So Hollywood actress Bo Derek was right but for the wrong reasons.
“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping”– Bo Derek
Could it be where you shop, not what you buy that matters? Perhaps so. A meta-analysis just published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology confirms that experiences (such as where you go shopping) rather than stuff (what you buy) drive consumer happiness.
More crucially, Cornell researchers Thomas Gilovich, Amit Kumar, Lily Jampoland reveal the three psychological drivers for why we derive more happiness from experiences than stuff
- Experiential purchases enhance social relations more readily and effectively than material goods because they create ‘social capital’ that prompts conversation and story telling, whilst fostering a sense of relatedness between people (especially when similar experiences are shared (relatedness is one of the three core psychological drivers of human happiness – competence, autonomy, relatedness))
- Experiential purchases form a bigger part of a person’s identity because our sense of self is based more on what we do rather than what we own
- Experiential purchases are evaluated more on their own terms and evoke fewer social comparisons, thus avoiding the status anxiety associated with material possessions
These are useful insights into the ‘experiential imperative’ of contemporary consumer society – if you want to be happier, buy life experiences instead of material items. And if you want your customers to be happy, offer them a self-defining unique experience worth talking about – either in what you sell or how you sell it. You’ll benefit from a lasting experiential afterglow that is largely absent in the short-lived enjoyment of purchasing stuff.
Gilovich, T., Kumar, A., & Jampol, L. (2014). A wonderful life: Experiential consumption and the pursuit of happiness. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 25(1), 138-151.
Another land grab in ‘Now Economy’ and the world of ‘convenience tech’, on-demand tech designed to save you hassle, time and effort. This week Amazon is launching two ‘Uber for X’ on-demand services.
Amazon Home Services: Handpicked Pros, Upfront Prices, Happiness Guarantee
The first is Amazon Home Services, an Uber for cleaners, electricians, plumbers and all your home needs – 700 services from at home singing or yoga lessons, to car and iPhone repairs – even goat grazing (!) to clean up lawns.
Like Uber, Amazon Home Services works as a broker for independent service providers (background-checked, insured and licensed) that you book and pay through Amazon, with Amazon taking a cut (20%). Like Uber, AHS is a touch-screen-get-service example of ‘convenience tech’ that delivers services on-demand and that is designed to save you time, effort and hassle (as opposed to money). Again like Uber, there’s the upfront pricing which is based on availability, but also verified reviews. Usefully, AHS comes with a ‘happiness guarantee’ that refunds you if you’re not happy with the work. Amazon’s Uber for Home Services is initially available in 40 US states.
Amazon Dash Button: Place it. Press it. Get it.
Amazon’s second Uber-style service launched this week is the Amazon Dash Button. The Dash Button is another example of on-demand convenience tech that takes the form of simple wifi connected button from the world of the Internet of Things that you can stick on your fridge, washer, coffee machine or whatever – and configure it so that when you touch it, Amazon delivers a particular product to you within an hour (through Amazon Prime Now) or within a day (Amazon Prime). From detergent, to groceries, and other home care products, the Dash Button, like Uber, is designed to save you time, effort and hassle in re-ordering products (and is reminiscent of Evian’s IoT smartdrop). And like Uber, it’s a tap-to-get-service on-demand offer. Where it differs from Uber of course is that the Dash Button Service is not a broker for independent providers. But from a consumer perspective, it fits the Uber model of a convenient on-demand service. The dash button is initially launched in US cities exclusively for Prime Members
With Amazon moving into convenience tech with the ‘Uber for X’ services for products and services, this is more evidence that the new C word on digital is convenience – and not content. It also marks a shift in the digital economy – from the New Economy to the on-demand Now Economy. Brands take note.
Marketing campaigns and sales pitches designed to persuade can result in a 39% drop in intent to do business with you.
That’s the finding of a new study in the medical journal Vaccine. The study looked at a campaign from the CDC (Centers for Disease) in the US to persuade people to get vaccinated for seasonal influenza (responsible for thousands of deaths and billions of healthcare dollars).
The persuasive campaign focused on by debunking some of the myths around the vaccination (especially that the flu vaccine can give you a mild bout of the flu). However the campaign backfired; exposure to the campaign led to a drop in intention to get vaccinated from 46% to 28%.
This ‘backfire effect’ of persuasion attempts that seek to correct myths is well-known. Research has shown that people assess marketing subjectively and not objectively, based on whether the campaign appears coherent and is compatible with their worldview, mental models of what they already believe and whether they judge the source to be credible (authoritative). If it doesn’t fit, or the source is doubted, the information can get rejected. Moreover, the persuasive message may actually bring to mind (prime) misconceptions, rendering them more influential – and result in the backfire effect. Finally, this backfire effect can be amplified by ‘psychological reactance‘ – our tendency to react negatively to direct attempts to influence or force us to do things.
