They’ve got me again ….

So earlier in the academic year I wrote a blog entitled “How very sneaky” where the thing that had got my goat that very week was the so called “foot in the door” technique used by those pesky sales people in order to get you to try their products. I mentioned at the time a company called Graze, who send you in the post a box filled with 4 little pots of snacks. I was enticed by a voucher I received in WHSmiths and signed up for a free box, vowing at the time to cancel my subscription as soon as the first box had come… and I did. Then a few weeks later I received and email, the subject line read “a small favour”. They then went on to tell me that if I could spare a moment to fill in a feedback form online I would get 3 boxes half price.

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Once again they reeled me in …

They’d got me again… and as I sit now nibbling on some chilli and lime pistachios (which are actually very nice) as I write this I’m not sure I can bring myself to cancel and leave them again! Last time as I logged into my graze account online, and clicked on the final “Are you sure you want to cancel” a little sad fruit face popped up, saying they were sad I was leaving. I don’t think I’ve ever been guilt tripped by a pile of raisins before! I’ve now been conditioned to excitedly anticipate the soft thud on a Wednesday morning as the postman deposits my latest Graze box through the front door. It’s like getting a present in the post every week, with each Graze box containing some exciting new treats, this weekly variety definitely keeps me interested. Kahn (1998) indicates that one way to meet customer’s needs is to introduce a wide variety of products, increasing the chance that you will meet each individual customers needs also encouraging variety-seeking behaviour encouraging customers to try out different products therefore keeping them buying your products for longer. And this definitely applies to these little boxes, as you don’t get to decide what comes each week so it’s a nice little surprise.

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Look how lovely and Christmassy it is!!

So as my three free boxes began to arrive week by week I began slowly fall in love with Graze again, until one day they put the final nail in their brand loyalty coffin as far as I’m concerned. They sent me not only a Christmas themed box all covered in a lovely fair-isle print (no I didn’t know that was the proper name until now either). They also sent me not one but two presents… firstly two little envelopes with a post-it ….

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See, they even presume that I have friends … how nice of them!

These include a voucher to give to a friend so they get two free graze boxes, and secondly and most excitingly this ….

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Wait for it …..

Which made THIS!!! Look at it, isn’t it exciting!?

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I shall call him … Bernard 😀

In this process Graze have successfully used all of the techniques I mentioned in that first blog about them. The foot in the door technique where they got me to sign up for just one box at first (Freedman & Fraser, 1996). The raisin induced guilt trip, making me feel bad for cancelling (Regan, 1971). The idea that the more favourably I view them the more I am willing to do (Seiter, 2007), so of course I was happy to fill in a feedback form. And finally that by me perceiving that we have a good relationship (see I’m even using “we”) and by giving me lovely free cardboard cut-out polar bears with interchanging accessories that brand loyalty is more likely to occur (De Wulf, Oderkerken-Schröder & Iacobucci, 2001)

Now I know I’ve mentioned Graze before but when you learn about all these clever little sales techniques you think that especially as a consumer psych student you will see them coming a mile off and that they would never work on you, and here I am having fallen for them all! The worrying thing is that even now that I know exactly what they are doing, I cant even find it in myself to be vaguely angry with them. I just think they’ve got this spot on, really successfully using these techniques to draw you in. The use of interesting “handmade” looking packaging makes it feel like each box has been filled and packaged just for me by some wonderful little Graze elf folk. Not that it’s been put together in some big warehouse by some disgruntled employees.

Most of the techniques used by Graze play on the “reciprocity principle” De Wulf et al (2001) discuss the importance of this in more detail in their paper, in terms of relationship marketing, in which marketing uses heavily the concept of there being a valued relationship between the consumer and company. Personally I think this is one of the main sales techniques used by Graze, obviously the products they are ultimately selling are nice and people enjoy eating them, but it’s this relationship they so carefully build with the consumer that really works for them and has definitely ensured I’ll be buying a good few more boxes! I know, I know, I’ve well and truly “been had” by all their sales ploys, but I don’t care! I love them!! 

