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Amitava Chattopadhyay

Amitava Chattopadhyay
Emerging Market Multinationals - Amitava Chattopadhyay

Journal of Consumer Research

Research: A busy mindset can be a marketing tool

Framing products around virtuousness can help businesses market to those with a busy mindset, according to new research.

Global business school, Insead, recently found the mere perception of yourself as a busy person, or what they call a busy mindset, is a ‘badge of honour’ that can be used to promote better self-control, and marketers can leverage this with ‘virtuous’ offerings requiring this self-control.

When Busy Is Less Indulging: Impact of a Busy Mindset on Self-Control Behaviours, was created by Amitava Chattopadhyay, professor of marketing at Insead, and co-authors, Monica Wadhwa, associate professor of marketing and supply chain management at Fox School of Business at Temple University, and Jeehye Christine Kim, assistant professor of marketing at HKUST. The report shows there can be a flip side to being busy. While people who feel under significant time pressure tend to get anxious and make hedonic decisions, those who simply think of themselves as busy tend to make virtuous choices as a result of their perceived self-importance.

“It is common for marketers to use busy-ness as a campaign concept, as many consumers can relate to it. However, if the advertised product is an indulgent one – such as fast food – the campaign could backfire,” Chattopadhyay said. “Busy-ness appeals should be more effective for products that require people to assert self-control, as would be the case for a gym chain, for example.

“What we show is that feeling busy helps when the offering is virtuous. For many products, this is a matter of framing. If an oatmeal cookie is framed as rich in fibre, then it is seen as virtuous. However, framed as being delicious, it is seen as indulgent. So framing it right is important.”

Does Your Company Have the Right Logo? How and Why Circular- and Angular-Logo Shapes Influence Brand Attribute Judgments

Five experiments document that the mere circularity and angularity of a brand logo is powerful enough to affect perceptions of the attributes of a product or company. It is theorized and shown that circular vs. angular logo shapes activate softness and hardness associations, respectively, and these concepts subsequently influence product/company attribute judgments through a resource-demanding imagery generation process that utilizes the visuospatial sketchpad component of working memory. There are no logo shape effects on attribute judgments a) when the visuospatial sketchpad component of working memory is constrained by irrelevant visual imagery, b) when people have a lower disposition to generate imagery when processing product information, and c) when the headline of the ad highlights a product attribute that differs from the inference drawn from the logo shape. Further, there are shape effects even when the shape is incidentally exposed beforehand using a priming technique rather than being a part of the logo itself, demonstrating the generalizability of our findings. When taken together, the results have implications for working memory, consumer imagery, and visual marketing.

Why The Shape Of A Company’s Logo Matters

While they’re commonly called “intangible assets”, logos matter. Gap learned this lesson in 2010 when it attempted to change its logo, but quickly abandoned the endeavour after it met with a furious backlash from followers on Twitter and Facebook. What the retailer hadn’t realised was how the subtle aspects of its logo were perceived, and how a complete revamp might affect those perceptions.

Attain at the West, Maintain at the East: Goal Framing Matters

Let’s say that you run a bank. You decide to give more credit to your good customers. Should you give it those who increase their account balance by any amount (even as small as 1 euro) per year? Or to those who just maintain their account? Which offer would they find more appealing?

Now imagine that you are running a charity and you want to increase repeated donations. Should you ask your contributors to pre-commit to making the same donation again and again? Or should you ask them to pre-commit to increasing their donation every time they donate, even if the increase is just only 1 cent? Which setup would they find more motivating?

Can such small differences (1 euro, 1 cent, etc.) have an impact on consumer behavior, consumer welfare, and business outcomes? And what impact, exactly?

How Your Logo Shapes Consumer Judgments

The shape of your logo affects how consumers perceive your organisation, its products and even its behaviour.

While they’re commonly called “intangible assets”, logos matter. GAP learned this lesson when it attempted to change its logo, but quickly abandoned the endeavor after it met with a furious backlash from followers on Twitter and Facebook. The fact that GAP had suddenly decided to update its iconic and classic logo without consulting its loyal fans was just one reason for its failure.

What the retailer hadn’t realised was how the subtle aspects of its logo were perceived and how a complete revamp might affect those perceptions.

As my colleagues and I point out in a new paper, a logo’s shape can affect the judgments people make about the attributes of a company or product. Specifically, we find that circular or angular logos activate associations of “softness” and “hardness” respectively.

These associations extend beyond physical notions of softness and hardness. For example, if a person is reading an ad for a services company, the notion of softness may give the reader the image of the company as being more sensitive to its customers.

How to Frame Goals to Increase Motivation

Most of us have set goals for ourselves before, whether it’s losing weight, saving money or training for a marathon. Goals help us to focus our minds on achieving what we set out to do. We know that setting goals makes us more likely to attain what we want. But there are differences in what motivates people to achieve goals, which has implications for managers who have to use them to generate a behavioural response, either in customers or employees.
For some of us, we achieve our goals easily. We find ourselves highly motivated and we set out to achieve them, but maintaining them becomes a real challenge. Keeping to our weight or a grade average at school, for example, can seem the harder part of the journey. But for others, it’s the opposite. That is, we feel motivated to tend to what we’ve already achieved, with the attainment of the goal being the real struggle.

These differences, in the ease with which we pursue attainment goals versus maintenance goals, depend on how the individual sees themselves in relation to others. In our recent paper Pursuing Attainment versus Maintenance Goals: The Interplay of Self-Construal and Goal Type on Consumer Motivation, Haiyang Yang, Antonios Stamatogiannakis and I found that people from more independent cultures, such as the United States for example, find attaining goals more motivating than maintaining them and those from more interdependent cultures, such as China, were more motivated by maintenance than attainment.

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