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Academic Trustees Reading List

Sharon Shavitt’s Journal Must-Reads from 2014

Sharon Shavitt is Walter H. Stellner Professor of Marketing, and Professor in the Department of Psychology and at the Survey Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois. Her research focuses on the cross-cultural factors affecting consumer judgments, self-presentation, and survey responding. 

Her recommendations for our 2014 reading list:

When Going Green Backfires: How Firm Intentions Shape the Evaluation of Socially Beneficial Product Enhancements” by George Newman, Margarita Gorlin, and Ravi Dhar, Journal of Consumer Research, October 2014

Shavitt: Some important caveats for companies interested in “going green:” New research from the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that consumers are less likely to purchase a product when they perceive that the company intended to make a green product compared to when the same environmental benefit occurs as an unintended side effect.

Consumers appear to perceive that an intended environmental enhancement diverted resources away from enhancing quality. This was observed for products such as all-purpose cleansers, drain cleaners, and dishwasher soaps. The findings of the research also suggest some ways that firms making green products can more effectively communicate environmental benefits, and reap benefits for company reputation, without creating unintended negative consequences for the brand. 

“A Meaningful Embrace: Contingent Effects of Embodied Cues of Affection,” by Rhonda Hadi and Ana Valenzuela, Journal of Consumer Psychology, October 2014

Shavitt: There may be such a thing as "love at first swipe." New research from the Journal of Consumer Psychology suggests that under the right circumstances, affectionate gestures such as stroking or hugging can lead people to grow attached to products. However, the research also suggests that this increased attachment due to affectionate gestures happens to the extent that the product itself has some visual human-like traits (e.g., a human face on the packaging). Some marketers seem already to be leveraging this strategy. For example, digital products manufacturers encourage users to “swipe” their tablets and phones  –  a motion akin to stroking. This research describes the conditions under which such subtle physical interactions can actually lead people to become more attached to their products.

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