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There’s a formula you say?

Ok so whilst perusing the Journal “Marketing Science” for a reference I wanted for last week’s blog I came across another paper in the same Journal Issue so I nabbed it ready for the focus of this week’s blog. Entitled “The fundamental Templates of Quality Ads” it immediately caught my attention (Goldenberg, Mazursky & Solomon, 1999). And this was even before I realised that Caroline’s lecture this week would be on adverts, what a nice coincidence! As all of us consumer psych folks are well aware there is an awful lot to be said for a great advert, and we sure do love to watch them (well the good ones anyway). There’s something magical and altogether fascinating about a really good advert, something that captures our attention and makes us smile and think “Hey, you guys are alright” and even if we know we never have need of whatever these people are selling us, they’ve already left a good impression (or at least some sort of memorable experience). Anyway back to this paper, it claims there are 6 main templates that are the basis of a quality advertisement. So I thought I’d try and find an advert or an example that would fit with each of these 6 templates-

Click on the title of each template to see the whole video – (couldnt find many of these on you-tube to embed the videos sorry)

  1. The Pictorial Analogy Template – in which the product or company logo is introduced into different scenarios or places described as “the product place” .
Heinz

Heinz Invisible Bottle

I thought this advert was really clever, the product isn’t even shown until the very end however we all know what’s missing, Ketchup of course! I think this advert plays on a concept called the “Simulation Heuristic” (Kahneman & Tversky, 1984) where a prediction is made based on how easily the situation can be imagined. So it features situations where many (including myself) presumably imagine that they would have a bottle of tomato ketchup in their hands. I think this also makes their product seem valuable as you realise how many situations would be better with it! As covered in the lecture this concept only really works when the brand name is already one that is well established.

             2.The Extreme Situation Template – presents situations that are unrealistic in order to enhance the prominent or key attributes of a product.

Barclaycard Water Slide - http://www.tellyads.com/show_movie.php?filename=TA7640

Barclaycard Water Slide

 

This advert plays on the concept of novelty, research by Cox and Locander (1987) suggests that consumer’s brand attitudes are often influenced by the advertisement itself. With a fun looking water slide, who wouldn’t want to be able to have a card that could do this!? Making the dwindling of finances, and banking itself seem fun by suggesting that this bank has a sense of humour.

         3.The Consequences Template – showing what will happen should you choose to buy (or even not to buy) their product.

Corsodyl Tainted Love - http://www.tellyads.com/show_movie.php?filename=TA12691

Corsodyl Tainted Love

I’ve gone for a scary advert here, rather than a “look how good your life could be if you buy this” tactic. When selling “controversial” products or perhaps ones that people don’t want to admit needing these adverts often use unusual strategies (Waller, 2004). Advertising can focus on the shock tactic, in order to firstly make you remember the product/advertisement and also fear what your life could be if you don’t buy this product… Go on quick, before all your teeth fall out!!

          4.The Competition Template – where a product is shown in competition with a supposedly superior item or event, with the expectation that the superior product should be chosen. When it isn’t this baffles the consumer as to why this product is so great.

 

I know this is quite an old ad but it’s one I used to love when I was little, although I don’t know if I’ve ever even had said oven chips it used to amuse me anyway. This advert is a really nice example of elaboration in advertising, where the products attributes or qualities are over-exaggerated. (Malaviya, Kisielius & Sternthal, 1996) Clearly the little girl doesn’t (or at least I hope not) love the chips more than her own Dad, but it does make you wonder what’s so amazing them!

         5.The Interactive Experiment Template – an advertisement that requires some sort of participation from the viewer/consumer.

