This research demonstrates that firms can increase customer spending by simply asking customers to "say something nice" about their experience.
This research was motivated by classic research on the mere measurement effect. Historically, the mere measurement effect simply demonstrated a phenomenon, but it stopped short of identifying ways for firms to proactively leverage this effect and, for example, increase the effects of taking surveys on future spending. We propose that soliciting open-ended positive feedback can create positively biased memories of an experience; the subsequent expression of those memories in an open-ended feedback format further reinforces them, making them more salient and accessible in guiding future purchase behavior.
In two studies (a longitudinal field experiment with an established B2C national chain and a field experiment with a B2B software manufacturer), we demonstrate that a survey soliciting feedback with an open-ended positive solicitation frame increases customer purchase behavior.
Figure: The Differences in Spending Across the Various Experimental Groups in Study 2
By asking customers to reflect on the best aspects of an experience, firms can positively rewrite customer memories and increase future sales by 8.25% to 32.88%.
Our findings reveal the powerful effects that simple framing in customer surveys can have on customer behavior. Most consumers likely think little of requests from firms, but their responses to these solicitations for information could ultimately affect how they behave in the future. Marketing managers need to carefully review current efforts and decide whether they need to strategically adjust their survey efforts. Extending our findings beyond simple surveys, companies such Yelp, Amazon, and TripAdvisor should consider asking consumers to focus on positive aspects of their experience in their reviews.
Questions for the Classroom
Why do you think simply asking customers questions can change their behavior? Have you ever had this experience? Did it (or do you think it will) affect your behavior?
In what industries do you think this will be most effective? Least effective? Why?
Do you think this strategy could backfire?
Sterling A. Bone, Katherine N. Lemon, Clay M. Voorhees, Katie A. Liljenquist, Paul W. Fombelle, Kristen Bell Detienne, and R. Bruce Money (2017) “‘Mere Measurement Plus’: How Solicitation of Open-Ended Positive Feedback Influences Customer Purchase Behavior,” Journal of Marketing Research, 54 (1), 156-170.
Sterling A. Bone is Associate Professor of Marketing, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Katherine N. Lemon is Accenture Professor and Professor of Marketing, Carroll School of Management, Boston College (e-mail: email@example.com).
Clay M. Voorhees is Associate Professor of Marketing, Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State University (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Katie A. Liljenquist is Research Associate in Organizational Leadership, Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University (e-mail: email@example.com).
Paul W. Fombelle is Riesman Research Professor and Assistant Professor, D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Kristen Bell DeTienne is Alice B. Jones Professor of Organizational Leadership, Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University (e-mail: Kristen_DeTienne@byu.edu).
R. Bruce Money is Fred Meyer Professor of Marketing, Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University (e-mail: email@example.com).