April 9, 2009

Shopper’s mood trumps price, sales talk

Happy consumers are likely to overlook their suspicions or concerns related to salespeople's product pitches, U.S. researchers suggest.

Thomas DeCarlo of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Michael Barone of the University of Louisville in Kentucky exposed consumers to humorous or happy situations before surveying their responses to persuasive sales offers.

There is a significant catalog of prior research that suggests an even-minded consumer's suspicion of a sales pitch does adversely affect the response to that pitch and the sales agent behind it, DeCarlo says in a statement. What we wanted to know is what happens if the consumer considers a sales pitch when not in a neutral mood but a positive one.

DeCarlo used two separate experiments to demonstrate a positive mood's ability to neutralize the effects of suspicion on persuasion.

The study, scheduled to be published in the July publication of the Journal of Consumer Psychology, finds happy consumers were found to be more accepting of one-sided sales pitches while seeming to suppress any negative or suspicious feelings toward sales agents -- leaving consumers more inclined to go through with a purchase after hearing a weighted sales offer.

While more research in this area is needed to verify the trend, it is becoming clearer that a shopper's level of happiness or positive feelings could be more important to selling than sales prices, sales people and the pitches they make, DeCarlo said.