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L’oreal Alternative ending “Heels”

These are more typically used in magazines where advertising allows more interaction with the pages, in this case allowing the reader to “scratch and sniff” and experience themselves what this new fancy toilet paper smells like. This is often used with perfume advertisements too, it’s a nice way of saying “Hey, try me out”. These are now also speading into internet ads, so whilst watching something online the other day a L’Oréal ad popped up on the screen before the programme I wanted to watch and I was prompted to pick one of two options “Heels” or “Collar” and I was then shown an advert that had a different ending dependant on what I clicked on. This makes the consumer feel like they’ve to some extent picked an advert themselves, although obviously I just wanted to watch what I actually went online to see! Zaichkowsky (1994) discusses the Personal Involvement Inventory, a context free measure which assesses how involved with a product an individual is, suggesting that this measure should be developed to include advertisements. With the recent expansion of advertisements onto the internet this gives companies the option of using these adverts that require attention and interaction. I’m not personally sure how happy consumers are with these types of adverts as they often require attention to shut them up and make them go away when all you actually want to do is settle down and watch something online.

         6.The Dimensionality Alteration Template – showing how the product could work in some other dimension, often used to present a normal scenario but shifts the event to the past or the future. Can be used in adverts to show a history or even future progression of the company.

Hovis "As good today as its always been"

Hovis “As good today as its always been”

In this advert this suggests to me reasons for brand loyalty, as it shows the history of the company and how the advert is still timeless and involves nostalgia, at the same time suggesting that the bread is just as it always was. As stated by Kardes, Cline and Cronley (2008 – Consumer Behaviour – science and practice) “loyal customers choose their brands because of previous experience with them, not because of deals or convenience”. So by reminding the consumer how long this brand has been around for its saying “look you picked me before, I’m still the same”.

Overall I think these 6 templates are applicable to many adverts and at least seem to encompass many of the “classic” or well-known advertisements. After all where would you even start when coming up with a television advert? Although perhaps credit should be given to successful advertisements that don’t fit in with these categories, suggesting innovation and imagination. It is nice as a consumer to feel like a company has made special effort to get your attention rather than just stick to some safe formula, but hey if it works why change it?!

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Those oh-so-tempting BOGOF’s …..

So as I was searching for inspiration for this weeks blog, gazing blankly up at the television the BBC did a wonderful thing and pretty much laid a topic in my lap. News this morning states that the Office of Fair Trading, or OFT have created a new set of principles regarding the way supermarkets can promote their “amazing” discounts and offers are displayed to the consumer. Now everyone loves a bargain but as a consumer it is important to investigate these “wonderful” offers to see if you are actually benefitting or it’s just those pesky supermarkets duping us again! Eight of the major supermarkets have signed up to this new policy – those being Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, the Co-op and Lidl.

Confusing eh?

Confusing eh?

But wait…. What about ASDA?? Hmm and as a new branch happened to open up this week (rather conveniently less than 5 minutes from my house!) it does make me wonder why they are so reluctant to join in “the fun”. Anyway before I persuade myself they must be evil and to never shop there (don’t be silly it’s so close, and it’s all new and shiny” let’s look more in depth at this new policy-thingiemagig.

This new policy has come about after investigations into instances where product prices have been “artificially raised” to then be discounted by the supermarkets in order to make this look like you are making a massive saving. In some instances “discounts” were found to have run for longer than the products “actual price”. So what is it about these offers that really just sucks us in? And when I say “us” I mean students. I had a conversation yesterday with someone about whether temporal discounting effects (where you can have a larger reward if you choose to wait, or a small reward now) differ within the student population as money is tight and doesn’t seem to operate in the conventional pay monthly scheme. With student loans being paid at frankly odd intervals, asking someone to wait 6 months for £40 or have £20 now, would be a different task altogether for a student surely??

