Sunday, December 15, 2013

Social Exclusion and Consumer Product Preference: Drink Pepsi to Fit in, but Fly American to Stand Out?

Social networks are commonplace in this day and age, and how we fit in may depend on anything from political affiliation, to religion, to even our own personality traits. According to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers who are okay with being rejected from a group are more likely to purchase things that set them apart from the norm. 
“We examined when and why exclusion from social networks might lead consumers to prefer distinctive products,” write authors Echo Wen Wan (University of Hong Kong), Jing Xu (Peking University), and Ying Ding (Renmin University of China).

In their research, the authors proposed that consumers who were excluded from social networks would select unique products when they felt that the cause of their exclusion was stable. In other words, when they felt like the reason for exclusion was not because of a personality flaw or something beyond their immediate control, people would interpret choosing a unique product as an extension of their distinctive personalities. 

In two different studies, consumers were either accepted or rejected into a social network or a desired brand community. In both cases, the authors found that when participants were rejected due to an unstable cause (such as a personal character flaw or a changeable company policy), they were more likely to select products already accepted within the group than choose something that set them apart from the norm. 

For brands using a popularity appeal to promote their product line, the authors’ findings offer insight into how consumers’ psychological states of belongingness influence their spending habits. “For consumers who feel excluded from a brand, using a ‘uniqueness’ appeal might elicit a more positive response than emphasizing the popularity of the product,” the authors conclude. 
Consider Pepsi’s slogan “Something for Everyone.” People feeling rejected due to their lifestyle habits might drink a Pepsi in an attempt to fit in. On the other hand, American Airlines’ “Something Special in the Air” campaign might work well for people who have recently broken up with their girlfriend or boyfriend. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Researchers Create Brand Associations by Mining Millions of Images From Social Media

The images people share on social media — photos of favorite products and places, or of themselves at bars, sporting events and weddings — could be valuable to marketers assessing their customers' "top-of-mind" attitudes toward a brand. Carnegie Mellon University researchers have taken a first step toward this capability in a new study in which they analyzed five million such images.
Eric Xing, associate professor of machine learning, computer science and language technologies, and Gunhee Kim, then a Ph.D. student in computer science, looked at images associated with 48 brands in four categories — sports, luxury, beer and fast food. The images were obtained through popular photo sharing sites such as Pinterest and Flickr.
Their automated process unsurprisingly produced clusters of photos that are typical of certain brands — watch images with Rolex, tartan plaid with Burberry. But some of the highly ranked associations underscored the type of information particularly associated with images and especially with images from social media sites.
For instance, clusters for Rolex included images of horse-riding and auto-racing events, which were sponsored by the watchmaker. Many wedding clusters were highly associated with the French fashion house of Louis Vuitton. Both instances, Kim noted, are events where people tend to take and share lots of photos, each of which is an opportunity to show brands in the context in which they are used and experienced.
Marketers are always trying to get inside the head of customers to find out what a brand name causes them to think or feel. What does "Nike" bring to mind? Tiger Woods? Shoes? Basketball? Questionnaires have long been used to gather this information but, with the advent of online communities, more emphasis is being placed on analyzing texts that people post to social media.
"Now, the question is whether we can leverage the billions of online photos that people have uploaded," said Kim, who joined Disney Research Pittsburgh after completing his Ph.D. earlier this year. Digital cameras and smartphones have made it easy for people to snap and share photos from their daily lives, many of which relate in some way to one brand or another.
"Our work is the first attempt to perform such photo-based association analysis," Kim said. "We cannot completely replace text-based analysis, but already we have shown this method can provide information that complements existing brand associations."
Kim and Xing obtained photos that people had shared and had tagged with one of 48 brand names. They developed a method for analyzing the overall appearance of the photos and clustering similar appearing images together, providing core visual concepts associated with each brand. They also developed an algorithm that would then isolate the portion of the image associated with the brand, such as identifying a Burger King sign along a highway, or adidas apparel worn by someone in a photo.
Kim emphasized that this work represents just the first step toward mining marketing data from images. But it also suggests some new directions and some additional applications of computer vision in electronic commerce. For instance, it may be possible to generate keywords from images people have posted and use those keywords to direct relevant advertisements to that individual, in much the same way sponsored search now does with text queries.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Big Box Could Combat Online Retailers

Big box retailers may have had the secret to combatting online retailers all along: instant gratification. A new study from Columbia Business School that is published in the Journal of Consumer Research warns that the positive feelings consumers experience when receiving a discounted price fades dramatically if the consumer is then forced to wait for the product.
“This might spell trouble for online retailers like Amazon that offer discounted items and then force consumers to wait for the product,” said Columbia Business School’s Associate Professor of Marketing Leonard Lee, who performed the research with Rotman School of Management’s Associate Professor of Marketing Claire Tsai. “Our research shows that even if the wait is relatively short — as little as 15 minutes — the consumer’s enjoyment of the product decreases dramatically.”
Lee continued: “Keeping in mind that instant gratification has become a hallmark of society, brick and mortar businesses can add value to their bottom lines by offering in–store promotions on the products they know people want to experience immediately rather than waiting for delivery. This is a key competitive advantage they could have over online retailers and one that might secure their long–term survival in an expanding online marketplace.”
The research titled, “How Price Promotions Influence Post–Purchase Consumption Experience Over Time,” defies long–standing conventional wisdom that discounts cause consumers to enjoy products even more.
Lee and Tsai conducted four experiments across a variety of hedonic products to explore the consumer’s relationship between consumption and enjoyment. Lee and his research partner found that the shopping nirvana one feels for a product after they have received a discount only happens when the product is consumed immediately after it is paid for.
One experiment asked participants to purchase orange juice. All of the participants were told that the juice had the same retail price, but half of the participants received a 50 percent discount while the other half paid the full retail price. Then, half of the participants — regardless of whether they received a discount or not — drank the juice as soon as it was paid for, while the other half waited 15 minutes to consume the juice. The researchers found that when participants who had received a discount consumed the juice immediately, the experience was significantly amplified. However, when participants who had received a discount were forced to wait 15 minutes or longer, reviews of the juice were far less favorable than by those who were allowed to consume it immediately. In fact, when asked if consumers would purchase the juice in the future, those who waited said they would be less likely to purchase the item down the line.
Similar discoveries occurred when consumers were shopping for music. In a separate experiment, consumers who had to wait to download their discounted music enjoyed the music less than those who were able to download the music immediately.
“If you consider the consumer relationship from a long–term standpoint, in terms of customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, marketers in big box stores might want to pay more attention to the instant gratification factor because this is something no online retailer can provide at this time.”

