Who buys good products? And why?

Yoon, Y., Chastagner, K., & Joo, J. (2020). Inner-Self vs . Outer-Self and Socially Responsible Product Consumption. Sustainability, 12(22), 9362.

Abstract: This paper investigates how two fundamental consumer characteristics, self-esteem (inner-self) and status seeking (outer-self), influence consumers’ purchasing behaviors of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) products via two mediating effects: brand image and self-enhancement. In particular, we analyze these effects in two different CSR domains: environmental and social. By doing so, we are able to verify the underlying mechanisms of how different types of consumers respond to various CSR promotions. We propose a distinctive CSR consumption model incorporating both inner-self and outer-self components. We collected data from two countries, the US and China, using two commonly used online survey platforms: Amazon M-Turk and Loop Information Technology. Using structural equation modeling, our analysis in the environmental domain revealed that both inner-self and outer-self components play a significant role in consumers’ desire to purchase CSR products. Additionally, this process is mediated by the brand image of the firm and the tendency to enhance self-value. Interestingly, we found that in the social domain, self-enhancement mediated consumer characteristics and purchasing behavior of CSR product, whereas brand image did not. This indicates that environmental CSR activities increase brand value and its impact on purchase intention, while social CSR activities do not. Additionally, we found similar patterns for both US and Chinese consumers.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility; self-esteem; status seeking; brand image; self-enhancement; US; China

Look and feel mismatch: Looking heavy but feeling light

We sometimes experience sensory disconfirmation, meaning we expect to feel A but actually feel B. For instance, iPhone looks like a product with light plastic but it is made by heavy metal. In particular, disconfirmation between visual and haptic information (or mismatch between look and feel) is critical for business.

Showroom (Curated by Sarah Robayo Sheridan, January 21 – March 5, 2016)

“How do Toronto artists perceive new social and visual orders brought about by a decade of rapid urban development?”

Commonly, a showroom is intended to present a generic ideal of living, devoid of the nuances of lives as they are lived. The artists in this exhibition, however, turn our attention to the influence of lifestyle marketing in constructing the form and texture of the cityscape. By turns, critical, comedic and formal, the works deepen given knowledge of architecture, place, and the social order.

Fitness equipment looks heavy and rough. However, some artists challenge our intuition: dumbbells are light and sandbags are soft in the exhibition. According to research, when negative sensory disconfirmation is introduced, the source of disconfirmation can sometimes be perceived positively. To go further, the more our intuitions are challenged by look-and-feel mismatch, the more we may become creative.

Sundar, A., & Noseworthy, T. J. (2016). Too Exciting to Fail, Too Sincere to Succeed: The Effects of Brand Personality on Sensory Disconfirmation. Journal of Consumer Research, 43(1), 44–67.

Across four studies, the authors demonstrate that consumers intuitively link disconfirmation, specifically sensory disconfirmation (when touch disconfirms expectations by sight), to a brand’s personality. Negative disconfirmation is often associated with negative posttrial evaluations. However, the authors find that when negative sensory disconfirmation is introduced by an exciting brand, the source of disconfirmation can sometimes be perceived positively. This occurs because consumers intuitively view disconfirmation as more authentic of an exciting personality. Similarly, despite the wealth of literature linking positive disconfirmation to positive posttrial evaluations, the authors find that sensory confirmation is more preferred for sincere brands because consumers intuitively view confirmation as more authentic of a sincere personality. The authors conclude by demonstrating the intuitive nature of this phenomenon by showing that the lay belief linking brand personality to disconfirmation does not activate in a context where sensory disconfirmation encourages a more deliberative assessment of the product.

How could we enjoy difficult modern art better?

Most people have some degree of difficulty in understanding art, especially modern art. In the following, someone at Quora tried to answer “why is modern art/painting very difficult to understand.”

Modern art paintings are the best way to portray the unseen on the canvas. It is about the expression of emotions and feelings on and is not what you see at the very first glance. It can have many interpretations when seen through different angles. If you want to know more about modern art, then you can also read “Why is the New Art So Hard to understand”. It is a book written by Theodor Adorno, a German social theorist who shed more highlight on this concept that why Modern art paintings are so hard to understand modern art. Although the book was written in 1931, it is still relevant in today’s era.

Since modern art is not easy to understand, visitors often keep quiet in the gallery. However, in the Tate Liverpool, UK, several British students gathered together and discussed something in front of the London subway map. They actively discussed several British celebrities to answer the questions in the map, which looked fresh to me. What made me surprised was the very last, underlined, sentence in a piece of paper under the map.

