taking the food would help you do so, you will be less disgusted than if you didn’t have such non-conscious motivation.
To test the effect of non-conscious goal pursuits on how we experience emotions, the authors increased female participants non-conscious wish to become mothers, and assessed their disgust from goal-relevant pictures of dirty diapers or runny noses, that evoked feelings of mild disgust, and goal-irrelevant pictures, which included pictures from various categories, like food.
According to Hassin, “we found that when you unconsciously want to pursue motherhood, you’re less disgusted by pictures of runny noses and dirty diapers”, he continues to say, “this only happens if you can really become a mother, or during the days in the month in which you can become pregnant.” According to Hassin, this is the first scientific data to show that our conscious feelings are determined by non-conscious motivations and goals.
“This research paves the way for a different understanding and more investigations for how feelings come about”, he concludes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Your mother was right: Study shows good posture makes you tougher

Mothers have been telling their children to stop slouching for ages. It turns out that mom was onto something and that poor posture not only makes a bad impression, but can actually make you physically weaker. According to a study by Scott Wiltermuth, assistant professor of management organization at the USC Marshall School of Business, and Vanessa K. Bohns, postdoctoral fellow at the J.L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, adopting dominant versus submissive postures actually decreases your sensitivity to pain.
The study, "It Hurts When I Do This (or You Do That)" published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that by simply adopting more dominant poses, people feel more powerful, in control and able to tolerate more distress. Out of the individuals studied, those who used the most dominant posture were able to comfortably handle more pain than those assigned a more neutral or submissive stance.
Wiltermuth and Bohns also expanded on previous research that shows the posture of a person with whom you interact will affect your pose and behavior. In this case, Wiltermuth and Bohns found that those adopting submissive pose in response to their partner's dominant pose showed a lower threshold for pain.o

How the connection to the future self impacts financial decision-making

Study reveals why people choose present consumption over long-term financial interests

The June 2011 edition of the Journal of Consumer Research features research from Professor Daniel Bartels, marketing professor at Columbia Business School, and Oleg Urminsky, marketing professor at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, that depicts how consumers feeling or not feeling connected to their future selves impacts their spending and savings decisions. The researchers conducted a series of experiments, manipulating the degree to which subjects felt connected to their future selves. When discontinuity with the future self is anticipated, people behave more impatiently – speeding up the consumption of utility (in this case, gift cards) – than when connectedness to the future self is expected. The research which examines how people weigh smaller, immediate rewards against larger, long-term rewards, is part of a growing area of study in psychology on intertemporal trade-offs.
In the first study, the researchers asked a group of college seniors — three weeks before graduation — to read a passage that described college graduation either as an event that would prompt a major change in their identities or as an event that would prompt only a relatively trivial change. Compared to students who read the passage describing graduation as a small change, those who read a description of the event as a major change were much more likely to make more impatient choices, choosing to receive a gift certificate worth $120 in the next week rather than wait a year for up to $240.
In a subsequent study, the authors asked people to evaluate their sense of connectedness and similarity to their future selves. Three weeks later, they were asked them to choose between smaller gift cards they could use right away or larger gift cards that would require waiting. "Those who had felt more connected to their future selves then made more patient choices and were more willing to wait for a higher-valued gift card," Professor Urminsky explained.
Professor Bartels discussed the significance of the study. "Our work suggests that you can motivate people to hold onto their money, or make other, more prudent decisions by increasing their sense of connectedness to their future selves. Rather than trying to guilt ourselves into making prudent financial choices or creating complicated incentive schemes, we can instead look for simple, straightforward ways to foster our sense that what matters most will be preserved in our future selves, so that we can achieve goals that are important."o

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Driving Sustainable Value Creation

Download the article by clicking here.o

Monday, July 11, 2011

Marketing Quotes 2011


Is a Little Negativity the Best Marketing Policy?

