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Interpersonal Influence. BA 362 - Fall 2000. What are important issues concerning consumer word of mouth?. Combating product problems or rumors How not to - Perrier, Intel, Coke in Europe How to - Tylenol, some on-line firms after sabotage Firestone/Ford

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Interpersonal Influence

BA 362 - Fall 2000

What are important issues concerning consumer word of mouth?
  • Combating product problems or rumors
    • How not to - Perrier, Intel, Coke in Europe
    • How to - Tylenol, some on-line firms after sabotage
    • Firestone/Ford
  • Word of mouth goes electronic - Internet
    • Tool for consumer recommendations or dissent, can magnify impact of word of mouth by making it accessible
    • Also provides opportunity for monitoring consumer reactions (chat rooms, ecomplaints, PlanetFeedback
    • Can use the interactive properties of the web for “interpersonal” influence - Novartis AG’s smoking cessation program

Relative advantage

  • Compatibility
  • Complexity
  • Trialability/Divisibility
  • Observability/Communicability
  • Examples
    • Dryel
    • Webvan
  • Dealing with ‘really new products’
    • Consumers and technology - ambivalence and paradoxes, coping strategies
    • Benefits not obvious a priori, need to be learned or discovered over time
    • Examples
      • E-ink
      • Electronic clothing

What factors matter most for diffusion of innovations?

Hot New Research - how do consumers cope with technology? (David Glen Mick and Susan Fournier, “Paradoxes of Technology: Consumer Cognizance, Emotions, and Coping Strategies,” Journal of Consumer Research, 1998, 25, 123-143)
  • Mick and Fournier argue that consumers view technology as laden with paradoxes - control/chaos, freedom/enslavement, new/obsolete, competence/incompetence, efficiency/inefficiency, fulfills/creates needs, assimilation/isolation, and engaging/disengaging.
  • Consumers use a variety of methods for coping with such paradoxes, including pre-acquisition avoidance, confronting by pretesting or extended decision making, consumption avoidance after purchase, partnering, and mastering.
What do we know about children as consumers?
  • Influence current decisions, future market, early loyalty can be crucial
  • Learning to buy
    • Parents (intergenerational influence), ads, companies
    • Consumption stereotypes
  • Responses to ads vary with age - discrimination of ad and program, persuasive intent, discrepancies between ad and product experience
How do the groups to which we belong/aspire influence our consumer decisions?
  • Group influence can be quite strong (e.g., merchandise parties), although people often overestimate the degree to which they are the focus of others’ attention
  • Degree of influence depends upon the visibility and type of the product
  • People use products for impression management and for signaling conformity or setting oneself apart from various groups
Hot New Research - do people really notice what we wear? (Thomas Gilovich, Victoria Husted Medvec, and Kenneth Savitsky, “The Spotlight Effect in Social Judgment: An Egocentric Bias in Estimates of the Salience of One’s Own Actions and Appearance,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2000, 78, 211-222)
  • We focus on our own behavior in a social situation, so we may think it is equally the focus of others. This egocentric bias can lead to a “spotlight” effect - people believe that the social spotlight shines on them more brightly than it really does.
  • In a series of clever experiments, Gilovich et al. have people wear a potentially embarrassing t-shirt (Barry Manilow, Vanilla Ice) into a room with a group of other students. They then ask the subject to estimate how many of the people in the room noticed the shirt and also ask the people in the room if they did notice. The results are that people predict that roughly 40-50% of those in the room will notice, but only 10-20% actually do notice. They replicate this result with positive t-shirts and with people’s perceptions of the salience of their contributions to group discussions. People just don’t notice us as much as we think they do.