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Semantics Behind the Sale Price: When Does the "Original" Price Matter?

Consumers love a sale. In fact, when asked what makes a sale appealing, most simply say, “The price was good.” But this answer fails to acknowledge that subjective factors also contribute to the perceived value of a deal. According to new research published in the  Journal of Consumer Research, it’s possible to increase the perception of a good deal.  
“We find that the more a consumer relies on the original price when trying to determine a product’s worth, the more valuable they perceive the deal to be,” write authors Christina Kan, Donald R. Lichtenstein (both University of Colorado), Susan Jung Grant (Boston University), and Chris Janiszewski (University of Florida). “If a retailer can get a consumer to pay more attention to a $179 original list price, and less attention to a $99 sale price, when assessing the worth of a winter jacket, then the $99 sale price will seem like a better deal.” 
The study research summarizes three situations in which list prices have more influence on the estimated worth of a product and, by extension, the perceived value of the deal. In three different experiments, the authors reveal that when a consumer focuses on competing product similarities, they are more likely to consider all of the available information when judging the worth of a product. That is, both the original list price and the sale price are used to determine the perceived worth of the product. In contrast, when a consumer focuses on product dissimilarities, the consumer is more likely to consider only the sale price when determining the subjective value of the product. 

“This research provides insights for both retailers and consumers. Retailers can make a sales event more effective by encouraging the consumer to rely on the original price when assessing both the value of the product and the value of the deal. Additionally, by comparing product prices at competing retailers, consumers can lessen the impact of the original price on their assessment of the products’ overall worth,” the authors conclude. o

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Don't Overwhelm Consumers with Too Many Images

If presented with looking at an image or reading a paragraph describing the same product, consumers often prefer the visual option. However, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, visual presentation can lead to information overload and result in less systematic consideration especially when making a purchasing decision. 

“Consumers prefer product information that is presented visually in pictures rather than verbally in words. Visual presentation feels easier and faster to process, and with visual depiction consumers perceive more variety in their selection,” write authors Claudia Townsend (University of Miami) and Barbara E. Kahn (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania). 
The authors studied how consumers process visual information in both small and large groups of images. Their experiments used eye-tracking software to identify whether the participants processed the image groupings in a more random pattern or in a more systematic, left to right, approach similar to reading. 
The results demonstrated that while people claim to prefer visual depictions, there are choice situations in which they should take more time to process the information more deeply. The authors also determined that small image sets are key to reducing visual overload, the less systematic processing of information resulting in a negative influence on perceptual and behavioral consequences. 
An example of visual overload is in mobile apps, which heavily favor graphics in the user interface. The use of too much imagery can unintentionally lead consumers to bypass the point of purchase. 

“While visual images are fun, there may be a tendency to gloss over them rather than make a purchase,” the authors conclude. “At the point of actual consideration for purchase, a text-based interface should cause consumers to slow down, review each option more carefully, and be less likely to opt out of the choice.” o

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The SoDA Report Vol 2, 2013


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why Do Discounts Backfire When You Make Consumers Wait?

Consumers like to reap the benefits of discounts immediately (not
later), according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Consumers enjoy discounted products much less if they have to wait for them.

“Price promotions are common in the marketplace. For consumers, these promotions translate into real economic savings, guide buying decisions, encourage trial of new products, and make consumers feel smart and good about themselves,” write authors Leonard Lee (Columbia University) and Claire I. Tsai (University of Toronto). But sometimes discounts backfire, especially if consumers need to wait to enjoy the product.
The authors examined how discounts influence pleasure-related consumption experiences. They found that discounts generally make consumers happier. But they also found that paying a lower price for a product reduces the need to justify the expenditure, which causes people to pay less attention during consumption, dampening enjoyment. The relative strength of these opposing forces depends on when the product is consumed after payment—right away or after a delay.
The authors conducted four experiments involving real spending and consumption, using a variety of products (chocolates, music, orange juice) and different durations of consumption delay. In one of the experiments, participants purchased one of two types of chocolate truffles at either the regular price of $1 or a discount of 50 cents. Half of the participants consumed the chocolate right away, and the other half waited for a week before consuming the chocolate. Consumers enjoyed the chocolate less when they had to wait a week.
“Our research provides new insight for better understanding the mixed effects of discounts on sales and loyalty, offering an explanation for why discounts may increase sales in the short run, but could have negative long-term effects on customer satisfaction and brand loyalty,” the authors conclude. 

How Do Consumers See a Product When They Hear Music?

Shoppers are more likely to buy a product from a different location when a pleasant sound coming from a particular direction draws attention to the item, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Suppose that you are standing in a supermarket aisle, choosing between two packets of cookies, one placed nearer your right side and the other nearer your left. While you are deciding, you hear an in-store announcement from your left, about store closing hours,” write authors Hao Shen (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Jaideep Sengupta (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology). “Will this announcement, which is quite irrelevant to the relative merits of the two packets of cookies, influence your decision?”
In the example above, most consumers would choose the cookies on the left because consumers find it easier to visually process a product when it is presented in the same spatial direction as the auditory signal, and people tend to like things they find easy to process.
In one lab study, consumers were asked to form an impression of pictures of two hotel rooms on a computer screen, one of which was at the right of the screen and the other at the left, while listening to a news bulletin from a speaker placed on either side. Consumers found it easier to process the picture of hotel room located in the direction of the news and also indicated a greater preference for that room. In another study, consumers were more likely to choose soft drinks from a vending machine that broadcast a local news bulletin.
But things get a little more complicated if the signal is one we wish to avoid, like an unpleasant noise. In that case, people first turn their attention to the unpleasant noise in order to decipher the signal. Then avoidance kicks in as they voluntarily turn their attention away from the unpleasant signal.
In another set of studies, consumers examined pictures of two restaurants while listening to either annoying or pleasant music that came from their left or right side. The music was played for either a very short time (20 seconds) or a relatively long one (1.5 minutes). “The predicted impairment effect was observed when the unpleasant music was played for a longer time—now, it was the picture in the direction away from the music that was preferred,” the authors conclude. 

