Research

James Swift

26 May 2020

Strategist’s Digest: May 2020 

Contagious digests the most interesting and relevant research from the world of advertising and beyond, because there’s just too much to read and too little time.

Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

In this month’s Strategist’s Digest:

1) Designer labels compel women to behave more selfishly

2) What proportion of commercial radio listeners avoid the ads?

3) Using green products boosts consumers’ social worth

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Does the devil wear Prada? Luxury product experiences can affect prosocial behavior 

Yajin Wang (University of Maryland), Deborah Roedder John and Vladas Griskevicious (University of Minnesota)

Give it to me in one sentence.

Wearing designer garb makes women more likely to behave selfishly.

Give me a little more detail.

The researchers gave women designer handbags and scarves, and then gave them the chance to behave either selfishly or selflessly.

In numerous situations, the women given luxury goods were more likely to pursue self-enhancement (ie chasing status and satisfying their own interests) than those given unbranded versions of the same goods.

In one experiment, women who had spent time draped in luxury took for themselves the last good pen from a communal stash (the monsters). In others, they expressed less willingness to engage in prosocial behaviours, and gave less money to charity when invited to make donations privately.

But when invited to make charitable donations in view of other people, the women in the luxury group gave more money than average. This is consistent with the pursuit of self-enhancement, since public acts of generosity can boost a person’s reputation.

The researchers linked participants’ pursuit of self-enhancement values to the power of luxury goods to raise people’s perceptions of their social status, which they then feel compelled to sustain and promote.

One last detail: when women were given a designer scarf but told that the label was no longer exclusive or desirable, they did not give less money to charity privately or more publicly, suggesting the spell of the luxury item was broken.

Why is this interesting?

The researchers say they are the ‘first to study the psychological and behavioural consequences that are triggered by actual experiences with luxury products.’

And for marketers, the study is a reminder that making luxury brands more accessible diminishes their potency, although doing so may make the world a slightly better place. So, swings and roundabouts.

Any weaknesses?

One obvious limitation: this research only examines the behaviour of women. The researchers state women are important contributors to the luxury market, but don’t explain their decision beyond that. They do however speculate that the effects observed in the study could be even more pronounced in men.

Where can I find the whole report?

Here, but it’s not free.

Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash

A Benchmark For Mechanical Avoidance Of Radio Advertising: Why Radio Is A Sound Investment 

By Aaron Michelon, Steven Bellman, Margaret Faulkner, Justin Cohen, Johan Bruwer: (Ehrenberg Bass Institute for Marketing Science)

Give it to me in one sentence.

Only 3% of radio listeners switch off or change stations during commercial breaks.

Give me a little more detail.

Researchers at the Ehrenberg Bass Institute for Marketing Science studied the behaviour of 800 radio listeners in Canada over the course of nine months.

On average, only 3% of listeners of the 17 commercial stations monitored changed the station or switched off their radio during ad breaks. Rates of mechanical avoidance were slightly higher for music stations compared with talk radio, and for out-of-home listening compared with in-home listening. 

Why is this interesting?

It will be music to the ears of anyone who works in commercial radio, but it’s also a useful reference study for media planners. And in this piece for Radio Ink, author Bob McCurdy notes that previous studies have found similarly low (7%, 8%) incidences of ad avoidance in radio.

Any weaknesses?

Low rates of mechanical avoidance are not a guarantee of attention.

Where can I find the whole report?

Here, but it's not free. You can just read the Radio Ink piece instead (see link above), or be satisfied with Contagious’ humble summary.

Photo by Mert Guller on Unsplash

The Greenconsumption Effect: How Using Green Products Improves Consumption Experience 

Ali Tezer (HEC Montréal) and H Onur Bodur (Concordia University)

Give it to me in one sentence.

People enjoy using products more when they know that they are good for the environment because it boosts their sense of social worth.

Give me a little more detail.

The researchers asked people to try products (headphones, dinnerware sanitiser, pens) and then rate the experience, as well as how likely they were to buy the goods. Participants told (before trial) that the products were green enjoyed using them more than those who were given no such information. They were also more likely to report a ‘warm glow’ feeling from using the products (even when it was not their choice to use a green product), and they expressed (marginally) greater purchase intent.

Green products create a ‘warm glow’ by boosting users’ sense of social worth, and people who feel socially excluded tend to get the most benefit from using them, according to the research.

Why is this interesting?

Previous research has shown people can be put off buying products by marketing that boasts about green credentials. We covered research that proved something similar in March’s Strategist’s Digest. Tezer and Bodur’s study distinguishes itself by looking at how environmentally friendly products affect actual consumption, showing that brands can boost customer experience by going green.

Any weaknesses?

None immediately spring to mind.

Where can I find the whole report?

Here, and it’s free, which is always lovely.

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