Honesty about "blemishes" can attract consumers to your product, says TAU researcher.
Most marketing departments work hard to establish a flawless reputation for their product or service. But new research from Tel Aviv University is showing that perfection is not all it's cracked up to be.
Dr. Danit Ein-Gar of TAU's Faculty of Management at the Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration, working in collaboration with Baba Shiv and Zakary Tormala from Stanford University, has uncovered the "blemishing effect," a counterintuitive benefit of negative information. When utilized in the right way, she says, a small flaw can actually improve consumer opinion of your product — and make people more likely to purchase it.
"Intuition tells me that if I have a small flaw in my product — nothing harmful, just a minor imperfection — I should hide it," explains Dr. Ein-Gar. "But providing consumers with information about both strong benefits and a small shortcoming may improve their overall evaluation." The surprising study will be published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Think fast

According to Dr. Ein-Gar, three variables are involved in activating a positive response to negative information: the order in which the information appears; the magnitude of the negative information; and the effort the consumer is investing in processing the information.
To produce this effect, a consumer must first encounter positive information about the product and start leaning towards it. Only then can the introduction of a small piece of negative information, such as slightly torn packaging or limited color selection, be effective. Finally, the consumer must process the information quickly, making an effortless and fast purchasing decision without employing much cognitive effort.
From ads on buses to pop-up banners on Web sites, consumers quickly process advertising and marketing information to ease their cognitive burden, Dr. Ein-Gar says. This is the key to the "blemishing effect." If a consumer is already leaning towards a product based on the initial positive information they received, a small and seemingly insignificant piece of negative information causes the consumer to refocus on the positive appeal rather than put in the cognitive effort to re-evaluate their first impression.
Dr. Ein-Gar and her fellow researchers tested this theory in several ways. In one study, they invited two groups to evaluate a pair of hiking boots for purchase online. One group was allowed to go through the product information at their leisure. The others were interrupted by an additional task which created a distraction impeding their cognitive processing abilities. In addition, the hiking boots were presented in two different ways. Some participants were presented with positive written descriptions of the boots' positive qualities, followed by a picture with the boots and a damaged box. Others were shown the photograph with the damaged box first, and then given the positive description of the product. Given the right set of circumstances, says Dr. Ein-Gar, the first group had higher positive evaluations of the product.
Moving at the speed of modern life
If people have time to consider, think rationally and invest effort in the process, negative information can impair positive judgement, Dr. Ein-Gar says. Marketers can best put the "blemishing effect" to use when consumers are in a situation where they must process information with little effort, such as in impulse buying. Put a product with a small flaw near the cashier, such as chocolate with an impending expiration date, and buyers will compensate for the small downside with a more positive attitude toward the product.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Study reveals how decision-makers complicate choice