BOGOF 2

Research suggests that temporal discounting changes in relevance to both age and income, and “that impulsivity in decision making declines rapidly in young adulthood, reaching stable levels in the 30s” (Green, Myerson, Lichtman, Rosen & Fry, 1996). This also works for decisions now that will result in negative consequences in the future … e.g. thinking that fantastic offer to buy all of those muffins, with the rational knowledge that realistically you are never going to be able to eat them all before they go off. Personally I find that these supermarket offers induce “impulse buying”, defined by Rook (1987) as “unplanned” purchasing. Products that present themselves to me as being Buy-one-get-one-free (or BOGOF) find their way into my basket even if I don’t need them, explaining why sales during promotional periods soar (Kopalle, Mella & Marsh, 1999).  These inviting little offers affect me more than they should! The word “free” I think just does something to consumers, that magical concept of apparently getting something for nothing. Although this concept of impulse buying seems a relatively modern take on us greedy consumers, research into this goes back to the 60’s with the idea that “in-store stimuli apparently create new needs” explaining why all of a sudden a product may seem oh so attractive now that it’s on offer (Kollat & Willet, 1967, p.29).

Looking rather full ... uh oh!!!

Looking rather full … uh oh!!!

I also find myself more inclined to buy a product if it is perhaps usually deemed as a luxury or an expensive item when it is on offer, over my usual choice of a similar product, it is nice after all to occasionally feel like upper-class champagne coiffing individual when nibbling at some half-priced smoked salmon, it does after all detract somewhat from the usual grim feelings associated with being a student. But of course these nice fancy versions, the “finest” the “extra special” are only purchased over the value range when it’s on offer. This idea investigated by Sethuraman (1996), finding that a switch to the high priced alternative is likely to happen when discounts occur, but an individual will more than likely switch straight back to the normal cheaper product as soon as the offer ends. Therefore offers don’t always win faithful new customers.

HUZZAH! To being posh, and eating salmon and all that stuff, wot is posh like...

HUZZAH! To being posh, and eating salmon and all that stuff, wot is posh like…

As these new policies are enforced by the OFC I am once again grateful that my rights as a consumer are being looked out for, however it’s true, everyone is a sucker for a bargain!

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Christmas… we meet again.

With Christmas approaching it has not escaped my attention that all things Christmassy are starting to appear all over our telly boxes and even the music in a clothing store the other day was Christmas related. I cannot of course exclude myself from this welcome party that is eager to don all things warm and snuggly (I am after all wearing a fleecy onsie whilst writing this). However it does make you wonder (when Christmas gifts arrive in the shops before the first leaves have even fallen) how out of sync with the seasons the marketing industry must be in order to make their products ready. Thinking not just about Christmas but seasonal marketing in general, obviously as a consumer student we are aware that products do not just arrive upon our shelves and in our baskets, but spend a moment thinking of the poor sod sat in his office in July, air conditioning on full, sun blazing outside, who is designing some snowflake adorned packaging for an occasion that frankly seems ages away! A paper by Radas and Shugan (1998) states that “virtually every product, in every industry in every country is seasonal”.

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Poor little elves… working all year in preparation for Christmas.

 

Now obviously with some products it makes sense that you aren’t going to want to purchase them all year round, however they include a table of products including products from chocolate mints to diamonds and show when during the year is the seasonal peak and the percentage of sales that occurs at this point. Chocolate mints if you were wondering apparently being mostly sold October – December… why should it be that we specifically wish to buy chocolate mints over the Christmas period …odd. With Cadburys apparently starting development of new products for Easter a whole 18 months before they are due to be released. Even focusing on the release of films, with delays in production possibly being fatal for a films forecasted release date, with a one month delay possibly meaning they miss the Christmas season entirely. This idea does make me a little sad, obviously I’m all for innovation and new products, however think of the poor marketing people who are constantly living their work lives 18 months or so in advance…

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Some chocolate mints, just because I just mentioned them.

In the Radas and Shugan paper they suggest some complicated (suspiciously stats related) little forumula which will enable a company to predict which time of year will be beneficial to launch or market new products. It describes seasonality as being “so strong in many industries that losses routinely occur in the off-season”. Then why is there not more research into seasonality and marketing strategy? With such little research into general seasonal marketing strategy I’m now going to focus on Christmas because well that’s the only specific seasonal research I could find!!