Simon Patterson born 1967 (Born and work UK) / The Great Bear 1992 (Lithograph on paper)

While this appears to be a standard map of the London Underground, the name of each station has been changed. Patterson has swapped the real station names for those of footballers, actors, and other celebrated figures. The image challenges our expectation that we can trust maps and diagrams. Sometimes Patterson seems to be making jokes with his choices. For example, Gary Lineker, who never received a yellow or red card as a football player, sits at the connection between footballers and saints.

What do you think about artists taking and changing existing images?

This sentence, probably written by a curator, relieved me a lot. It allowed me to fail to understand the artist’s intention. It allowed me not to agree with the artist’s opinions. Indeed, I was allowed not to consider it as art.

Interestingly, the curator added one to two sentences under the whole art pieces in the gallery. These additionally added sentences made the Tate Liverpool more friendly and approachable. Easy is better than difficult.

Shah, A. K., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2007). Easy does it: The role of fluency in cue weighting. Judgment and Decision Making, 2(6), 371–379.

We propose that people weight fluent, or easy to process, information more heavily than disfluent information when making judgments. Cue fluency was manipulated independent of objective cue validity in three studies, the findings from which support our hypothesis. In Experiment 1, participants weighted a consumer review more heavily when it was written in a clear font than in a less clear font. In Experiment 2, participants placed more weight on information when it was in focus than when it was blurry. In Experiment 3, participants placed more weight on financial information from brokerage firms with easy to pronounce names than those with hard to pronounce names. These studies demonstrate that fluency affects cue weighting independent of objective cue validity.

Asians love making choices

Many Asians live on rice rather than bread. Since it used to sell in heavy bags, they did not have options to choose. However, people nowadays decrease the amount of food to consume and increase the diversity of means to enjoy. A wide variety of small-portion “meal kits” become highly popular. Certainly, rice is not exceptional.

When I visited Tokyo, Japan, I found a store called Akomeya in Shinjuku area. This store is located across Blue Bottle and has more customers than it. When I entered this store out of curiosity, I found it sells small packages of numerous types of rice. In Akomeya, customers could make a choice out of many options, which does not usually happen when buying rice.

Although freedom of choice may not be a pillar of Western culture any more, it may still be attractive for Asians.

Mochon, D. (2013). Single-Option Aversion. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(3), 555–566.

This article documents single-option aversion, an increase in consumers’ desire to search when faced with a single option. This effect can lead to a product being chosen more often when competing alternatives are included in the choice set, contrary to various rational models of search, as well as to recent research on choice conflict showing that additional options can lead to higher deferral rates. A series of lab studies document this effect, differentiate it from other context effects, and test some of its boundary conditions. The results suggest that single-option aversion is not driven by the information provided by the additional options, that the desire to search is critical for this effect to occur, and that the effects of single- option aversion are not limited to the immediate choice set. These results have both practical and theoretical implications for the understanding of consumer search and choice deferral.

How to attract attention of pedestrians?

How could we make passing pedestrians stop and look at something? One solution is to apply technology. For instance, tactile pavings or tactile ground surface indicators tell them when to cross roads.

Another solution is to apply design. While I stayed in Curitiba, Brazil, fire extinguishers always attract my attention successfully. This is because they are located inside red-yellow squares painted on the ground.

Interestingly, the same rule applies when fire extinguishers are above the ground. Red-yellow squares are painted on the ground when fire extinguishers are hung on the wall.

Design beats technology in Curitiba. 🙂

Labrecque, L. I., & Milne, G. R. (2012). Exciting red and competent blue: the importance of color in marketing. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science40(5), 711-727.

From beverages to consumer electronics, marketers are using color in innovative ways. Despite this, little academic research has investigated the role that color plays in marketing. This paper examines how color affects consumer perceptions through a series of four studies. The authors provide a framework and empirical evidence that draws on research in aesthetics, color psychology, and associative learning to map hues onto brand personality dimensions (Study 1), as well as examine the roles of saturation and value for amplifying brand personality traits (Study 2). The authors also demonstrate how marketers can strategically use color to alter brand personality and purchase intent (Study 3), and how color influences the likability and familiarity of a brand (Study 4). The results underscore the importance of recognizing the impact of color in forming consumer brand perceptions.

Mini-me, 3D printer, and handmade effect

I once believed mini-mes are expensive because they are produced by cutting edge 3D printers, which differ from my 3D printer or a mere 3D food printer. A news article elaborates that human miniatures are not cheap.

