Thursday, December 27, 2012

2013 Trends


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rewind your 2012

The most trending videos mashup Gangnam style:


Monday, December 17, 2012

The person inside the present: Narcissists buy to big themselves up

Christmas is around the corner and many of us will be thinking of what to buy our loved ones (or ourselves) this festive holiday
But what is the psychology behind gift-giving?

Early results from research led by Dr Aiden Gregg from the University of Southampton, have shown that people with narcissistic tendencies want to purchase products, both for others and for themselves, that positively distinguish them - that is, that make them stand out from the crowd.

The study - conducted in collaboration with McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management and Hanyang University in South Korea - investigated why narcissistic consumers chose certain products and how those products made them feel. Volunteers from both the universities in South Korea or Canada took part in one of four studies.

The first study, using online questionnaires, asked participants about their consumer buying behaviour-for example, why they bought certain products and how doing so made them feel. Narcissism, rather than simple self-esteem, predicted dispositions to purchase products for the purpose of promoting personal uniqueness.

In the second study, participants were asked to imagine they had to replace their old MP3 player with an Apple iPod Touch. They had to choose one of the two free bonus options that came with it: either a special, limited edition, leather case, which could be personally engraved, or a generic iTunes gift card.

The third study had three parts. In part one, participants were asked questions about a shirt that could be customized; in part two, they had to think of and describe three personal items they owned; and in part three, they were asked questions about a watch that was described either as exclusive or as run-of-the-mill.

Both the second and third studies found that narcissism predicted greater interest in exclusive, customizable, and personalizable products. The third study also found participants who were higher in narcissism regarded their prized possessions as less likely to be owned by others - that is, as more distinctive.

The final study focused on gifts being bought for another person. Participants were shown the same watch as in the previous study. Narcissists again tended to show more interest in the product when it was portrayed as exclusive. So it looks like narcissists want people around them to be as special as they are. Further analysis also suggested that a motive to manipulate others partly lay behind narcissists' gift-giving preferences.

Dr Aiden Gregg comments: "Narcissists seek to self-enhance. One way to do so is by buying products for symbolic as well as material reasons - for what they mean as well as what they do.

"Our early results show that narcissists' interest in consumer products, whether bought for themselves or for others, is strongly driven by the power of those products to positively distinguish them. Narcissists feel better about themselves because they think they have succeeded in individualising or elevating themselves."

Friday, December 14, 2012

A better online retail experience

Usher Lieberman: Leveraging Social Data from Piers Fawkes on Vimeo.o

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why Do Consumers Prefer Familiar Products?

Consumers are more likely to purchase a product if they have previously focused their attention on it but are less likely to purchase a product they have previously ignored, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“It’s generally assumed that consumers will choose products that provide the greatest value. But prior consideration of a product makes it easier to process the product when it’s encountered later and this influences whether or not consumers like the product, regardless of the benefits it provides. The act of attending to a product increases the likelihood the product will be purchased in the future while not attending to a product decreases the likelihood,” write authors Chris Janiszewski (University of Florida), Andrew Kuo (Louisiana State University), and Nader Tavassoli (London Business School).
In an experiment involving various unfamiliar brands of soda, cheese, shampoo, and chocolate, consumers were asked to locate a specific brand in a display of two competing brands. This was repeated for many pairs of brands, with some serving as “selected brands” and others serving as “neglected brands.” Others appeared by themselves as “neutral brands” that were neither selected nor rejected. When these consumers were later asked to choose between a selected brand and a neutral brand or between a neglected brand and a neutral brand, they preferred the previously selected brand to the neutral brand, but also preferred the neutral brand to the previously neglected brand.
Situations where selective attention to a product might be arbitrary create opportunities for companies to influence consumers and gain long-term advantage by drawing their attention through coupons, banner advertising, or packaging that stands out in a visually complex shopping environment.
“Every time a consumer searches for a product in a shelf display, the immediately adjacent products receive inattention. This will happen more frequently in high turn-over product categories. Thus, the inattention that accompanies the selective attention to frequently purchased products has the potential to influence future consideration of neglected products,” the authors conclude. 

Eating or Spending Too Much? Blame It on Facebook

Participating in online social networks can have a detrimental effect on consumer well-being by lowering self-control among certain users, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Using online social networks can have a positive effect on self-esteem and well- being. However, these increased feelings of self-worth can have a detrimental effect on behavior. Because consumers care about the image they present to close friends, social network use enhances self-esteem in users who are focused on close friends while browsing their social network. This momentary increase in self-esteem leads them to display less self-control after browsing a social network,” write authors Keith Wilcox (Columbia University) and Andrew T. Stephen (University of Pittsburgh).
Online social networks are having a fundamental impact on society. Facebook, the largest, has over one billion active users. Does using a social network impact the choices consumers make in their daily lives? If so, what effect does it have on consumer well-being?
A series of interesting studies showed that Facebook usage lowers self-control for consumers who focus on close friends while browsing their social network. Specifically, consumers focused on close friends are more likely to choose an unhealthy snack after browsing Facebook due to enhanced self-esteem. Greater Facebook use was associated with a higher body-mass index, increased binge eating, a lower credit score, and higher levels of credit card debt for consumers with many close friends in their social network.
“These results are concerning given the increased time people spend using social networks, as well as the worldwide proliferation of access to social networks anywhere anytime via smartphones and other gadgets. Given that self-control is important for maintaining social order and personal well-being, this subtle effect could have widespread impact. This is particularly true for adolescents and young adults who are the heaviest users of social networks and have grown up using social networks as a normal part of their daily lives,” the authors conclude. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Shoppers are drawn to centrally placed products