Spangenberg, Grohmann, and Sprott (2005) explore the concept of “retail atmospherics” in which they look at the combination of Christmas music and scent and how effective this is in enticing customer’s to get in the festive spirit. Obviously visually appealing are the window displays of large department stores that vary seasonally with Christmas being no exception, but does it not seem a little excessive to change music and scent dependant on the time of year too?? North, Hargreaves & McKendrick (1999) found links between wine sales and music, with French wine sales increased with the playing of French music. Olfactory cues or ambient scent said to be effective when it is relevant to the store or product being sold (Spangenberg, Crowley & Henderson, 1996).

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Personally, my favorite Christmas smell!!

With females said to be “dominating” the Christmas gift sales market (Fischer & Arnold, 1990), with Christmas shopping widely seen as “women’s work” it’s no wonder shops are adorned with glittery trees and sparkly lights, these are not just Christmassy but more than anything just rather girly, with the addition of scent and music it is clear to see the shift (and especially at this time of year) to experiential marketing (Schmitt, 1999). With the focus on marketing and the shopping experience itself as a more experiential process, no wonder people begin to feel a little more generous with the gifts when a shop manages to lull you into a sense of stepping into Christmas itself!

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Christmas overload…

This seasonal push for sales with Christmassy lights and smells and music surely would be just all too overwhelming?? However if christmas music and scent (in the case of the research by Spangenberg et al) are presented together they are seen as desirable and less confusing than if presented alone or without context. To me it does all seem just a little over the top. However it clearly works, with Christmas over a month away somehow I’m already excited, I blame that damn coca cola advert!

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Happy birthday to me … exploring the sinister possibilities of greetings cards …

So last week it was my birthday, as I gave a fond farewell to the lovely year that was 21, and begin to resent the process of aging in general (Old people always claim to be “21 again!!” with glee so does this mean that’s it now for my youth??) Now don’t get me wrong I love birthdays, as in the kind of love that involves planning for weeks, balloons all over the house, special birthday breakfast in bed kind of enthusiasm. However as much as I do love the fuss, I do wonder with a mixture of self-indulgence and embarrassment why it is that it has become the rule that others should feel obliged to buy me gifts and celebrate too. Apparently the good old “Happy Birthday” song itself is actually owned and copyrighted by Warner, meaning that for the song to be sung in full on television etc they must be paid royalties.  This all seems rather odd to me.

All together now … “Happy Birthday to meeeee…”

So as my room is now filled with the remnants of these celebrations, these being mostly birthday cards. I wonder how it came to be that these pieces of folded card came to be such an important aspect of the exchange of good wishes. Involved in not only birthdays but a plethora (my new favourite word) of other public holidays, celebrations and other offerings of sentiment. So I began to look into the history of  – the greetings card. One name in particular that is synonymous with the concept of the greetings card is Hallmark. I found one particular paper that I want to focus on by Papson, 1986 which suggests that the greetings card “presents itself as an innocent form of communication” to me suggesting he has a more sinister view into what he deems “the corporate invasion into everyday life”. He explores the history of the greeting card and then begins to dissect the ways in which he deems the whole business to be positively evil. Deeming the greetings card to be “an abstraction, which substitutes for lived experience” and to some extent I have to say I agree, sending this piece of card, with a pre-written message is no substitute for actual time spent with a loved one. Also as for cards that weren’t received, they only seem to act as a stark reminder that perhaps this person doesn’t care, but to the same extent does putting a bit of paper in the post with some hurridly scrawled message actually imply true emotional value??

A whole load of those lovely greetings cards … no actually .. i really do love post!

