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Empowered consumers more likely to switch brands

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How powerful we feel in our daily lives may impact our likelihood of switching favourites brands, trying something new, or both, research showed.

"Our research examines the impact of a person's perceived sense of power on their likelihood to switch products or brands," wrote authors Yuwei Jiang and Lingjing Zhan from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Derek D. Rucker from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

As consumers, we form favourite brands and select services providers from a plethora of choices.

The authors artificially heightened participants' sense of power and then immediately measured how engaged they were in the idea of switching products or brands.

When participants felt powerful, they were more likely to express an interest in switching to a new internet service provider or changing the flavour of ice cream they wanted to eat. Importantly, the researchers only measured this type of behaviour when participants were provided with an opportunity to take action.

"Brands interested in both drawing more customers and preventing customer loss might consider measuring the level of empowerment of their consumer base and also looking for situational triggers that might make consumers feel more (versus less) powerful," Jiang explained.

As such, luxury brands with a rich and powerful customer base may benefit from diversifying their current product line.

Similarly, brands targeting new customers might seek to temporarily empower people in an effort to increase their propensity to switch.

For example, by beginning sales calls with "We know you have the power to select your own phone service", telephone companies may generate new business.

"A brand deciding to target other consumers to switch should focus on the empowered consumer," the authors said in the study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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