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.