VIP Loyalty Programs: Consumers Prefer Awards They Can Share

Consumers appreciate being able to share their perks with others, and will sacrifice exclusivity to do so, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Companies spend billions of dollars each year on customer loyalty or VIP programs in an effort to reward loyal customers and make them feel both special and a sense of status,” write authors Brent McFerran (University of Michigan) and Jennifer J. Argo (University of Alberta). Many loyalty programs, like airline lounges, luxury boxes, and hotel rooms extend benefits to guests of the VIP, or “an entourage.”
“These entourage members have typically done nothing to earn the preferential treatment, and may potentially dilute the prestige of the services, because the perks are extended to people merely on the basis of who they know,” the authors explain. “In other words, entourage members receive undeserved perks, and these people make VIP rewards less scarce.”
The authors wondered whether extending the preferential treatment to the entourage dilutes the prestige of rewards programs. Across six studies, they found that loyalty program members value the ability to share an experience with their guests. Most surprisingly, they are willing to trade the scarce nature of preferential treatment in order to do so. For example, in one study, consumers imagined attending a dinner party with a political figure of their choice. The bigger the entourage, the more the feeling of status increased.
In another study, consumers were invited up to a luxury box during a professional football game. Those who had an entourage with them felt a higher degree of status. Finally, they showed that feelings of social connection underlie the effect. An entourage makes one feel socially connected, and these feelings of connectedness with others make consumers feel a sense of personal status.
“Scarcity and value are strongly linked. What we found most interesting was not just that people want to bring guests, but that they were willing to trade off scarcity of rewards in order to do so,” the authors write. “People are willing to trade rare rewards for more common ones, if they get to share these experiences with their friends.” 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

People place higher value on what they’re waiting for; higher value makes them more patient

Let’s face it – no one likes to wait. We’re a culture of instant gratification. But what if the very act we dislike can actually help make us more patient and help us make better financial decisions?
According to a recent study by Ayelet Fishbach, Jeffrey Breakenridge Keller Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, waiting actually does make people more patient, which can provide a payoff for consumers by helping them make better decisions.
Historically, research on patience has been approached by offering people the choice between a smaller reward sooner or a larger reward later. Given the choice between $10 now or $15 later, for instance, many people choose the $10 now, even though it makes them less well-off financially.
“People tend to value things more in the present and discount their worth in the future,” Fishbach says. “But my research suggests that making people wait to make a decision can improve their patience because the process of waiting makes the reward for waiting seem more valuable.”
Co-authored with former Chicago Booth postdoctoral fellow Xiani Dai, the study, titled “When Waiting to Choose Increases Patience,” was published in a recent edition of the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
To test their hypothesis, the two researchers conducted a series of experiments in the U.S., mainland China and Hong Kong. In one study, the researchers invited participants to sign up to join a subject pool for online studies. In exchange for signing up, all participants were invited to enter one of two lotteries: one would pay out a $50 prize sooner; the other would pay out a $55 prize later.
The participants were divided into three groups, each having to wait a different amount of time before given their potential prize: the first group was told they could win $50 in three days or $55 in 23 days; the second could win $50 in 30 days or $55 in 50 days; and the third group was told they could win $50 in 30 days or $55 in 50 days, but they had to wait before choosing a potential reward.
Researchers contacted members of the third group 27 days later to ask for a decision, at which point the participants, like those in the first group, had to choose between waiting three days or 23 days to potentially receive a prize.
Fishbach and Dai found that in the first group only 31 percent of participants chose to wait for the larger reward. In the second group, that number rose to 56 percent. But among people in the third group, who had been waiting several weeks to make their choice, 86 percent chose to wait for the larger reward. Even though they were making the same choice as people in the first group ($50 in three days or $55 in 23 days), the fact that they had been waiting to choose increased their patience.
“When people wait, it makes them place a higher value on what they're waiting for, and that higher value makes them more patient,” Fishbach says. “They see more value in what they are waiting for because of a process psychologists call self-perception—we learn what we want and prefer by assessing our own behavior, much the same way we learn about others by observing how they behave.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Warning of Potential Side Effects of a Product Can Increase Its Sales

Drug ads often warn of serious side effects, from nausea and bleeding to blindness, even death. New research suggests that, rather than scaring consumers away, these warnings can improve consumers’ opinions and increase product sales when there is a delay between seeing the ad and deciding to buy or consume the product.
“Messages that warn consumers about potentially harmful side effects — presumably with the intent to nudge them to act more cautiously — can ironically backfire,” says psychological scientist Ziv Carmon of INSEAD in Singapore.
Working with Yael Steinhart of Tel Aviv University and Yaacov Trope at New York University, Carmon has been exploring how adding a warning of potential side effects can impact consumer decision making. Their new findings are published in the September 2013 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“We were struck by just how detailed, clear, and scary many warnings had become with regard to potential negative side effects of products,” says Carmon.  “It then occurred to us that such warnings might perversely boost rather than detract from the appeal of the risky product.”
Carmon and colleagues tested their hypothesis in four experiments. In one experiment, for example, smokers saw an ad for a brand of cigarettes: One version of the ad included a warning that smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema, while another version did not include the warning.
Predictably, participants who had the opportunity to purchase the cigarettes soon after seeing the ad bought less if the ad they saw included the warning.
In contrast, participants who were given the opportunity to purchase the cigarettes a few days later bought moreif the ad included the warning. The same outcome emerged when the researchers ran a similar experiment with ads for artificial sweeteners.
According to Carmon and his colleagues, the warnings backfired because the psychological distance created by the delay between exposure to the ad and the decision to buy made the side effects seem abstract—participants came to see the warning as an indication of the firm’s honesty and trustworthiness.
In fact, participants evaluated drugs for erectile dysfunction and hair loss that had potentially serious side effects more favorably, and as more trustworthy, when they were told the products weren’t on the shelves yet.
While conventional wisdom suggests that explicit warnings about dangerous side effect will make people think twice before taking medical risks, these findings suggest otherwise. The researchers believe that their findings are important because these kinds of warnings are so ubiquitous, accompanying many different products or services beyond medications, including medical procedures, financial investments, and sporting activities.
Given how frequently we are exposed to such warnings, Carmon hopes to bring greater attention to their potential to backfire.
“This effect may fly under the radar since people who try to protect the public — regulatory agencies, for example — tend to test the impact of a warning shortly after consumers are exposed to it,” says Carmon. “By doing so, they miss out on this worrisome delayed outcome.”