Pinla3D scans its customers in-store and then gives them a choice of 3D model sizes. A 25cm (9.8-inch) figure costs RMB 3,580 (US$580), according to the store’s site. Three generations of one family can be immortalized in plastic at 1:9 scale for RMB 8,997 (US$1,470). That’s cheaper than we’ve seen it done by a Japanese startup site – with the added bonus that going in-person to the store will make the mini-me more accurate than submitting a bunch of photos to a website.

However, my belief was corrected when I visited Tianzifang in Shanghai, China. A series of mini-mes displayed outside a store cost only RMB 480 (US$ 68). I wondered how and why they are inexpensive.

The mystery was solved when I entered the store. These mini-mes were not produced by 3D printers. Instead, two people made mini-mes out of clay.

We tend to assign greater value to a product when it is made by human than when made by machine. It is called as “handmade effect.” Then, why did I observe a reverse handmade effect, that it, hand-crafted mini-mes are cheaper than the ones printed by 3D printers? I suspect the handmade effect is observed only when the people who make a product is clearly associated with the final product. If the association is not established so that buyers do not know who produce their purchased products, handmade effect disappears and buyers are not willing to pay more. If I come back to Shanghai, I suggest two mini-me makers to give their own name cards and personal stories to buyers!

Fuchs, C., Schreier, M., & van Osselaer, S. M. J. (2015). The Handmade Effect: What’s Love Got to Do with It? Journal of Marketing, 79(2), 98–110.

Despite the popularity and high quality of machine-made products, handmade products have not disappeared, even in product categories in which machinal production is common. The authors present the first systematic set of studies exploring whether and how stated production mode (handmade vs. machine-made) affects product attractiveness. Four studies provide evidence for the existence of a positive handmade effect on product attractiveness. This effect is, to an important extent, driven by perceptions that handmade products symbolically “contain love.” The authors validate this love account by controlling for alternative value drivers of handmade production (effort, product quality, uniqueness, authenticity, and pride). The handmade effect is moderated by two factors that affect the value of love. Specifically, consumers indicate stronger purchase intentions for handmade than machine-made products when buying gifts for their loved ones but not for more distant gift recipients, and they pay more for handmade gifts when purchased to convey love than simply to acquire the best-performing product.

People need vocabulary to develop taste

Barry Schwartz argues in his book, the Paradox of Choice, that increasing choices does not make us happy. Instead, reducing choices boosts sales and giving more options lowers choices.

Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically. —quoted from Ch.5, The Paradox of Choice, 2004

Then, does giving more choices enhance the enjoyment choosers experience? It may not be, either. I had a similar experience at the cheese section of the Annam Gourmet at Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. It provided a wide variety of cheeses. Therefore, spent a significant amount of time in carefully comparing multiple cheeses and eventually choosing one. When I tasted the selected cheese, unfortunately, I was confused which one to choose because I spent too much time on thinking about several cheeses.

Then, what could marketers do to help people enjoy their experience? One suggestion is that when customers experience the option, they are reminded which one was chosen. For instance, if the option name is shown, customers will be able to keep focused on it.

Nekkid Wings is a chicken wing restaurant in Seoul, Korea. Customers select one out of twelve flavors for a bucket of five wings. Some flavors are safe (e.g., classic buffalo) and others are risky (e.g., parmesan garlic). Most customers order multiple buckets and try safe and risky flavors together. The flavor names printed on the paper help customers focus on which flavor they are testing.

West, P. M., Brown, C. L., & Hoch, S. J. (1996). Consumption Vocabulary and Preference Formation. Journal of Consumer Research, 23(2), 120–135.

Consumers’ understanding of their own preferences can be aided by a “consumption vocabulary”—a taxonomy or framework that facilitates identifying the relation between a product’s features and one’s evaluation of the product. In the absence of such a vocabulary, consumers’ understanding of their own preferences will require more extensive experience and may never fully develop. The effect of such a vocabulary is tested in two experiments in which subjects provided with a vocabulary (1) exhibit better-defined and more consistent preferences than control subjects, (2) show improved cue discovery, and (3) show learning (i.e., increases in consistency over time). All results hold regardless of the functional form of the model used to assess subjects’ preference formation.

Donate in cash or by credit card

We often pay in cash or by credit card. Differently from cash, credit card often leads us to over-consumption. This is because credit card does not require us to write down the amount paid (rehearsal) and our wealth is not depleted immediately rather than with a delay (immediacy) (Soman 2001).

We could also donate in cash or by credit card. For example, visitors at the Tate Liverpool in UK could donate 4 pounds by inserting bills into a silver box or tapping their credit cards on a white device. Which donation mechanism benefits the museum better?

