Marketers who know fear is an effective motivator to create sales may feel a bit guilty causing it in consumers. Rather than having no fear, have macro-level fear, marketers.
Macro-fear is an effective motivator, too, finds recent research from Nicole Verrochi Coleman, an assistant professor of business administration in the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business. In a Feb. 6 announcement about the findings, it shows the school studied the “impact of fear on consumer choice and action.”
The research suggests fear is a strong motivator, but “macro-level” fear can work, too.
How Fear Motivates in Marketing
The announcement about the research reads: “Fear makes us more likely to make a choice — if you have just read about increasing nuclear threat from North Korea, you’re more likely to hit ‘Buy Now’ on Amazon rather than saving the item to purchase later.”
Coleman’s research summary reads:
“We demonstrate that when consumers feel afraid and are asked to make a choice from a set of products, they are more likely to choose one of the products and less likely to postpone making a decision than when they feel sad, proud, disgusted, hopeful or neutral emotion. … While popular conceptions characterize fear as leading to paralysis, our research suggests that fearful consumers are more likely to take action, making more choices than consumers feeling other emotions.”
Macro-Level Fear in Marketing Also Increases Consumption
Coleman’s synopsis posits that retailers, for instance, probably don’t want to cause consumers fear.
However, they can see increased consumption after events in the news that will cause consumers macro-level fears.
“Although a retailer might not know that a consumer had a narrow miss on the highway while driving to the mall, and that these feelings of fear will increase her likelihood of making a purchase, retailers could use promotions or send reminders (e.g., an item that was ‘saved for later’) to consumers following macro-level events, such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters, controversial or fraudulent elections, disease outbreaks and more.
“While there certainly are costs to increased macro-level fears — beyond the human toll that some of these events may have taken (terrorist attacks, natural disasters) — such as lowered well-being, higher stress, etc., our work suggests marketers could note these moments of fear and strategically target consumers with options and promotions to productively use the tendency to make choices in the present.”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
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