He who brings these magical papers of sentiment …

 

Starting in the early 1900’s the business of the greetings card began to grow, with more and more occasions being catered for. In a book by Robinette, Brand and Lenz (2001) entitled “Emotion Marketing: The hallmark way of winning customers for life”, the importance of emotion in marketing is explored. Suggesting that “nearly every major success at Hallmark can be traced to the effective creation, utilization, delivery or exchange of emotional value” Suggesting that this company is built on not only the desire to help us share our feelings with others but their desire to show they care for their customers and how they implement this. A concept akin to the idea of brand personality, the success of this conveyance of integrity addressed by Lee, Back & Kim (2009). They make their money, by selling us pieces of paper covered with an image of a teddy clutching flowers or some aptly captioned 1940’s style photograph as a substitute for  how we wish to express our feelings towards another individual. The previously mentioned paper by Papson pulls apart the language contained in many greetings cards – the use of pronouns e.g “you”, words that suggest “uniqueness” e,g “because you’re special” and finally exaggerated phrasing e.g “for the dearest mother in the world”. Reading this paper has made me consider the sentiment of sending greetings cards and just how highly we place trust in greetings cards companies to say the things that we don’t want to write ourselves. In a way they are selling the emotions that we are afraid to write for ourselves.

Evil generic poem writing genius, or helping us spread the love?

I am aware that this is an exploration perhaps a little in depth into the frankly not so sinister world of greetings cards but this paper really did make me consider the exchange of cards and just how much money is spent on these each year, it also definitely made me want to sign up to the Amnesty International campaign that James mentioned called “Write for rights”.

Go on, sign up, you know you want to …

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Oh just go away you stupid pop-ups….

So as I dance around the internet hub with glee as we connect it for the first time, I realise just how long a month with no internet at home feels! Finally, I think to myself no more trips to the Maclab to write this pesky blog, I can now write it at my leisure whilst sat in the comfort of my own room, and oh what about the myriad of other things I used to do online…. As I load up my computer and open the web browser to settle down to watch all the TV I’ve missed recently.

So I settle for an episode of something (insert whichever series here that makes me sound the best) on a website we shall call for the moment “splotch splearies” because I of course do not use dubious websites instead of paying good old fashioned money for box sets… Ahem…. So as I click my way through to the episode I want, I realise just how annoying the internet can be, advert after advert pops up on my screen … I am told that I can “Make cash online NOW”, the next advert tells me that if I sign up to their questionable looking website I can talk to Sarah from God-knows-where in her underwear staring at her webcam “Hey sexy, lets meet up” she tells me. And finally, joy of joys I’m bombarded with some irritating advert for a gambling website, where the young women featured just look oh so happy to be using their mobile phones to play online bingo whilst at the hairdressers.

See just how happy she is that she just won Bingo….

It is at this time I think back to when James mentioned some research done by those clever Bangor University folk in his lecture, the concept of Action Fluency. How when an object gets in the way of a desired movement or action, even though people are perfectly capable of navigating their way around these obstacles their liking for these pesky little obstacles decreases. Where the internet is concerned these pop up advertisements are my obstacles and I sure do hate them!

Those darn obstacles… even make you red in the face see!

I then found some really interesting research by Edwards, Li and Lee (2002) looking into the intrusive nature of pop up advertising and how because these online advertisements are seen as so invasive they are dealt with as if they are an active threat and can cause feelings of irritation and ad avoidance behaviour which obviously is not the desired behaviour. As a marketing device you want your advertisement to be appealing and interesting and not for people to go out of their way whilst feeling actively peed off to avoid your ad all-together! This paper defines the difference between what it calls “banner ads” where adverts appear on the current web page in the periphery so they don’t actually get in the way, and in my opinion the very worst of all (dramatic music please) … the pop up ad.

The beasts!

Where the adverts are launched in a separate window either behind or on top of the desired web-page, and these as we all know are most definitely not only annoying but intrusive! Pop up ads or interstitials (being the proper posh name) can elicit either positive or negative responses from the viewer, perhaps inducing better recall but more often than not negative attitude formation or avoidance of the ads all together. It has been argued that it is not the advertisements themselves that are irritating but the so called “tactics” by which these are forced upon us (Sandage & Leckenby, 1980). Particuarly irritating factors include advertisements that are too loud (Aaker & Bruzzone, 1985) as these are provide sensory annoyance, especially I find when you are nicely settled down to watch something and all of a sudden some loud and irritating advert blares up.

