Fifth Law of Branding
Branding = Instilling Strong Attitudes about the product in the mind of consumers that are more resistant to change.
The primary motivations to buy an object, are the basic minimum. These are not the ultimate reasons why you buy something. These are the minimum requirements you consider buying or looking for something. As we said, a car should take you where you want to go without a breakdown (give you a sense of freedom and autonomy is secondary). A refrigerator should keep your stuff cold. A printer should print without jamming or any other problems....These are the minimum basics.
There seems to be a law of duality in many purchase decisions we make. There are always two reasons for doing anything. These are the reasons that sound good and the real reasons. The practical, logical, bottom line reasons are primary reasons or primary motivations.
The secondary or ultimate reasons are a bit more complex. These are the sound good reasons (mostly of intrinsic type). We like to show that sometimes Brands are easier to accept when you search the secondary reasons inside your analytical mind.
Brands dominate the secondary motivations. Brands trigger the emotional responses that lead to simpler buying decisions.
The secondary motivations (intrinsic or extrinsic) are psychological and emotional in nature. Brands fill this space. Brands are accepted by your psychological and emotional state of mind.
People decide emotionally and justify logically. Brands make this process easier for people. People make quick or instantaneous decision to buy and then spend a good deal of time rationalizing or justifying the purchase. When they buy products, people do have to rationalize the purchase. In the case of Brands, other people have done the rationalization for them.
Brands are more attuned to the emotional factors in decision making. Brands stimulate positive emotions such as love, pride, respect, happiness, freedom, liberty, autonomy, and security.
In just opposite, people are recollection of old fears, angers, resentments, and uncertainties of buying bad products.
Compulsive Shopping Carries a Heavy Price
For a rising number of Americans, shopping has become more than a means to an end, or a pleasurable pastime.
Instead, experts say, members of this growing group of "compulsive shoppers" feel low when they're not out shopping, and yearn for that special "high" that comes from browsing and buying.
Unfortunately, that high is usually short-lived: For most, the day's spending usually ends in renewed anxiety and sadness as they return home and realize their latest acquisition isn't making them any happier -- and may have put them further into debt.
It's a cycle that's very reminiscent of other harmful pathological addictions, such as gambling, said researcher Helga Dittmar, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Sussex in Brighton, U.K.
"Compulsive buying is often smiled about and belittled, either as 'something we all do at times' or the entertainment of the bored ultra-rich," she said. "The reality is that it has serious consequences, like other addictions. It can lead to severe financial debt, breakdown of relationships and families, and impairment at work and at home."
According to the last U.S. statistics available -- collected in a 1992 study -- compulsive shopping affected anywhere between 2 percent and 8 percent of Americans at that time. But experts believe prevalence of the disorder has risen since then.
Dittmar is the author of a new study investigating the psychological roots of compulsive buying, published in the September issue of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.
In the study, Dittmar used data from the personal "shopping diaries" of 29 women (18 ordinary shoppers, 11 compulsive shoppers), plus the results of detailed questionnaires from 365 adults of varying age, which also included a fair number of compulsive shoppers.
She was able to pinpoint two "vulnerability factors" that appear to raise risks for compulsive buying.
"The first is a materialistic value system, the importance that a person attaches to material goods as a way of achieving major life goals, such as satisfaction and happiness," according to Dittmar. In essence, she said, "materialists are more prone to go for material goods as a solution to any problem they might encounter."
The second factor "concerns the self-concept, where a person who feels that they are far away from their 'ideal' self is more vulnerable to psychological problems," Dittmar said.
In this type of situation, materialistic individuals may turn to excessive spending as a form of what she called "self-repair."
"They'll buy those consumer goods that symbolize a part of their ideal self -- 'If I buy a glamorous dress, I might feel like a glamorous person,' " Dittmar explained.
In fact, the vast majority of compulsive shoppers -- about 90 percent -- are women, and Dittmar's study found clothing to be a major focus of their spending, probably because fashion is so tightly tied to self-image.
Women may also be more prone to the syndrome because shopping is traditionally viewed as a part of female, but not male, identity. And because some women are homemakers, Dittmar said that "they may have less opportunity for other "feel-good" strategies," like working out at the gym or meeting friends for drinks.
The compulsive buyers' personal shopping diaries revealed that most of the "good feelings" generated by their excessive spending is fleeting.
The journals showed that "their initial 'high,' straight after the purchase, was stronger than for ordinary buyers -- but also that the high was short-lived," the researcher said. In fact, compulsive shoppers were much more prone than ordinary spenders to experience "buyer's remorse" once they got their goods home.
"For some people, shopping is all about the thrill of the hunt; for some, it's the high of the purchase; and for some, it's the socialization with the salesperson -- the acknowledgement and reinforcement they get," said April Lane Benson, a New York City psychologist specializing in "overshopping," and the author of I Shop, Therefore I Am: Compulsive Buying and the Search for Self.
She agreed with Dittmar that materialism and poor self-image help drive the condition. While the latest statistics on the prevalence of compulsive shopping are still being tabulated by researchers, Benson believes the disorder is on the rise, especially among the young, and has spread to become a "global problem."
And she believes men's spending habits often allow them to go under the radar as compulsive buyers.
"They're 'image-spenders' more often than women, meaning that they pick up the tab when they have no business doing so, for example," Benson said. Men are also more prone to becoming pathological "collectors," addictively amassing one class of object, often going in debt to do so.
"Collecting is a way of buying compulsively, of course, but it becomes a more highbrow or refined caste," she said.
Avoiding or curbing these types of compulsive behaviors may involve stepping back and re-evaluating what's really important, Dittmar said.