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Report: Digital Shopper Relevancy


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How Do Consumers Compare Prices? It Depends on How Powerful They Feel

Your reaction to the price on a bottle of wine or another product is partly a response to how powerful you feel, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“The degree to which one feels powerful influences which type of price comparison threatens their sense of self-importance and, in turn, affects the perception of price unfairness,” write authors Liyin Jin, Yanqun He (both Fudan University), and Ying Zhang (University of Texas, Austin).
Variations in price are common in today’s market, the authors explain, but companies risk consumers’ wrath when those customers perceive unfairness. According to the authors, consumers have two main ways of evaluating the fairness of a price: they compare with what they’ve paid for the same item in the past (self-comparison) or they ask how the price compares with what other customers are paying (other-comparison). The authors looked at the ways consumers’ self-perceptions affected their reactions to the two kinds of comparisons.
In one study, the authors found that participants who felt powerful experienced more unfairness when it appeared that they were paying more than others. But people who did not feel powerful experienced more unfairness when they used self-comparisons. The study also revealed that “high-power” participants were more likely to get angry about unfairness and indicated they were more likely to complain about the perceived unfairness. Meanwhile the “low-power” individuals were more likely to feel sad and to use tactics to avoid thinking about the unfair price.
“Our findings suggest important ways that marketing professionals can engage customers of different power statuses,” the authors write. “For example, when marketing to high-power customers, one can better elicit preference by highlighting the special treatment that they are receiving in relation to other customers. Conversely, when the target customers are relatively low in power, loyalty may be better cultivated by highlighting the consistency in service or the level of commitment to these customers.” 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Mobile Marketing - No Longer Spam & Pop-up World

Mobile Marketing: No Longer a Spam & Pop-up World
Image compliments of Top Marketing Schoolso

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wearing high heels can change the way you shop

When shopping for a big ticket item, such as a television, there is a checklist of things you should always do:
  1. Read reviews
  2. Compare prices
  3. Wear high heels
If you’re uncomfortable with No. 3, you have other options. You can ride up and down the escalator, play a few games using the Wii Fit, or just go shopping immediately following your yoga class.
A new BYU study finds that consumers experiencing a heightened sense of balance are more likely to weigh the options and go with a product that falls in the middle of the high-end, low-end scale.
“If you’re someone who tends to overspend, or you’re kind of an extreme person, then maybe you ought to consider shopping in high heels,” said study author Jeffrey Larson, a BYU marketing professor.
Larson and BYU coauthor Darron Billeter have discovered that most anything that forces your mind to focus on balance affects your shopping choices as well.
In the example of the TV, balancing consumers are more likely to go with the 42-inch TV for $450 rather than the $300 32-inch set or the 50-inch screen for $650.
The study is part of an emerging area of research that examines the relationship between physical sensations and decision making. Previous studies have looked at the role of warmth, weight and hunger.
For their study, appearing in the current issue of the Journal of Marketing Research, the Marriott School authors set up experiments where balance was introduced to the consumer experience, including:
  • Leaning back on a chair while shopping online
  • Playing a Wii Fit game while simultaneously answering questions about product choices
  • Standing on one foot while considering which printer to purchase
Other elements that could have similar effects but were not included in the experiments include making purchase decisions while on a cruise ship or walking on icy sidewalks during winter shopping.
The authors say the most important takeaway from their study is that people should be aware of how physical forces can change the way we think about things.
“We need to sit back for a minute and consider, ‘Is this really what I want, or are the shoes I’m wearing influencing my choice?’” Billeter said. “We need to be more aware of what is influencing our choices.”
The results of the study, the authors write, demonstrate that influential cognitive processes are at play as people stumble through life, regardless of whether those stumblings are literal or metaphorical.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

When Do Consumers Think a Freebie Is More Valuable than a Discounted Product?

Consumers may value a free gift more than a deeply discounted promotional item, especially if it comes from a prestigious brand, according to a new study in
the Journal of Consumer Research.

“Since consumers believe the value of a free product is likely to be consistent with the value of the purchased product, pairing a free product with a high-end product may very well increase perceptions of its value,” write authors Mauricio M. Palmeira (Monash University) and Joydeep Srivastava (University of Maryland).
These days, companies often offer bonus products for free or at a low discounted price with a required purchase. For example, high-end cosmetics companies like Lancôme or Clinique offer free gifts with the purchase of a full-priced product.
In one study, participants were offered a free or discounted package of spaghetti with the purchase of a jar of organic tomato sauce for $8.95. They were then asked how much they would pay for the spaghetti individually. People offered free spaghetti were willing to pay an average of $2.95 for it, but those offered the spaghetti for $.50 were only willing to pay an average of $1.83.
When a free product is paired with an expensive product, consumers assume it is worth more than if it was offered at a low discounted price. For example, if a luxury jeweler offers a free bottle of wine with a purchase, consumers assume it isn’t cheap. But, according to the authors, customers might assume the same wine is cheaper if the jeweler offers it for $1.
“Promotions with low discounted prices devalue products more than free offers. In fact, free offers may not devalue products at all when they are paired with an expensive purchase, as consumers will use the price of the focal product to estimate the value of the supplementary product,” the authors conclude. “If Mercedes-Benz promotes a car with a free GPS system, we expect the GPS to be high quality,” the authors explain. 

Low Self-Esteem Consumers: When Does Standing Out Help You Fit In?

Consumers who buy brands to stand out may actually be trying to fit in, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Our research suggests that seeking differentiation via brands may actually be another tactic to achieve belongingness,” write authors Sara Loughran Dommer (Georgia Institute of Technology), Vanitha Swaminathan (University of Pittsburgh), and Rohini Ahluwalia (University of Minnesota).
The authors explored how and why consumers use brands to stand out within a group. For example, certain brands can help consumers feel like they belong, like a college tennis player who wears Nike to display allegiance to her team. But consumers also use brands to distinguish themselves. The same player might also wear Lacoste to feel superior to her team or Converse to show her distinctive personality.
In a series of studies, the authors found that consumers with low self-esteem work extra hard to distinguish themselves within a group when they feel excluded. They do this by seeking brands that create distinction from typical members of the group based on personality, taste, traits, etc. However, when consumers with low self- esteem feel included, they still seek to distinguish themselves by seeking brands that confer status or demonstrate superiority to others in the group.
Companies often celebrate individuality in their advertising slogans—for example, “Think Different” (Apple), “Off the Wall” (Vans), and “Unlike Any Other” (Mercedes-Benz). According to the authors, companies can utilize strategies to help consumers feel like they fit in. “Brand names that address consumers’ belongingness needs by creating brand communities and engaging in social media (e.g., a Facebook page) may satiate consumers’ need for belongingness while also counterintuitively enhancing certain consumers’ (i.e., low self-esteem consumers) desire to differentiate,” the authors write.
“Companies should understand how their efforts may affect consumer belongingness or differentiation needs and how branding strategies based on differentiation can appeal to various types of consumers,” the authors conclude. 

