Journal Must-reads from Anirban Mukhopadhyay, HKUST

This month’s reading list is curated by Anirban Mukhopadhyay, Professor of Marketing and Associate Dean, School of Business and Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.


Solving the last-mile problem

If You Are Going to Pay Within the Next 24 Hours, Press 1: Automatic Planning Prompt Reduces Credit Card Delinquency by Nina Mazar, Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely, Journal of Consumer Psychology (free download until Jan. 31, 2019)

“There is growing interest in the field of behavioral economics, and an increasing recognition of the importance of what has been called “the last mile problem” – how do you get people to follow through on their intentions? This piece, one of my absolute favorites in recent years, demonstrates a deceptively simple application of psychological insights that help reduce the intention-behavior gap. The context is that of a credit card company tackling delinquencies, but the principles can apply to almost any sales follow-up.

"More generally, this research is also a fantastic practical demonstration of how to conduct A/B testing (in this case, specifically, A/B/C/D/E testing). For these reasons, I think this is a must-read for anyone interested in effectively translating conceptually sound academic research to the world of practice.”


Is text messaging “too close” for marketing?

Urgently Yours: Temporal Communication Norms and Psychological Distance by Alex Kaju and Sam J. Maglio, Journal of Consumer Psychology (free download until Jan. 31, 2019)

"'The medium is the message' – we all know that. But what characteristics of the medium determine the inferences made by readers of the message? This research fast-forwards the old 1960s maxim into the 2st century, and places it squarely in the modern day milieu where marketers communicate with customers via every available means, including emails and instant messaging.

"The key finding is that people perceive messages sent via text messaging services to be not just more urgent, but also closer in physical space and more likely to happen, than identical messages sent via email. This raises some ticklish questions – sure, you might want to communicate via means that feel more personalized and immediate, but what other expectations might you be setting up inadvertently?"


Payment needn’t be (so) painful

Would You Like to Round Up and Donate the Difference? Roundup Requests Reduce the Perceived Pain of Donating by Katie Kelting, Stefanie Robinson, and Richard J. Lutz, Journal of Consumer Psychology (free download until Jan. 31, 2019)

"One wants every interaction with one’s customers to feel like a win-win for all concerned. One of the hardest tests for this aspiration comes at the point of payment. People feel the “pain” of payment, and firms try to alleviate and distract from this pain. One popular tactic implemented in this regard, which serves to kill two birds with one stone, is to ask customers at the point of payment whether they would like to round up their transaction amount and donate the difference to charity.

"This research, the highlight of which is a field experiment involving over 32,000 transactions, demonstrates that such round-up requests do work – they increase people’s likelihood to donate and result in greater donation amounts – by reducing the pain of donating. What effects might round-up requests for other causes have, and might rounding-down (say by paying forward towards future transactions) be worthy of consideration?"


Take another look at calorie labels

Don't Count Calorie Labeling Out: Calorie Counts on the Left Side of Menu Items Lead to Lower Calorie Food Choices by Steven K. Dallas, Peggy J. Liu, and Peter A. Ubel, Journal of Consumer Psychology (free download until Jan. 31, 2019)

"Sometimes the simple insights are the most powerful. It has been nearly a decade since calorie labeling was first mandated, and researchers and policymakers have been searching for an observable effect for much of that decade. Just as the consensus was swinging around to the idea that maybe calorie labels do not have much of an effect, this research comes along and turns that idea on its head. Across several studies in the lab and in the field, it finds that calorie labels do have an effect – if the calorie values are listed to the left of the menu instead of to the right where they are normally located. Critically, the effect is the opposite among Hebrew-speakers in Israel, who read from right to left. To me, this paper exemplifies the spirit of JCP Research Reports – novel, insightful, and beautifully simple."

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