Thursday, August 25, 2016

BRANDING: Going green is for girls, but branding can make men eco-friendly

Image result for Pepsi Max
Marketers used more masculine fonts and colors in packaging
and hired very masculine spokesmen, explicitly stating that the 
product was for men only. It worked. Marketers changed their
phrasing to 'zero-calorie' drinks. Pepsi Max stated that it was
the 'first diet cola for men'. 

Going green is for girls, 
but branding can make men eco-friendly

"Shoppers who engage in green behaviors are stereotyped by others 
as more feminine and also see themselves as more feminine."

Studies show that men are not as environmentally friendly as women. But could men be persuaded to go green? New research indicates the answer is yes — and it’s all about branding.

The study "Is Eco-Friendly Unmanly? The Green-Feminine Stereotype and Its Effect on Sustainable Consumption," forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research by James Wilkie, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, provides evidence that shoppers who engage in green behaviors are stereotyped by others as more feminine and also see themselves as more feminine.

n a series of seven studies, Wilkie and his co-authors manipulated small details about the products, attempting to change men's attitudes and behaviors. They found that men are more open to purchasing environmental products if their masculinity gets a branding boost.

"Previous research shows that men tend to be more concerned about maintaining a masculine identity than women are with their feminine identity," Wilkie says. "We therefore thought that men might be more open to environmental products if we made them feel secure in their masculinity, so they are less threatened by adopting a green product."

They used two approaches -- affirming a man's masculinity before introducing him to environmental products and changing the associations people have toward green products.

"We documented how both men and women find green products and actions to be feminine," Wilkie says. "We thought that if you reframe environmental products to be more masculine, men would be more likely to adopt them. Instead of using traditional marketing messages about green products (which are typically perceived as feminine), we changed the messages to be more masculine in nature by changing the phrasing, colors, etc. When we did that, we found that men were more willing to 'go green.'"

One study was conducted in China at a BMW dealership and focused on a model known for being an eco-friendly car. While surveying shoppers, the researchers simply changed the name of the car from the traditional, environmentally friendly name to "Protection," which is a masculine term in China. Despite all other descriptions of the car remaining the same, the name change did increase men's interest in the car.

In another study, the team compared men's and women's willingness to donate to green charities. They called one "Friends of Nature," with a bright green logo featuring a tree. The second was named "Fun for Wilderness Rangers" showcasing a wolf howling to the moon. Women favored the more traditional green marketing, while more men were drawn to the masculine branding over the traditional.

Wilkie proposes marketers mimic successful approaches in other products to combat feminine stereotypes.

"Body wash used to be considered a very feminine product, but companies changed that perception by marketing their products in a more masculine fashion," Wilkie says. "They used more masculine fonts and colors in packaging and hired very masculine spokesmen, explicitly stating that the product was for men only. It worked -- as it also did for diet soft drinks. Again, there was a perception that 'diet' products were for women. Marketers changed their phrasing to 'zero-calorie' drinks. Pepsi Max stated that it was the 'first diet cola for men' and Dr. Pepper 10 warned, 'It's not for women.'

"These campaigns appeared to get more men to purchase the product, yet did not scare away women. We think that green products can be successfully marketed in the same way."

Story Source:  Materials provided by University of Notre Dame.   Aaron R. Brough, James E.B. Wilkie, Jingjing Ma, Mathew S. Isaac, David Gal. Is Eco-Friendly Unmanly? The Green-Feminine Stereotype and Its Effect on Sustainable Consumption. Journal of Consumer Research, 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Want to succeed as an entrepreneur? Then put yourself in your customer's shoes

Want to be an entrepreneur? 

Then put yourself in your user's shoes

"Thomas Edison and Richard Branson show how they were aware of the link
between putting themselves in their customers' shoes and a successful idea."

A new study explores the cognitive traits that can spur the recognition of market opportunities in entrepreneurship. In particular, this research introduces a new cognitive mechanism called “user perspective taking”, which means assuming the user’s perspective when approaching a market, and finds that by adopting such a perspective entrepreneurs are able to enhance their ability to identify market opportunities.

Emanuela Prandelli and Gianmario Verona (Department of Management and Technology) together with Martina Pasquini (IE Business School) have published "In User's Shoes: An Experimental Design on the Role of Perspective Taking in Discovering Entrepreneurial Opportunities" in Journal of Business Venturing.

Entrepreneurship is about discovering and exploiting opportunities for new businesses. To recognize the right opportunities is thus among the most important abilities an entrepreneur must possess. At the same time, understanding the potential demand and customers for your business is a core feature of opportunity recognition.