The Blushing Shopper: Does It Matter What Else You Put in the Basket with the Anti-Gas Medication?

“Shopping basket composition can determine how consumers feel when purchasing embarrassing products. Contrary to conventional wisdom, additional purchases don’t always reduce embarrassment but may worsen it instead,” write authors Sean Blair and Neal J. Roese (both Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University). “And when additional products do reduce embarrassment, it’s not just because they hide the embarrassing product.”
Suppose a consumer needs to buy something embarrassing like a package of anti- gas medication or foot deodorant. He might start thinking about how other shoppers will react to the purchase and try to deflect attention from the product by buying something else. However, this strategy could backfire—or even make him feel more embarrassed if he chooses something that inadvertently reinforces the impression he wants to avoid.
In one study, the authors asked people how embarrassed they would feel if they were purchasing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Improving Your IQ. Half of the participants were purchasing only the book, but the remaining half were told they were also purchasing an issue of Scientific American and a Rubik’s cube. The results showed that the additional products made participants feel less embarrassed, but not because they hid the embarrassing book. “People felt less embarrassed because they thought the intelligent products would compensate for the book, essentially ‘canceling out’ the unintelligent impression,” the authors write. A follow-up study showed that the more people believed the additional products would balance against the embarrassing book, the more effective the products were at reducing embarrassment.
“Consumers tend to think about the products they buy holistically rather than individually, and a product’s meaning can change depending on what else is being purchased at the same time. An additional purchase can either attenuate or exacerbate embarrassment depending on whether it counterbalances or complements the embarrassing product,” the authors conclude.

Friday, August 16, 2013

People Prefer Products That Help Them ‘Save Face’ in Embarrassing Moments

People who are feeling embarrassed are more likely to choose items that hide or ‘repair’ the face, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The research indicates that feelings of embarrassment can be alleviated by using so-called ‘restorative’ products — effectively helping people to “save face.”
“Previous research on embarrassment mainly documents that embarrassed individuals are motivated to avoid public exposure,” explains Ping Dong, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto and lead author of the new research. “However, little work has been done to examine how they could cope with embarrassment.”
Dong and colleagues Xun (Irene) Huang of Sun Yat-Sen University and Robert S. Wyer, Jr. of the Chinese University of Hong Kong hypothesized that metaphorical reasoning — the idea of “saving face” — might be one tool for coping with embarrassment, a common negative emotion.
In their first experiment, Dong and colleagues asked some participants to describe an embarrassing situation from their past, while others in the control group were simply asked to describe a typical day at school; later, all participants rated various pairs of sunglasses.
The findings showed that participants who relived their embarrassing experience tended to prefer large, darkly-tinted sunglasses. In effect, they favored the options that covered up their faces.
In another experiment, embarrassed participants expressed greater interest in sunglasses and restorative face creams — products that would conceal or cover the faces — than in scarves or shoes.
Additional research revealed that participants who actually used the “restorative” facial cream after re-experiencing an embarrassing moment reported lower embarrassment ratings, and they were more likely to seek out social interaction. Wearing sunglasses, however, did not seem to alleviate feelings of embarrassment.
“Although embarrassment leads people both to hide their face and to restore their face, only by restoring their face can their embarrassment be decreased, as evidenced in their greater desire to participate in social activities,” Dong explains. “It is interesting to speculate that people who wear cosmetics on a daily basis may be more tolerant of potentially embarrassing behavior.”
The findings highlight the unconscious influence that metaphorical thinking can have on everyday behaviors, but Dong notes that this influence may depend on cultural differences not examined in the present studies given that all participants were Hong Kong Chinese.
“The metaphorical concept of ‘hiding one’s face’ is fairly widespread, but the concepts of ‘losing face’ and ‘saving face’ are more pervasive in Asian than in Western cultures,” she observes. “Although the effects of embarrassment on symbolically hiding one’s face are likely to generalize to Western cultures, the effect of symbolically restoring one’s face might not.”
This research was supported by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Future in Store


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Empowering Your Customers? Think Twice about Social Media Campaigns

Companies that empower consumers by involving them in important processes such as product development shouldn’t also try to influence them through social media, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Peer-to-peer marketing and consumer empowerment may not be compatible. Empowered consumers resist social influence by either discounting the opinions of others or deliberately expressing opinions that diverge from those of other consumers,” write authors Mehdi Mourali (University of Calgary) and Zhiyong Yang (University of Texas, Arlington).
Empowering the consumer has become a popular business practice. For example, M&M’s, Mountain Dew, and other brands seek to empower consumers by giving them some control over product development (customers are allowed to vote on new colors, flavors, or products). At the same time, companies are increasing their attempts to influence consumers through social media.
Previous research has assumed that empowered consumers either pay no attention to the opinions of other consumers or dismiss them entirely when judging a product. However, the authors found that consumers who were made to feel empowered didn’t always just ignore the opinions of others. In fact, some empowered consumers deliberately expressed opposing views and rebelled against attempts to influence them.
Companies that succeed in empowering their customers may find it difficult to implement a successful social media campaign. Empowered consumers will either ignore or rebel against any perceived attempt to influence them.
“Many companies have embraced the concept of consumer empowerment. However, they should consider whether attempts to integrate social influence (word-of-mouth marketing, social network marketing, buzz marketing) might backfire with empowered consumers,” the authors conclude. 

Is Facebook Actually Making Communication about Products and Brands More Interesting?

Communication channels such as Facebook may be leading consumers to discuss more interesting products, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Whereas oral communication tends to be instantaneous (one person says something and then another responds almost immediately), written conversations tend to have longer gaps (consumers respond to e-mails, texts, or Facebook messages hours or days later). Rather than saying whatever comes to mind, consumers can take the time to think about what to say or edit their communication until it is polished,” write authors Jonah Berger and Raghuram Iyengar (both Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania).
New technologies have dramatically changed how we communicate. Instead of talking face-to-face or over the phone, consumers can now e-mail, text, tweet, or message back and forth on Facebook.
In one study, asking consumers to communicate via written rather than oral communication (or merely asking consumers to pause before speaking) led them to talk about more interesting products and brands. The authors also analyzed data from tens of thousands of conversations and found that more interesting products and brands (Apple) are discussed more than mundane products (Windex) in online communication.
Written communication gives consumers more time to construct and refine what they say. As a result, consumers mention more interesting products and brands (Google Glass rather than Colgate toothpaste) compared to oral communication.
“Consumers have a natural tendency to talk about things that make them look good. But selecting the right thing to say requires time. In oral communication, consumers talk about whatever is top-of-mind (the weather), but written communication gives them the opportunity to select more interesting things to say,” the authors conclude. 

