What Can Animal Blessings Teach Us About the Spiritual Lives of Consumers?

By Tom McLaughlin

In remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, Catholic parishes throughout the United States will once again host annual animal blessing ceremonies on or around Oct. 4.

Just in time for the feast day, consumer behavior and marketing expert Robert Schindler reminds us that the social phenomenon of animal blessings can actually tell us something powerful about the spiritual lives of consumers.

Citing research on the social phenomenon, the professor of marketing at Rutgers University–Camden notes that, by studying the positive effects associated with these rituals, researchers should further consider that ritualistic blessings occur in everyday life, such as someone wishing a friend, “Good luck!” or “Sleep Well.”

Moreover, business owners and operators should take the spiritual lives of consumers into account and consider “transfers of goodness” in their business practices and marketing strategies.

Robert Schindler

Robert Schindler

“This broader conception of a blessing could carry implications for all who seek to provide goodness to people,” Schindler wrote in a 2008 research article, “Blessings and the Spiritual Life of Consumers,” published in the Journal of Business Research.

“For example, businesses that care about satisfying customers might pay attention to developing the power to offer effective blessings,” Schindler continues. “Given modern society’s sacralization of science and art, a religious connection is not necessary. Rather, if an organization of credentialed professionals acknowledges a company’s toothpaste as ‘an effective decay-preventive dentifrice,’ bringing this blessing to public consciousness makes sense.”

Schindler is widely regarded as a preeminent scholar in the study of pricing strategy and consumer behavior. His research was the subject of a Fordham University scholarly conference, and his research regularly appears in top academic journals.

In addition to his studies on “retail blessings,” his research covers the following topics:

Just-Below Pricing

Setting a retail price just below a round number, for example $29.99 vs. $30.00, increases sales in some situations, but can actually hurt sales in other situations.

The Importance of Round Numbers

Round numbers can have strong effects on thought processes.  For example, if you are ranked either 9th or 10th, it makes virtually the same impression. However, if you are ranked 11th, you make a substantially worse impression, because you are out of the “top ten.”

Intergenerational Influence in Deal Proneness

Parents who enjoy redeeming coupons and getting other types of bargains tend to transmit this bargain-hunting tendency to their children.

Critical Periods for Forming Tastes

People tend to form lifetime tastes in their late teens and early twenties.  This has been shown for music, movies, fashions, cars, and even comedians.

Insurance Decisions

One of the reasons people purchase insurance against feared events is that having insurance covering the feared event gives people the sense that the feared event is less likely to occur.

Posted in: Research Highlights

Comments are closed.