Research in entrepreneurship has pointed to information corridors as a primary cause of the discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities. Recently, however, the focus has shifted to cognitive traits that, in addition to the information possessed by an entrepreneur, can spur market opportunities. Cognitive mechanisms can affect how an entrepreneur interacts with the environment, and so are particularly important when it comes to understanding demand. This is why Prandelli, Verona and Pasquini decided to investigate a specific cognitive mechanism, which they call "user perspective taking," and its effect on opportunity recognition, through an experiment involving 137 graduate students.

User Perspective Taking
Perspective taking (PT), the cognitive component of empathy, is the ability to understand others' experiences and feelings and to view the world from other persons' perspective. Extensively studied in psychology, business studies have discovered how PT contributes to marketing performance and organizational alignment. But its role for demand and entrepreneurship is still unknown. Anecdotal evidence, the authors say, points to the importance of understanding demand and customers when looking for new business opportunities. The examples of entrepreneurs such as Thomas Edison and Richard Branson show how they were aware of the link between putting themselves in their customers' shoes and a successful idea.

The results of the scenario-based experiment in the food industry support the authors' intuition. Those who were asked to help a user to invent a new product package by assuming his perspective, compared to those who did the same but without PT, were able to identify a market opportunity. Moreover, through the experiment the authors also found that prior knowledge of the market positively moderates this relationship between user perspective taking and opportunity identification.

Story Source:  Materials provided by Bocconi University, original written by Paola Zanella. Emanuela Prandelli, Martina Pasquini, Gianmario Verona. In user's shoes: An experimental design on the role of perspective taking in discovering entrepreneurial opportunities. Journal of Business Venturing, 2016.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Increase your sales through lenient return policy

Online Retail Returns Should Be Rethought Because They Actually Make You Money In The Long Run

Marketing study shows lenient return policy may increase sales

"The study shows that lenient return policies do in fact encourage product purchase."

A meta-analysis of retail return policies led by a University of Texas at Arlington College of Business professor may lead businesses to modify their policies to increase sales and reduce returns.  The study found that return policies that offer consumers more monetary rewards are likely to increase their consumer purchases.

Narayanan Janakiraman, an assistant professor of marketing who specializes in consumer behavior, UTA doctoral candidate Holly Syrdal and University of Texas at Dallas doctoral candidate Ryan Freling recently published their conclusions in The Journal of Retailing.

"The Effect of Return Policy Leniency on Consumer Purchase and Return Decisions: A Meta-analytic Review" analyzed 22 academic papers concerning return policies. The analysis reviewed five different dimensions: time, money, effort, scope and exchange.

The team looked at:
  • Time leniency (for example a 60-day vs. 30-day return policy);
  • Monetary leniency (for example offering a 100 percent, money-back guarantee vs. 80 percent money back);
  • Effort leniency (for example no forms being required versus forms are required);
  • Scope leniency (for example accepting returns on sale items versus not doing that);
  • Exchange leniency (for example, cash back versus store credit).
Janakiraman discovered return policies that offer consumers more monetary rewards are likely to increase their consumer purchases.  Janakiraman also learned that businesses that want to curb or reduce returns should relax other aspects of return policies such as exchange leniency or scope leniency.

"There is an inherent belief among business that lenient return policies increases product purchase. While that is true sometimes, businesses must be wary of being too lenient," Janakiraman said. "This meta-analysis shows that retailers may be better served by creating more complex return policies that vary along multiple dimensions instead of just a few."

Fernando Jaramillo, chair of the Marketing Department, said Janakiraman's findings offer vital context for future business decisions.  "The study shows that lenient return policies do in fact encourage product purchase," Jaramillo said. "There is some benefit to retailers."

While most retail stores offer return policies, some offer more lenient return policies than others. The inherent belief is that lenient return policies are more likely to lead to purchases than to encourage returns.

The team showed that the return policy factors that increase purchases are money and effort leniency. That's different from the return policy factors that influence returns. The study showed that leniency increases returns while time and exchange leniency reduces returns.

Janakiraman offers an example
"During the Super Bowl season, you have quite a few consumers who purchase a big-screen TV for the event and then return it after the game is played," Janakiraman said. "Those businesses need to tighten their return policies because a liberal return policy is costing them thousands of dollars. Selling TVs during that time of the year isn't the same as selling a pair of pants."

Janakiraman joined UTA in 2012 and has done prior research on the effect of effort and deadlines on consumer product returns and the psychology of the decisions to abandon because of waits for service. Janakiraman's research broadly focuses on understanding how consumers react to retail experiences and understanding the psychological processes that underlie consumer compliance.

Story Source:  Materials provided by University of Texas at Arlington.  Narayan Janakiraman, Holly A. Syrdal, Ryan Freling. The Effect of Return Policy Leniency on Consumer Purchase and Return Decisions: A Meta-analytic Review. Journal of Retailing, 2016.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Starting a business is a matter of adequate training

So many people dream of starting a business, but don't because they don't believe they're an entrepreneur.  Well, yes, there are certain personality traits many successful entrepreneurs exhibit.  One, having a touch of antisocial in the personality, is a controversial trait found in many by researchers across the globe.  Mostly, this trait exhibits itself as a distrust of conventional wisdom and a willingness to test a new product or service in the marketplace.