From Embarrassing Facebook Posts to Controversial Tweets, Why Are Consumers Oversharing Online?

Increased use of digital communication is causing consumers to lose their inhibitions and “overshare” online, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Sharing itself is not new, but consumers now have unlimited opportunities to share their thoughts, opinions, and photos, or otherwise promote themselves and their self-image online. Digital devices help us share more, and more broadly, then ever before,” writes author Russell W. Belk (York University).
Blogging beckons us to tell all. YouTube’s slogan is “Broadcast Yourself.” Social media sites ask us “What do you have to Share?” Consumers can rate books, movies, or restaurants online and engage with other consumers on forums and on the websites of sellers like Amazon, Yelp, or IMDB. The possibilities for sharing online are endless and many of the most popular websites and smartphone apps are devoted to sharing.
This week, the media was abuzz with the news that the 70-year-old Geraldo Rivera had shared a shirtless “selfie” on Twitter. Countless celebrities, from “30 Rock” star Alec Baldwin to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace, have lived to regret controversial tweets. Meanwhile, ordinary consumers routinely post photos online of themselves nude or engaged in embarrassing activities.
While a limited number of people see our physical selves, a virtually infinite number of people may see our online representations of ourselves. Appearing literally or figuratively naked online can come back to haunt consumers in future school and job applications, promotions, and relationships.
“Due to an online disinhibition effect and a tendency to confess to far more shortcomings and errors than they would divulge face-to-face, consumers seem to disclose more and may wind up ‘oversharing’ through digital media to their eventual regret,” the author concludes. 

Why Are Consumers Less Likely to Buy a Product When It’s the Only Option?

Consumers are more likely to search for alternatives when they are given only one option, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“There has been a lot of recent attention devoted to the pitfalls of presenting consumers with too many options. However, consumers may also react negatively when choices are too restrictive. Isolating an option, even temporarily, may increase how much consumers search and potentially the likelihood that they make no purchase,” writes author Daniel Mochon (Tulane University).
Suppose a consumer really wants to buy a camera. Narrowing the selection should make it easier to choose from one of the available options. Reducing the selection to just a single camera should make it even easier, but it doesn’t. In fact, consumers may be less likely to choose a specific camera when it’s the only option.
In one study, consumers were asked to purchase a DVD player. One group was presented with a Sony DVD player, a second group was presented with a Philips DVD player, and a third group was presented with both options. Consumers were more likely to make a selection when they were presented together than when each was presented alone.
Giving consumers only one option increases their desire to search for more options. As a result, they might reject a product they would otherwise purchase. For example, a consumer shopping for a DVD player may be willing to purchase a Sony model when another option is also available, but unwilling to purchase the same Sony when it’s the only option.
“Companies should consider how options are presented to consumers. Restricting options can have lasting effects on choice. Consumers who are initially offered only one option are more likely to continue searching for alternatives even when other options are later presented,” the author concludes. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Big Data and Retail

The Big Data Revolution in Retail by marketresearchreportso

If You’re Not Looking for It, You Probably Won’t See It

If you were working on something at your computer and a gorilla floated across your computer screen, would you notice it? You would like to think yes, however, research shows that people often miss such events when engaged in a difficult task. This is a phenomenon known as inattentional blindness (IB). In a new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, researchers have found that even expert searchers, operating in their domain of expertise, are vulnerable to inattentional blindness. This study published this week Psychological Science.  
“When engaged in a demanding task, attention can act like a set of blinders, making it possible for stimuli to pass, undetected, right in front of our eyes,” explained Trafton Drew, PhD, post-doctoral researcher at BWH and lead author on this study. “We found that even experts are vulnerable to this phenomenon.” 
The researchers asked 24 radiologists to perform a familiar lung nodule detection task. They examined five scans; each scan contained an average of 10 nodules. A gorilla, 48 times larger than the average nodule, was inserted in the last scan. The researchers found that 83 percent of radiologists did not report seeing the gorilla. With the help of Melissa Le-Hoa Vo, post-doctoral researcher at BWH, the researchers tracked the eye-movements of the radiologists and found that that the majority of those who missed the gorilla looked directly at it. 
“The radiologists missed the gorillas not because they could not see them, but because the way their brains had framed what they were doing. They were looking for cancer nodules, not gorillas,” explained Jeremy Wolfe, senior psychologist and director of the Visual Attention Laboratory at BWH. “This study helps illustrate that what we become focused on becomes the center of our world, and it shapes what we can and cannot see.” 
The researchers note that it would be a mistake to regard these results as an indictment of radiologists and stress that even this high level of expertise does not immunize against inherent attentional limitations of what we perceive. The results suggest that even expert searchers typically only see what they are looking for, and are often unaware of the unexpected. The researchers hope that the results will lead more expert searchers to recognize the important role of attention in determining what the searcher will find and what they may miss. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why Do Appetizers Matter More When You’re Dining Out with Friends?

First impressions of experiences have a greater impact when consumers share the experience with others, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“When consumers consume an experience alone, the end of the experience has a greater effect on their overall evaluations. On the other hand, when consumers consume an experience with others, the beginning has a greater influence on how they judge the entire experience,” write authors Rajesh Bhargave (University of Texas, San Antonio) and Nicole Votolato Montgomery (University of Virginia).
Experiences (vacations, concerts, meals) often have multiple components that can be judged separately. For example, a consumer visiting a museum might like some paintings but dislike others, or a diner at a restaurant might love the appetizers and main course but hate dessert. How consumers judge experiences may depend on whether they are shared with others or consumed alone.
In one study, consumers viewed a series of paintings while either seated alone or with companions. One group was shown a series of paintings beginning with the “least enjoyable” painting and ending with the “most enjoyable,” while another group was shown the same paintings in the reverse order. Consumers who were seated alone preferred the series of paintings with the “most enjoyable” painting presented last, while those who viewed the paintings with companions preferred the series with the “most enjoyable” painting presented first.
The order of events in an experience can greatly influence overall enjoyment. Tour operators, museum curators, event planners, spa and resort managers, and others charged with creating consumption experiences should consider whether consumers tend to engage in the experience alone or with others.
“While consumers sometimes engage in experiences alone, they often share them with others and their overall evaluations are shaped by the social context in which they occur. Companies should consider the social context of a consumption experience, because consumers think differently and form different memories and evaluations when they feel bonded to others,” the authors conclude. 