A study by Columbia Business School's marketing professors Ran Kivetz, Philip H. Geier, Jr. Professor of Marketing, and Oded Netzer, Philip H. Geier Jr. Associate Professor, Marketing, alongside Rom Schrift, Assistant Professor of Marketing, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (he received his Ph.D. from Columbia Business School in 2011), demonstrates the existence of "complicating choice" – the process that decision-makers unintentionally initiate when making certain decisions – and the underlying psychological mechanisms that cause the phenomenon. The study, recently published in the American Marketing Association's Journal of Marketing Research, and in Columbia Business School's Ideas at Work, reveals how under certain conditions, consumers actually complicate their choices and bolster inferior options. Specifically, when an important decision seems too easy, consumers artificially reconstruct their preferences in a manner that increases choice conflict. The researchers conclude that when it comes to big decisions, people try to achieve a match between the expected effort of making a choice and the effort they think they should make in order to reach the decision. They term this the "effort compatibility principle".
In a series of experiments, the researchers hypothesize and empirically demonstrate that, under predictable conditions, consumers construct an effortful and deliberative decision even if such a process is unnecessary. They term this phenomena "complicating choice". The three primary studies depict different ways that the subjects complicated the choices they were trying to make – the three patterns of flawed thinking were classified as "making the unimportant important", "reversing the preferences for attribute levels", and "converging overall preferences for the products". All of these studies reflect the impact of the effort compatibility principle in decision-making. This research has received several awards, including: Best Competitive Paper Award, Society for Consumer Psychology (SCP), Winter Conference, 2010; Honorable mention in the 2011 AMA/Howard Dissertation Competition; and Honorable mention in the 2011 Mary Kay Doctoral Dissertation Competition. The study stems from Professor Schrift's dissertation at Columbia Business School, and Professors Kievtz and Netzer guided him throughout his dissertation process.
In the first study, subjects initially rated availability for home visits as the least important consideration when choosing a doctor compared to the availability of evening and weekend appointments or shorter wait times for appointments. When presented with the more "difficult" choice between two doctors, which traded off the two important aspects of wait times and evening and weekend appointments, subjects barely considered home visits in the their decision. But when offered a seemingly easy choice between a doctor who had a 10-day waiting period for an appointment and no evening or weekend hours and a doctor who had only a three-day wait for appointments and also offered evening and weekend hours but had no home visits — arguably the superior choice — subjects suddenly weighted the attribute of whether or not that doctor offered home visits as much more important.
Professor Netzer explained how these studies depict how non-essential attributes of an option suddenly gain in importance, "If my top choice college is a three-hour flight from my hometown while my third choice is only a two-hour flight, that one-hour difference shouldn't sway me," Netzer explains. "But often, it suddenly becomes a big issue. We tend to inflate the importance of unimportant attributes."
In the second study the authors show that when the decision is of greater consequence, subjects artificially make the decision harder on themselves. "A choice that initially seemed easy because it was not of great consequence suddenly becomes more difficult when imbued with greater consequence," Professor Ran Kivetz explains. "Different options appear more similar than they did before."
In the last study, the researchers presented subjects with two job offers, one with a better salary and an easier commute, the other with a somewhat lower salary and a longer commute. The third aspect of the job included working on a three- or six-person team. When asked to choose between the alternatives, subjects changed their preference for the team size in order to make the inferior job offer appear more attractive. That is, when the inferior alternative offered working on a three-person team, subjects showed higher preference for working on a three-person team. However, this preference reversed when the inferior alternative offered working with six team members: subjects changed their preference for the number of team members to work with in order to make the inferior job offer (which they eventually did not choose) appear more attractive, thus complicating their choice. Further, such relatively unimportant attributes can influence subsequent decisions: when subjects were later asked to choose between two jobs that were far more similar in salary and commute, they were more likely to choose the team size linked to their previous, inferior choice. "Once we start complicating the decision, our focus and preferences shift," Professor Rom Schrift explains. "Therefore, we may end up choosing an option that merely appears to be better, just because we complicated our choice.
Complicating behavior in a variety of situations, such as selecting a new home or job, could lead to lost opportunities. Marketers and other influencers can explore ways to help consumers overcome the need for "effort regulation". For example, in decisions that involve sequential presentation of alternatives (e.g., buying a house using a real estate agent), the order in which the alternatives are presented may trigger simplifying or complicating behavior, which may influence the option that is eventually selected.o

Friday, July 8, 2011

JWT Social Commerce Trend Report

Social Commerce” examines three trends: the rise of Facebook commerce (retailers selling directly on Facebook), overlaying the social graph on e-commerce sites and introducing that social graph to the brick-and-mortar world. We look at what innovative retailers and others are doing in these areas, as well as what’s driving each trend and the significance and potential for marketers. The report also spotlights things to watch in Social Commerce, from apps that enable sharing while shopping to Facebook Credits.
To download the report, click hereo

Wheel of Concept

If you are buying services from marketing consultants, consider doing it yourself :)
Click here to proceed.o

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sam W on Recession

I was asked what
I thought about
the recession.
I thought about it
and decided not
to participate

- Sam Walton