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How 💪🏼 powerful (or not) people feel has an unexpected impact on how they shop

Harvard Business Review (Oct ’22) research finds interesting, counter-intuitive learning on how our “need for variety” when shopping is tied to our sense of “power”.



Consumers may feel “less powerful” in a variety of situations, e.g., when having low income or high debt, being in a more junior job, during an economic downturn, or even when sitting in a lower (vs taller) height chair.

Evidently, when we feel:

😕 LESS POWERFUL

↬ we have a need to compensate for that feeling by wanting MORE VARIETY of options when shopping; this helps us subconsciously “restore our sense of autonomy” and that we can be in control.

💪🏼 MORE POWERFUL

↬ we have high confidence in getting what we want and don’t feel need to flaunt our power by needing to see a variety of products. Few or single choice options work fine.

💡

HBR's study authors’ suggest that

"if a retailer has reason to think that its customer base is likely to feel relatively powerless, then it may benefit from showcasing a wider range of products."

but ....

"if offering a range of products is infeasible ...it may be worth pursuing strategies to intentionally boost customers’ sense of autonomy, such as focusing on empowering messaging and offering customization options, to reduce less-powerful customers’ need for variety and thus increase the chances that they’ll make a purchase."

They noted examples of “Burger King’s slogan “Have it your way” and L’Oreal’s “Because you’re worth it” that both emphasize customers’ freedom and autonomy”.


👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

Businesses need to have a deep understanding of their consumers, including how “powerful” they feel. They can fine tune their product variety (even by a small amount can work) and message accordingly,

“Feeding a lower-power customer’s desire for variety can increase the chances that they will make a purchase”.


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