Why Is It Easier to Lose 2-4 Pounds Rather Than 3 Pounds?

Consumers are more likely to pursue goals when they are ambitious yet flexible, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Whether a goal is a high-low range goal (lose 2 to 4 pounds this week) or a single number goal (lose 3 pounds this week) has a systematic effect on goal reengagement. High-low range goals influence consumer goal reengagement through feelings of accomplishment, which itself is driven by the attainability and challenge of the goal,” write authors Maura L. Scott (Florida State University) and Stephen M. Nowlis (Washington University in St. Louis).
Consumers often have a choice about the types of goals they want to set for themselves, and they may want to repeat various goals over time. For example, consumers often reengage goals such as losing weight, saving money, or improving their exercise or sports performance.
In one study, consumers in a weight loss program set either high-low range goals or single number goals. At the end of the program, consumers with high-low range goals reenrolled in the program at higher rates even though there was no difference in actual average weight loss across the two groups. In other studies, consumers exhibited similar behaviors with other goals such as resisting tempting foods, solving puzzles, or playing a grocery shopping game.
A high-low range goal can offer “the best of both worlds” compared to a single number goal due to its flexibility: the high end of the goal (lose 4 pounds) increases the challenge of the goal, while the low end (lose 2 pounds) increases its attainability. On the other hand, a single number goal (lose 3 pounds) may be perceived as a compromise and therefore both less challenging and less attainable.
“Consumers are more likely to pursue a goal when they set a high-low range goal instead of a single number goal. Consumers experience a greater sense of accomplishment when a goal is both attainable and challenging, and this makes them want to continue to pursue or reengage their goal,” the authors conclude. 

Consumer Choice and Product Organization

Consumers choose lower-priced products and are more satisfied with their purchase when products are organized by benefits instead of features, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“It matters whether products are organized by features or benefits. Simply changing the way the same set of products is organized impacts how consumers process information and make choices,” write authors Cait Poynor Lamberton (University of Pittsburgh) and Kristin Diehl (University of Southern California).
Consumers frequently shop for products that have been organized by both features and benefits. For example, Crest organizes toothpaste by features (pastes, gels, stripes) or benefits (whitening, flavor, sensitivity).
In one study, consumers were asked to choose from an assortment of nutrition bars organized either by benefits (muscle-building, fat-burning) or features (fruit bars, nut bars). Consumers perceived the products to be more similar (offering less variety) and therefore interchangeable when they were organized by benefits instead of features. The perception that products organized by benefits are less distinctive led consumers to focus on price and choose cheaper items.
Consumers should be aware that items organized by benefits might seem to be more similar than they actually are. By focusing solely on price, consumers may end up sacrificing quality to save money when they shouldn’t. On the other hand, consumers should also be aware that they are more likely to notice differences when products are organized by features. This can prevent them from paying more for an item when the difference doesn’t really matter.
“Companies have an almost infinite number of options in setting up their product assortments, especially online. Organizing options makes decision making easier, but the decision about how to organize also matters. As a form of choice architecture, assortment organization shouldn’t be overlooked – it can make a big difference for both consumers and companies,” the authors conclude. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to stay ahead of consumer behavior

Great article by Accenture. Download it by clicking here.o

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Popular social media site Twitter may eventually resemble a broadcast medium like television or radio, with users reading messages written by celebrities and corporations rather than writing their own “tweet” messages of up to 140 characters, suggests a new study coauthored by Andrew T. Stephen, assistant professor of business administration and Katz Fellow in Marketing in the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration.
In one of the first studies to use social media as a laboratory for social science experiments, Stephen and coauthor Olivier Toubia, the Glaubinger Professor of Business at Columbia University, questioned what motivates people to post tweets. Are Twitter users motivated by broadcasting their thoughts and opinions or, rather, by their desire to increase their social status by accumulating followers?
The results, published in the May/June issue of the peer-reviewed journalMarketing Science, provide insights into that question and have generated a surprising prediction of what the social network may operate like in the future.
To investigate the question, Stephen and Toubia identified approximately 2,500 Twitter users who were being followed by a range of other Twitter users, numbering from 13 to more than 10,000. All were noncorporate, noncelebrity users, and they were not tweeting for commercial purposes. Half the users were put into a control group, and the authors recorded daily data on the participants’ number of followers and their tweeting activity over a period of two months.
Stephen and Toubia then hired undergraduate research assistants to create 100 Twitter accounts. Following Twitter’s terms of service, the assistants added realistic-looking names and locations for these accounts, and they had the accounts follow one other as well as popular users like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. The assistants even sent out simple tweets—“It’s a pretty day today” or “The sky is blue”—to further support the illusion that the accounts were operated by real people.
Over the ensuing two months, the assistants used the new accounts to follow the users in the test group, gradually increasing each user’s list of followers by 100. The authors monitored these accounts to see how the increase in audience size affected the users’ tweeting activity.
Users who had few followers initially showed no change in their tweeting habits. Similarly, “high-end” users—those with as many as 10,000 followers—did not exhibit much change, likely because 100 additional followers was “a drop in the bucket,” Stephen said.
Among “mid-range” users, however, the authors noted significant changes in tweeting activity. “Users with 13 to 26 followers did increase activity,” said Stephen, speculating that these users were encouraged by the increase in followers to post more to a suddenly larger audience.
But users with slightly more followers—from 62 to 245—showed the opposite instinct, posting less as their followers increased. These users had already achieved some level of status, Stephen said, and wanted to preserve it by avoiding posting anything that would offend their followers. “As they get more followers,” he said, “they want to be careful about what they post.” These results indicated to the researchers that many users were more interested in gaining followers than in using Twitter to broadcast their views.
The trend of users posting less as they accumulated more followers led the authors to one of the more striking findings in the paper.
There is a natural tendency, Stephen explained, for active users to gain followers over time. Add to that the authors’ finding that users will post less as they gain followers, and it’s natural to conclude, Stephen said, that Twitter users are going to post less.
But commercial users, celebrities, and institutions like schools and sports teams, Stephen said, will continue to post information to the people who want it. “So what it becomes is another advertising channel, a broadcast medium, as opposed to a socially interactive one,” Stephen said.
Such a change is prevented, for now, by the influx of new users to the social media service. If Twitter should reach a point when no new users are signing up, the shift away from an interactive platform toward a one-way conduit for information would become more likely.
In such a scenario, Twitter would remain a viable channel for corporations, celebrities, and other high-end users to communicate with their fans, Stephen said. They might utilize their Twitter feeds the same way they use mailing lists to announce products and promotions to their followers.
“Longer term,” Stephen said, “to get value, they’ll need the people who start following them to react to these tweets and to retweet them.” But as his and Toubia’s model suggests, over time, regular users will be less likely to do so. Marketers using Twitter will be challenged to offer rewards and other incentives to engage users and counteract the tendency to tweet less, keeping the social network truly interactive.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Advertising Product Results? Put Images Closer Together