Booo…annoying huh?

Edwards et al (2002) suggests that a person will find an advert irritating or invasive as a result of “a cognitive evaluation of the degree to which the advertisement disrupts a person’s goals”. Also irritation may occur when the advertising technique is deemed to be using the “hard sell” or perceptions of persuasion occurred then a much less favourable association was made with the product (Roberts and Rossita, 1974)

 

Therefore I don’t personally understand why the pop-up marketing strategy is employed by so many companies as there is a wide range of research that shows that not only do consumers not like these adverts because they are just bloody annoying but also its likely to mean they are going to learn to avoid these adverts and eventually the products all together are going to gain bad associations!

Pop-up ads… about as welcome as a punch in the face!

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How very sneaky ….

As I rifle through my bag at the end of the day looking for a pen I come across the little voucher I was given earlier with a receipt for a “free Graze box for all WHSmith customers”. Now usually these little “voucher” thingies apply to some sort of stationary offer or printer cartridge “mega deal” that I’m just not interested in. However being a poor student with a limited budget (queue tiny violin and dabbing thoughtfully at the my eyes) this offer of free food was just too much. Of course on studying this magical offer a little closer it became clear that there were strings attached. “First box free, payment details necessary, cancellation possible at anytime”.

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Mmmm free snacky things …

“Aha” I think to myself, but of course, I can just sign up for one free box and then cancel, how could this possibly go wrong. So as I sit there gleefully entering my bank details thinking that I’ve got myself a great deal, as I press “order complete” I suddenly remember all the times I’ve been caught out before….

I think back to the “Red Cross incident”, home studying for January exams alone last year. It was the middle of the second week of revision, it was really cold and our boiler had broken and then “Knock, Knock” at the door and I opened it to find a rather cold looking young woman with a clipboard. She asked if I could donate any money to the Red Cross, and to cut a long story short I ended up with a £5 a month standing order and a feeling of stupidity.

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Those sneaky red cross charity peeps..

Now don’t get me wrong I’m all for giving money to charity, but giving that I couldn’t afford my own heating bills it seemed a very stupid thing to have done. Even at the time I knew exactly what was happening, however I found I just couldn’t say no. I had fallen for the “foot in the door” technique and not it seems for the last time (Freedman & Fraser, 1966).

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A foot… in a door

“Oh but she was so lovely” I tell myself, and then that little part of my brain that remembers the social psychology I’ve studied reminds me of the concept of ingratiation. The concept that the more liked a person is, the more favourably you regard them and the more you are willing to do for them. Seiter, (2007) found within the catering industry this also works particularly well for tipping behaviour in restaurants, throw a customer a compliment and you’re more likely to get a tip. What a fool I was.  She even commented on how lovely and cosy the house looked and how cold it was outside, again falling for yet another technique found by Regan (1971), the concept that if someone can induce feelings of guilt then you are more likely to comply.

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Signing my soul away ….

Months later after having paid much more than I could afford I finally rang Red Cross to cancel my donations after having giving myself a firm talking to and psyching myself up for the guilt that was sure to ensue. Reminding me of a favourite moment in Friends …

An effective marketing strategy though, with these wonderful offers giving you the impression that the company cares enough about you to offer you these free things, research by De Wulf, Odekerken-Shröder and Lacobucci (2001) showed that if a customer has perceived there to be a good relationship between them and a company this is more likely to induce brand loyalty.

There was also the “free months trial” with Netflix which went pretty much the same way. So as my friend tells me all about the Amazon Prime “month trial period” I have to remind myself that I AM the idiot that falls for these offers, always thinking at the time that of course I will remember to cancel before the end of the month is up…

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