chapter  Chapter 7
42 Pages

Beyond persuasion

Achieving consumer compliance without changing attitudes
ByBob M. Fennis, Wolfgang Stroebe

In Chapter 7 we turn to principles of social influence designed to produce consumer compliance with (sales) requests. The chapter is organized around a number of influence heuristics that have been shown to increase the likelihood of ‘compliance’, or the tendency to say ‘yes’ to a (sales) request or offer. Most of these heuristics are mainly effective under conditions of relative automaticity or mindlessness and have been studied frequently in interpersonal (face-to-face) settings where an ‘influence agent’ (e.g. a sales representative) tries to persuade a ‘target’ (the customer) to accept the request or offer. The heuristics – simple rules of thumb or short cuts that consumers use to arrive at a decision in an influence setting – discussed in this chapter include the principles of reciprocity (the tendency to return a favour or concession), commitment/consistency (the tendency to follow up on a previous commitment), social validation (the tendency to look to others to infer what is valuable or important), liking (the tendency to infer value from someone’s likeability), authority (the tendency to comply with a credible or authoritative source) and scarcity (the tendency to infer value from limited availability). In addition, we will review research on how influence agents may ‘exploit’ consumer confusion in bringing about compliance and we will highlight the critical role of consumer self-regulation (the ability and motivation to regulate one’s behaviour in line with longer-term goals and values) and self-regulation failure in influence settings.