Consumers believe a product is more effective when images of the product and its desired outcome are placed closer together in advertisements, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Merely changing the spatial proximity between the image of a product and its desired effect in an advertisement influences judgment of product effectiveness. Consumers tend to judge the product to be more effective when the two images are closer versus farther apart,” write authors Boyoun (Grace) Chae (University of British Columbia), Xiuping Li (National University of Singapore), and Rui (Juliet) Zhu (University of British Columbia).
Many advertisements promoting the effectiveness of a product show both a product image (anti-wrinkle cream) and an image of the promised results (a face without wrinkles). Objectively, the distance between the two images should not affect how consumers judge the product’s quality.
In a series of studies, consumers were asked to judge the effectiveness of a variety of products promising specific results (acne cream, pain reliever, nasal allergy spray, bug spray, fabric softener). Consumers tended to assume a product was more effective when its image was placed closer to that of its promised effect. The proximity of the images was more influential when consumers were less knowledgeable about a product category or when the results were expected sooner rather than later.
Companies should understand the subtle effect that spatial proximity between images has on consumer judgment of product effectiveness. When companies want to promote the immediate effects of their products, images of the product and its desired effect should be put closer to each other in an advertisement.
“The spatial proximity between visual representations of cause and effect in an advertisement can influence consumer judgments of product effectiveness. The closer the distance between an image of a product (an acne treatment) and that of its potential effect (a smooth face), the more effective consumers will judge the product to be,” the authors conclude. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Why we love it or hate it: The 3 E's

Why do brands such as Manchester United and Apple capture hearts and minds? When consumers feel a strong emotional attachment to a brand, there is seemingly nothing we would not do–from paying more for it to defending it against detractors. For all the millions of dollars spent on advertising and other efforts, however, consumers rarely feel an affinity for brands. So how do marketers make consumers develop a strong attachment for a product or service? According to a recent study from USC Marshall School of Business, it is achieved by appealing to people's aesthetic needs (enticing/annoying to the self), functional needs (enabling/disabling for the self) and spiritual needs (whether something is enriching/impoverishing). In short, brands to which we are loyal, evoke warm feelings and provide pleasure, speak to who we are and help manage the problems we have in daily life.
"Attachment-aversion (AA) model of customer-brand relationships," published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology and co-authored by USC Marshall's C. Whan Park, Joseph A. DeBell Chair in Business Administration and professor of marketing; Andreas B. Eisingerich, associate professor of marketing, Imperial College (London) Business School; and Jason Whan Park, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, identifies three factors that must be in place in order to build strong emotional attachment to brands and, conversely, limit aversion to a product or service. Marketers who want to build emotional affinity for their brands need to appeal to consumers on three fronts: strong aesthetics or self-enticing properties such as the taste of deep chocolate or the sleek design of a European car, have self-enabling benefits or the ability to solve customer problems (such as Swiss Army Knife, which allows one to feel power over one's environment) and self-enriching benefits or those that resonate with customers' beliefs or values and support their self-identities (activated for example, by location brands such as one's hometown, a membership to nonprofit or a luxury brand such as Rolex that is aspirational). These factors, the three E's—enticement, enablement and enrichment—are critical for all brands and their interplay determines our distance to the brand: whether we are more attached or have an aversion.
"There are many cases these days where people are very adverse to certain brands. This is a serious issue," said Park. "Why people become so antagonistic toward a brand is based on these three reasons, when it displeases them aesthetically or doesn't help them solve their daily problems or is contrary to their personal beliefs."
To test their attachment-aversion model, the researchers carefully developed the four-item scale of the attachment-aversion measure and conducted three studies, assessing consumer purchasing behavior over time, based on carefully chosen products: Apple, a product brand that draws strong consumer loyalty from their compelling design and emphasis on creativity; Manchester United, a soccer franchise that tends to generate extreme reactions in Great Britain (both positive and negative); and a grocery store chain in Austria. The scholars measured attachment and aversion by looking at attitudes and actions: what consumers would do for these brands, including defending them against criticism, participating in an affiliated charity event and feeling happy (sad) when good (bad) things happened to a brand. The researchers found that their model was better able to predict consumer reactions through not only their stated future intentions, but actual purchasing behavior during the final study.
Whether a brand was self-enriching was the stronger predictor of whether there would be a small distance/attachment or a larger distance/aversion to a brand. The researchers cite the strength of Nike's "Just Do It" as an example. In addition, the researchers also found that the older consumers were more motivated by self-enriching qualities of brands versus self-enticing benefits (aesthetic appeal), while the opposite was true for younger consumers.
The study also distinguished two other attitudes towards brands that marketers need to address quite differently: the mixed (both positive and negative) perceptions of a brand and indifference. Brand managers need to focus on reducing the distance between customers and a brand, by examining how much value customers perceive from the current offering of a brand with respect to those three E's.
"Great brands simultaneously offer sensory pleasure and self-pride. Sensory pleasure comes from the self-enticing product cues (e.g., product design, package design, color, brand logo, etc.). Self-pride comes from two different sources: self-enabling benefits of a product and self-enriching message of a brand," said Park.
Self-enabling benefits provide a boost of self-efficacy and self-confidence. "That's when you feel proud of yourself—when you can deal with daily problems without difficulty and feel secure," said Park. "Self-enriching messages of a brand makes you feel good about yourself because you relate yourself to its moral values and philosophies."