For most people, the "ideal me" will always elude their grasp, she said. So the true pathway to better self-esteem may lie in "picking those aspects that one can realistically do something about, and that are worth doing something about," Dittmar said.
That can be tough, given today's society. Both experts agreed that unrelenting pressure from advertising and the media are pushing people to spend more recklessly than ever before, and that spending is even easier now via 24-hour shopping channels and the Internet.
The media "bombard us with ideals and role models that are likely to make us feel inadequate and in need of 'fixing,'" Dittmar said. While most people won't be unduly swayed by any one ad or TV show, "it is difficult to evade the general message that 'We are what we have,'" she said.
Benson agreed: "'Happiness is the next purchase away,' is what we are being told."
For more on compulsive buying, head to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery.
The grass isn't greener
How quests for improvement can cause us to lose sight of the value of current choices
There are many consumer decisions that we have to make over and over again, such as selecting a restaurant to eat at in our neighborhood or deciding which store to shop at for groceries. The repetitive nature of these decisions provides us with the opportunity to learn from past choices and improve our future choices. However, new research from the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research shows that our quest for improvement may result in a failure to appreciate the value of our current choice.
In a series of eight experiments, Tom Meyvis (New York University) and Alan Cooke (University of Florida) find that when consumers expect to make similar choices in the future, they selectively pay attention to information that suggests that an alternative would be better. These consumers also tend to disregard information that indicates their current choice is the best possible choice.
“Our findings suggest that consumers who are focused on the future are so preoccupied with finding ways to improve their situation that they become overly sensitive to information that points to such opportunities — and lose sight of the relative advantages of their current choice,” the authors explain.
For example, Meyvis and Cooke asked study participants to choose among three stores on a series of simulated shopping trips. After each trip, they were shown the price charged for a product at their chosen store and the prices charged at each of the other two stores.
After going on a series of shopping trips, participants were then asked to indicate which store was the cheapest and whether they would want to switch to another store for a second set of shopping trips.
Notably, the investigators found that when participants were told in advance that they would make a second set of shopping trips, they were less likely to prefer the store they initially chose and more likely to switch to another store after the first set of trips. In addition, they also thought the store they chose was the most expensive fifty percent more of the time. This phenomenon was replicated in later studies even when the chosen store was less expensive than the other two stores.
In contrast, participants who did not expect to have to make a second choice accurately recalled an equal number of trips on which the chosen store was cheaper or more expensive.
“Ironically, participants who were preparing for future decisions, and should therefore be more motivated to learn from their past choices, were less likely to realize that they had selected the cheapest store and were more likely to switch to other, more expensive stores,” the authors write.
Additional evidence suggests that consumers who anticipate future choices selectively search for ways to improve their current situation and disproportionately pay attention to better prices at other stores.
As the authors explain, “As a result, forward looking consumers overestimate how green the grass is on the other side of the fence, leading them to abandon their chosen store for an often objectively inferior alternative.”
Tom Meyvis and Alan D. J. Cooke. “Learning from Mixed Feedback: Anticipation of the Future Reduces Appreciation of the Present” Journal of Consumer Research: August 2007.
Stimulating the appetite can lead to unrelated impulse purchases
Exposure to something that whets the appetite, such as a picture of a mouthwatering dessert, can make a person more impulsive with unrelated purchases, finds a study from the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. For example, the researchers reveal in one experiment that the aroma of chocolate chip cookies can prompt women on a tight budget to splurge on a new item of clothing.
“We found that an appetitive stimulus not only affects behavior in a specific behavior domain, but also induces a shared state that propels a consumer to choose smaller–sooner options in unrelated domains,” explains researcher Xiuping Li (National University of Singapore). “Similarly, the presence of an attractive woman in the trading room might propel an investor to choose the investment option providing smaller but sooner rewards.”
In the first experiment, Li asked participants to act as “photo editors of a magazine” and choose among either appetite stimulating pictures of food or non-appetite stimulating pictures of nature. A control group was shown no pictures at all. All were then asked to participate in a lottery that would either pay them less money sooner or more money later.
Those who had been exposed to the photos of food were almost twenty percentage points more likely to choose the lottery with the chance of a smaller, more immediate payoff than those who were exposed to the photos of nature (61 percent vs. 41.5 percent) and eleven percentage points more likely to choose the short-term gain than those who had not been exposed to any stimulus (61 percent vs. 50 percent).
Similarly, another experiment used a cookie-scented candle to further gauge whether appetitive stimulus affects consumer behavior. Female study participants in a room with a hidden chocolate-chip cookie scented candle were much more likely to make an unplanned purchase of a new sweater – even when told they were on a tight budget – than those randomly assigned to a room with a hidden unscented candle (67 percent vs. 17 percent).
“The scent of the appetitive stimulus led to reduced happiness with remote gains, which implied that participants in a present-oriented state were less sensitive to future values,” Li explains. “In addition, [this] experiment showed that participants were more likely to satisfy their current and spontaneous desire if they were exposed to the unrelated appetitive stimulus before they made the decision.”
Li concludes: “If retailers want to push their customers to shop more rather than stay longer, they should not only maintain a pleasant environment but also an environment full of temptations and excitement.”
Xiuping Li, “The Effects of Appetitive Stimuli on Out-of-Domain Consumption Impatience.” Journal of Consumer Research: February 2008.
Too Many Choices Result In Less Stamina, Decreased Productiveness
Each day, we are bombarded with options -- at the local coffee shop, at work, in
stores or on the TV at home. Do you want a double-shot soy latte, a caramel
macchiato or simply a tall house coffee for your morning pick-me-up? Having
choices is typically thought of as a good thing. Maybe not, say researchers who
found we are more fatigued and less productive when faced with a plethora of
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