Rows of new toys, endless racks of sweaters on clothing store shelves, long lines of books arranged in the bestsellers section at the bookstore. From mall displays to boutique exhibits, long lines of horizontally arranged products are the norm when it comes to the holiday shopping experience. 
But how does a product’s placement on the storeroom shelf influence which one a consumer ultimately chooses? It turns out that the shopper’s eye has a very central focus.  
“Consumers are more likely to purchase products placed in the middle of a display – without even being aware of it,” says Onur Bodur. The associate professor from Concordia’s John Molson School of Business is co-author of a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research, along with marketing researchers at HEC in France and the Aston Business School in England.
Using eye-tracking devices, Bodur and his colleagues investigated how location influences choices for a variety of products, including cosmetics and food items. 
They found that consumers would increase their visual focus on the central option in a product display area in the final five seconds of the decision-making process – and that was the point at which they determined which option to choose. 
It turns out that the process is a subconscious one. When asked how they had come to choose which product to buy, consumers did not accurately recall their reasons for their decision. What’s more, they were not aware of any conscious visual focus on one area of the display over another.
What does uncovering these unconscious habits mean for the average shopper? Greater awareness of buying behaviours should lead to more informed choices. Says Bodur, “by using this newfound knowledge that visual attention is naturally drawn to the center of a display, consumers can consciously train themselves to make a more thorough visual scan of what’s on offer.” 
When it comes to holiday shopping, the visual equivalent to thinking outside of the box just might lead to savvier selections. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Retail Zombies


Monday, December 3, 2012

Consumers Develop Complex Relationships with Celebrities to Construct Identity

Marketers and advertisers know celebrities influence consumers’ purchasing decisions, but a new study by a marketing researcher at the University of Arkansas and her colleague in the United Kingdom suggests that consumers take an active role in using celebrities to help them build their own identities and self-images, rather than merely passively receiving meanings and messages from celebrities and incorporating them into their lives.
“Our primary interest is what consumers do with celebrity and the roles celebrity interactions play in consumer identity construction,” said Hayley Cocker, visiting professor in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. “Of course, we’re talking about the cultural messages and meanings provided by celebrities, not literal relationships. Rather than a passive, top-down model in which celebrities use their marketing power to pass on cultural meanings to consumers, we found that consumers actually flit between different and often fragmented identities passed along to them by celebrities.”
To gain a better understanding of the dynamic between consumers and celebrities, Cocker and Emma Banister, lecturer at Manchester Business School in the United Kingdom, interviewed 11 young adults – six women and five men, all British and between the ages of 18 and 24. Cocker and Banister asked questions about the influence of celebrities in the subjects’ efforts to build their identities. To demonstrate the relevance of celebrities in the everyday lives of ordinary young-adult consumers, the researchers chose subjects who experience a range of feelings toward celebrities.
The researchers found that rather than a single message passed down from celebrity to passive consumer, a range of consumer-celebrity relationships conspires to allow consumers to form a personal identity that matches who they want to be. In effect, the various meanings and messages displayed by celebrities help consumers develop a portfolio of relationships that allow them to function as creators of meaning for themselves. Cocker describes the complex combination of these different and sometimes fragmented relationships as “celebrityscapes” or “celebrity bricolages,” within which the consumer has the freedom and opportunity to engage or not or to manipulate at will.
Cocker uses the example of Zara, one of the interviewees, to illustrate this phenomenon. Zara labeled different aspects of herself as “goofball,” “wanting to study,” “positive” and “old-fashioned,” and she relied upon different celebrities – singer and X-Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger (goofball); Emma Watson, “Hermione” in the Harry Potter films (wanting to study); Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr (positive self); and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge (old-fashioned) – to execute and move between these various identities.  
From Cocker’s interview notes:
“Zara likes ’organic’ products like Miranda. Miranda has her own organic skincare line and every Monday she uploads blogs – which Zara reads every Monday (information on yoga, food and generally stuff she likes). She is Zara’s favorite celebrity. She also follows Miranda on Twitter and wants to buy a pair of leather trousers as she saw them on Miranda Kerr. Zara “wouldn’t buy day stuff from Kate Middleton” – she buys day stuff using Miranda Kerr and Blake Lively. “Miranda Kerr always has her hair to one side, she never has it on both sides and I always try and do that.”
The interviews with all subjects revealed nine types of relationships young adults develop with celebrities. These relationships fit within three general categories – everyday, inspirational and negative. Everyday relationships include “best friendship,” “compartmentalized” and “childhood friendship.” The inspirational category includes “aspirational,” “admiration” and “illusory” relationships. Negative celebrity relationships include “antagonistic,” “not for me” and “guilty pleasures,” all of which connote, as the name suggests, some kind of negative quality that motivates the consumer.
“We see consumers as active producers of symbols and signs of consumption,” Cocker said. “They are creating meaning rather than just waiting around to be told what is important in terms of constructing their identity.”