Is being a tad antisocial a requirement to successfully start a business?  Of course not.

What is important to your success is learning the basic skills of entrepreneurship. Does this mean you need an MBA?  Actually research shows that getting an MBA tends to stifle creativity and innovation, replacing it with what many call "analysis paralysis."

Successful entrepreneurs do conduct research on an idea's potential - but rely on gut instinct as much if not more than research in making business decisions.

But one thing successful entrepreneurs have is the knowledge of the basic skills of running a business.  How to read and analysis regular financial reports.  How to create and maintain a business budget.  How to read and attract customers, a.k.a., marketing. And, how to recruit, hire and manage employees or subcontractors. Everything else a business owner should hire someone to do for them.

The following is the report of some very interesting research that supports just this reality. A link to the full report is included in the attribution.
*  *  *  *  *

Entrepreneurship is an acquired skill. 

Entrepreneurship as vocation? As a talent, which reveals itself early on and is the requirement for a successful start-up? This is the prevailing -- yet wrong -- view. Entrepreneurship is an acquired skill.

The capacity to think and act in entrepreneurial terms is present in many people -- unbeknownst to most of them. Action-oriented entrepreneurship training sessions can unlock dormant potential and awaken entrepreneurial spirit. This is the findings of a research team, composed of scholars from Leuphana University of Lüneburg, the University of Singapore, as well as various universities in Uganda and Tanzania under the leadership of Michael Gielnik, Professor for Human Resources and Personnel Development in Lüneburg.

For their recently published study, academics carried out a survey among around 350 Ugandan students from different professional disciplines about their attitudes on starting up a business and entrepreneurship. Half of them had previously taken part in a hands-on entrepreneurship training, which encouraged them from the outset to engage in their own entrepreneurial endeavors. The rest of the people asked constituted a control group. The interviews were conducted immediately before and after the program, as well as with a temporal distance of twelve months after completion of the training. "Our data clearly reveals the effectiveness of the training," explains Gielnik.
The short-term effects, which were observed in the training participants, were a greater confidence in their own entrepreneurial skills as well as greater readiness to start a business as compared to those of the control group. After twelve months, the participants of the course showed a significantly higher rate of readiness to start a business than their peers who had not undergone the training."
The Entrepreneurship Training Program, which provided the substance on which the study is based, owes its conception to Lüneburg scholars, who designed it especially for developing countries.

Under the name of STEP, the abbreviation of "Student Training for Entrepreneurial Promotion," twelve-weeks' training sessions are held at universities in various African and Asian countries. The primary aim of the training is to make participants aware of their own potential and to give them the possibilities to demonstrate their own entrepreneurial activities. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German UNESCO Commission are subsidizing the training sessions.

The training combines practice exercises with theory-based content. The core and concept of the program are action-focused. Young adults are expected to learn entrepreneurial behavior by engaging in it themselves. The participants receive US$100 in seed capital. This money is meant to be used for the creation of their own small enterprise and to build it up as the course progresses -- for example a stall selling freshly squeezed juice at their own university. Doing so, they acquire early practice and can learn from their own mistakes. Theoretical knowledge is taught in the form of "action principles": use your own unique strengths! Analyze the market and client behavior! Take interest in your customers! These catch phrases have been developed on the basis of business management methods and theories and equip the participants with the instruments necessary to lead an enterprise.

For developing countries, the results of the study are of particular importance. Permanent positions are in short supply due to the difficult economic situation in many of these countries. Especially teenagers and young adults, who find it difficult to enter the labor market, suffer from this situation. In Uganda, for example, 60 percent of young people are unemployed. The promotion of business creation can, therefore, be an effective means of combating poverty and bolstering economic development. However, the results obtained can also be applied to industrial countries, such as Germany. "We know from past research that action-oriented entrepreneurship training sessions also meet positive responses in economically stronger countries," explains Gielnik. "However, the effects often make themselves felt later than in developing countries. Because of the high level of regulation, starting up a business in Europe or in the USA is a far more complicated and long-winded process than in developing countries."

Story Source:  Materials provided by Leuphana Universität Lüneburg.  M. M. Gielnik, M. Frese, A. Kahara-Kawuki, I. Wasswa Katono, S. Kyejjusa, M. Ngoma, J. Munene, R. Namatovu-Dawa, F. Nansubuga, L. Orobia, J. Oyugi, S. Sejjaaka, A. Sserwanga, T. Walter, K. M. Bischoff, T. J. Dlugosch. Action and Action-Regulation in Entrepreneurship: Evaluating a Student Training for Promoting Entrepreneurship. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2013.