If you have customers or prospects with a high need to be seen as individual, your promotion should be personalised and you should alert them to the fact that it's exclusive to members of their group. You should be sure to check that membership of the group you are targeting is seen as desirable and, ideally, one that requires effort for members to be included.
A recent study conducted by researchers including a team from Iowa State University might help provide some insights.
One of the first things the researchers did was to test the effect of an increasingly popular type of promotion that they call the “targeted appeal”.
The targeted appeal is one that is limited to a specific group or audience. For example Borders Bookstores sometimes offer an “Educators Special” a deal that is available only to teachers. Another example might be an airline or hotel that promotes an offer only to those travellers or guests who have done business with them in the past four weeks.
The study results showed that preference for an exclusive offer was 40.7% higher than an offer that was made available to anyone, even if the offer was the same. Interestingly though, this increase only occurred in one specific group of people. Those people who reported themselves as having a high need to be seen as unique and different to others. In the case of those people who didn’t posses a high need for uniqueness, there was no difference in their preference and reaction to a targeted or a non-targeted promotion.
The researchers suggest that one of the reasons for the difference in responses to the same offer concerns an individual’s ‘social identification’.
That is they see themselves as possessing tendencies and characteristics that relate to a specific group. Put simply, when an individual with a need for uniqueness has their membership of a specific group is made salient to them before the offer is made there was a tendency for them to prefer that offer.
In two additional experiments the researchers went on to explore the factors that increased an individual’s need to be identified with a unique group. One of the most important features was how desirable it was to be seen as a member of such a group. Those people who were told that an offer for a product was only available to a specific targeted group and it was considered desirable to be seen as a member of such a group increased their preference for the offer by a further 31%.
A second factor that influenced people's preference for an offer was how much effort those individuals had to make to become a member of the target group. The more effort it required someone to exert in order to become a group member the more they were influenced by exclusive offers targeted to that group.
In conclusion, let’s imagine that you are thinking about creating a new offer to persuade your current customers to stay loyal or perhaps to persuade new consumers to do business with you, as well as making sure that your offer is honest and ethical it might also be important to consider these additional points to ensure your campaign is as effective as it can be.