Soman, D. (2001). Effects of payment mechanism on spending behavior: The role of rehearsal and immediacy of payments. Journal of Consumer Research27(4), 460-474.

Past expenses have been shown to influence future spending behavior by depleting available budgets. However, a prerequisite for this relationship is the accurate recall of past payments and the experiencing of the full aversive impact associated with them. This article shows that the use of different payment mechanisms influences both these factors and hence moderates the effects of past payments on future spending. Specifically, past payments strongly reduce purchase intention when the payment mechanism requires the consumer to write down the amount paid (rehearsal) and when the consumer’s wealth is depleted immediately rather than with a delay (immediacy). Two experiments show support for the proposed theoretical framework.

A visual nudge for social distancing inside an elevator

As Coronavirus spreads widely, people are asked to keep distance from others. The Straits Times posted a photo showing that visitors at an Indonesian shopping mall stand on boxes inside an elevator.

Another simple visual nudge was found in Seoul, Korea. The elevator floor was divided into nine squares. A single pair of foot prints was painted inside each square, suggesting only nine people in total were asked to ride an elevator.

It was not long before that I had thought floor signage could not change our behavior because we learned rules naturally. At that time, a yellow-painted footstep in Singapore and an orange-colored line in Shenzhen failed to correct our learned rules. However, Corona virus is now changing my thought: floor signage changes our behavior.

Benartzi, S., Beshears, J., Milkman, K. L., Sunstein, C. R., Thaler, R. H., Shankar, M., … Galing, S. (2017). Should Governments Invest More in Nudging? Psychological Science, 28(8), 1–15.

Governments are increasingly adopting behavioral science techniques for changing individual behavior in pursuit of policy objectives. The types of “nudge” interventions that governments are now adopting alter people’s decisions without coercion or significant changes to economic incentives. We calculated ratios of impact to cost for nudge interventions and for traditional policy tools, such as tax incentives and other financial inducements, and we found that nudge interventions often compare favorably with traditional interventions. We conclude that nudging is a valuable approach that should be used more often in conjunction with traditional policies, but more calculations are needed to determine the relative effectiveness of nudging.

How to breathe better with a mask

Wearing a mask becomes common as the spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus disease) dominates our lives. However, people find it difficult to breathe with a mask. I recently found an interesting new product for masks at Granhand where I visited to buy droppers or incenses for my office.

Though you can not seize nor hold the smell, it has a decisive effect on the matter of our memory and emotion and believes on its vitally of influences on our decision among our lives. GRANHAND gives faith towards the value of the fragrance and consistently pursues to make the scent part of our regular living. Although it may be slow nor has perfection, the variety of contents that our brand is offering will build the unique value of the experience that no other brand will possess. GRANHAND will not be a product where it vanishes with ease nor be neglected. It will continuously illuminate with a distinct presence and yield to warm people’s mind.

This store sells a natural oil named as “On Your Mask.” When we spray it inside the mask, we could breathe in a fresh way. This oil impressed me a lot because when I think about a mask in the past, I paid attention exclusively to its practical functionality. In other words, I simply ignored how much comfortable I should feel when wearing it.

Customer experience is not dried up for new product development.

Kornish, L. J., & Ulrich, K. T. (2011). Opportunity Spaces in Innovation: Empirical Analysis of Large Samples of Ideas. Management Science, 57(1), 107–128.

A common approach to innovation, parallel search, is to identify a large number of opportunities and then to select a subset for further development, with just a few coming to fruition. One potential weakness with parallel search is that it permits repetition. The same, or a similar, idea might be generated multiple times, because parallel exploration processes typically operate without information about the ideas that have already been identified. In this paper we analyze repetition in five data sets comprising 1,368 opportunities and use that analysis to address three questions: (1) When a large number of efforts to generate ideas are conducted in parallel, how likely are the resulting ideas to be redundant? (2) How large are the opportunity spaces? (3) Are the unique ideas more valuable than those similar to many others? The answer to the first question is that although there is clearly some redundancy in the ideas generated by aggregating parallel efforts, this redundancy is quite small in absolute terms in our data, even for a narrowly defined domain. For the second question, we propose a method to extrapolate how many unique ideas would result from an unbounded effort by an unlimited number of comparable idea generators. Applying that method, and for the settings we study, the estimated total number of unique ideas is about one thousand for the most narrowly defined domain and greater than two thousand for the more broadly defined domains. On the third question, we find a positive relationship between the number of similar ideas and idea value: the ideas that are least similar to others are not generally the most valuable ones.