So think twice before you use persuasion in your next marketing campaign, especially if you need to correct any myths about your product or service. Such a campaign could backfire. Remember persuasion is just one of the three types of marketing influence – so consider your other options…
The Three Types of Marketing Influence
- Persuasion – Use of Argument to Influence (Buy this because…)
- Suggestion – Use of Example to Influence (Buy what they’re buying)
- Coercion – Use of Force to Influence (Buy this or else…) (e.g. use of incentives)
Would you feel lost or uncomfortable without your smartphone? Then you may be suffering from nomophobia – fear of being without your mobile phone (no mobile phobia).
You can self-diagnose yourself for the psychological condition of nomohobia using the new NMP-Q nomophobia test below, developed by Caglar Yildirim at Iowa State University that is to be published this year in Computers in Human Behavior (full thesis).
A recent study suggests that nearly 2/3 of us (66%) suffer from nomophobia – dependency on our smartphone for our psychological wellbeing. Some call it addiction, others call it evolution. Digital marketers call it an opportunity.
For marketers, the NMP-Q scale items reveal an interesting insight – the root psychology of this situational phobia known as nomophobia appears to be FOMO – fear of missing out. Without our smartphones, we feel we may miss out on fun, love, life and fulfilment. The smartphone is not a gadget, it is a digital umbilical chord connecting us to a fulfilled life.
The marketing implication is clear. In a mobile-first world, mobile marketing will work best when it plays to this nomophopic fear of missing out – by deploying sites, campaigns and strategies built around ensuring people do not miss out on opportunities.
So whilst we’re all busy adapting our digital properties for Google’s new algorithm to be released next month (with its mobile dictate - be mobile-friendly or be invisible) think beyond responsive design. Marketing success in a mobile world means marketing to the nomophobic mobile-mindset.
Nomophobia (Smartphone Dependency) Diagnostic Test
Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with each statement in relation to your smartphone use. (1 = Strongly Disagree, 7 = Strongly Agree)
[Score a majority of 5 and above is an indication of nomophobia (smartphone dependency) – see full report for additional weightings/caveats]
- I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
- I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.
- Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.
- I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so.
- Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.
- If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic.
- If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network.
- If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.
- If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.
If I did not have my smartphone with me,
- I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.
- I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.
- I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.
- I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.
- I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.
- I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.
- I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.
- I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.
- I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.
- I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.
- I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.
Does ‘brand authenticity’ matter to you? Is your brand – either the one you buy or work for – an authentic brand? And what the heck is ‘brand authenticity’ anyway?
Answers are revealed in an eminently useful new 15 point scale – the Perceived Brand Authenticity Scale (PBA Scale – below) – to be published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology by an international team of researchers from the Universities of Lausanne and Bern in Switzerland, and Concordia and l’Université du Québec in Canada.
So what precisely is ‘brand authenticity’? The developers of the Perceived Brand Authenticity scale reviewed research to date to cut through loose thinking and ambiguity and crystallise the idea in a clear and simple definition
Definition of Perceived Brand Authenticity
“The extent to which consumers perceive a brand to be faithful toward itself, true to its consumers, motivated by caring and responsibility, and able to support consumers in being true to themselves”
In other words perceived brand authenticity has four key components
- Continuity (brand being faithful to itself),
- Credibility (true to its consumers),
- Integrity (motivated by caring and responsibility)
- Symbolism (support consumers in being true to themselves)
These four dimensions capture the key idea that authenticity is far more than a simple ‘objective’ attribute; authenticity has psychological, subjective and symbolic value too – authentic brands are true to us personally, stand for what we stand for, and help us be true to ourselves.
So, does your brand have brand authenticity?
To answer this question as simply as possible, ask consumers to rate your brand (and competitor brands) on the 15 question Perceived Brand Authenticity (PBA) scale (anchored 1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree).
[Whilst the researchers propose weighting responses, as a practical first pass, simply add the scores to compare relative performance out of a possible total of 105].
Perceived Brand Authenticity Scale
On a seven point scale, (7 = Strongly Agree, 1 = Strongly Disagree*), to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following
[Brand X] is
1. A brand with a history
2. A timeless brand
3. A brand that survives time
4. A brand that survives trends
5. A brand that will not betray you
6. A brand that accomplishes its value promise
7. An honest brand
8. A brand that gives back to its consumers
9. A brand with moral principles
10. A brand true to a set of moral values
11. A brand that cares about its consumers
12. A brand that adds meaning to people’s lives
13. A brand that reflects important values people care about
14. A brand that connects people with their real selves
15. A brand that connects people with what is really important
* 7 = Strongly Agree, 6 = Agree, 5 = Somewhat agree, 4 = Neither agree nor disagree, 3 = Somewhat disagree, 2 = Disagree, 1 = Strongly Disagree
Finally, does brand authenticity matter?
In initial research with consumers, the developers of the PBA Scale have used the scale to successfully validate the belief among marketers that brand authenticity is a driver of brand choice. Brand authenticity does matter because brand authenticity drives sales.
From a psychological perspective, this makes sense. In a world where we use brands not only to reduce risk when buying, but also to express ourselves, validate ourselves and manage our image, brand authenticity matters because personal authenticity matters. By buying brands with brand authenticity, we are saying something about our personal authenticity.