Empathic Pricing Helps Consumers Cope

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International  March 20, 2014

Takeaways: Latin American consumers are tired of just getting discounts. They want to know that companies understand and care about the challenges they face. The trends in these countries are applicable globally.

Latin American consumers (in Central and South America) are feeling the pain of economic realities in their countries caused by traffic congestion, diet, work-life stress. A new trend reported by trendwatching.com is Empathic Pricing.

Consumers are tired of just getting discounts. They are choosing brands which help address their pain points with alternative pricing (Empathic Pricing). According to Edelman Brandshare research (October 2013), “87% of Brazilians value brands that help them achieve their goals, and 8 out of 10 consumers say they would purchase from a company that supports good causes and has fair prices, rather than just offering discounts.”

Consumers are tired of just getting discounts. They want to know that companies recognize and care about the pain they are experiencing – and offer assistance in dealing with it. Below are some creative examples. How might you implement something similar in your organization to win over more customers? Would any of these ideas make sense for you?

Pain:  São Paulo – to ease traffic congestion between 5 and 8 pm on central roads, the government instituted a policy that only allows cars with certain license plates on the roads during those times. That means those who have to wrong license plates must wait until after 8 pm to head home from work.
Empathic Price idea: The PlayArte movie theater offered a discount on tickets between 5 and 7 pm to drivers affected by the government initiative.

Pain: 72% of Chileans are trying to lose weight but they don’t have time in their day to fit in exercise.
Empathic Price idea: Coca Cola outfitted a taxi with bicycle pedals as part of the Movimiento es Felicidad campaign (Movement is Happiness). Passengers that use the pedals to exercise while they ride earned a fare discount.

Pain: For Brazilians armed robbery when leaving a restaurant is a real threat because robbers assume they and the restaurants will be holding cash.
Empathic Price idea: The Twister Pub in Rio de Janeiro started offering a 5% discount to patrons who paid with credit cards instead of cash, figuring it would reduce the robbery threat once robbers realized patrons weren’t carrying cash. The Pub’s monthly revenue increased 15%.  

Pain: Growing old is painful. Period!
Empathic Price idea: A Venezuela-based optician launched a 3-month promotion offering discounts relative to the age of the customer – 55% off for those age 55; 70% off for those age 70, etc.

Pain: Brazilian summers can be glorious – or too hot. When it’s too hot, getting cool is the main focus.
Empathic Price idea:  a Brazilian etailer offered daily discounts on summer wear, air conditioners, and other “cooler” items equivalent to the high temperature of the day.

While these are examples of Latin American trends that brands are stepping up to address, they have applications globally. The keys are to recognize the consumer pain points occurring in your own area, and think of creative ways to address them. Get personal with your customers. Ask them for input, and once you start down this path, don’t be surprised if they turn to you again when they experience yet another pain point.

Mindfulness – a way to conquer fear and self-doubt

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International   March 19, 2014

Takeaways: Mindfulness is a method for being aware of the constant chatter in your brain so you can begin to turn off the negative thinking and substitute more positive thoughts.

An excellent article in the Wall Street Journal called Conquering Fear that discusses three types of cognitive-behavioral therapy, including a relatively new movement among psychologists and psychiatrists called “mindfulness.”

In the article, Steven C. Hayes, professor of psychology at the University of Nevada-Reno, captures the problem succinctly: “Most people are struggling with difficult thoughts and feelings. But the show we put on for others says ‘I’ve got it handled.’ In reality, however, there’s a big difference between what’s on the outside and what’s on the inside.”

Left unresolved, this gap between self-image and reality can be self-reinforcing, meaning it can widen over time. Then, crises like death in the family, divorce, or job loss can act like triggers that lead to severe anxiety, panic, or depression.

Mindfulness, with which I actually have personal experience, emphasizes paying attention to the present moment and becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings without judging them. By facing your fears and self-doubt in this manner, you can see how overblown they are with respect to reality and, over time, they lose their emotional power.

Mindfulness requires commitment, time, and most of all, isolation from all the distractions that keep us from getting even a little beneath the surface of our conscious minds. We have to focus on our thoughts to be aware of what is going on inside our heads at any given time. And be patient with ourselves when we continue to think negative thoughts instead of positive ones. Just being aware of the negative thought is a step toward getting rid of it permanently, and makes it possible to change that thought by focusing on a more positive version.

For example, instead of chastising yourself for not working out every day, give yourself credit for the little bit of exercise you do during the day…even if it’s just 15 minutes of stretching or a short walk. Then focus on the benefits that come from working out more often until you find yourself incorporating more exercise into your daily routine. In the process, you’ll reduce the amount of critical chatter in your head and begin applauding yourself for the positive accomplishments.

According to Marsha Linehan, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, “What happens in mindfulness over the long haul is that you finally accept that you’ve seen this soap opera before and you can turn off the TV.”

Right-Brain Thinking Increasingly Needed

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International  11/18/2011

Takeaways: Right-brain thinking is increasingly required as the world moves from the information age into the conceptual age.

The world is transitioning from the information age to the conceptual age. This means that left brain (predominantly analytical) thinking alone is no longer sufficient by itself to successfully grow a business.

A Whole New MindWhat is needed now is what Daniel Pink calls “right brain skills, like artistry, empathy, and big-picture thinking.”

Daniel Pink, a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, and a noted author and speaker, shares his philosophy in his book, A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. You may purchase it from our store at the same price as you would on Amazon.com.

What he’s talking about is a whole brain approach to management – a systems thinking approach®. While the left brain skills of analysis, linear and logical thinking are still necessary, the world is evolving into a need for a more holistic approach, one that addresses not just product and price but contribution to society, design in terms of lifestyle and value, and emotional engagement.

Consider the Whole Customer

This means thinking about the whole person you serve as your customer – not just their pocket book. Whole Foods continues to do this successfully by focusing on whole health, organic products, delighting customers, supporting happy employees, and caring about the environment.

According to Pink, others like GM are beginning to do this as well, recognizing that creative input with an emphasis on world class design is necessary for future growth and success. Finding and hiring people who are motivated by their ability to create, by their desire to be part of a larger purpose, and not by money alone, will be the key as we transition from the information age to a conceptual one.

Companies that empower the artistic and creative talents in people will be more successful than those who only reward the routine analytical work of number-crunching, analysis, and jobs that don’t offer opportunities for independent thinking. Much of those analytical skills have been and will continue to be outsourced.

It’s the right-brain skills of design – be it industrial, graphic, environmental or even fashion design – that are becoming increasingly needed in organizations. Consultants will need to become literate in these skills in order to guide organizations as they reinvent themselves. Productivity in the workplace is increasingly impacted by workspace design and employee emotional engagement. This requires right-brain thinking to implement well.