Here’s what signing your name means in the marketplace

March 18th, 2011 - 2:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 18 (ANI): A new study has found that signing your name on the dotted line heightens your sense of self and leads to purchase behavior that affirms your self-identity.

However, signing can reduce engagement in consumers who don’t identify strongly with a product or category.

The findings have potential implications in the marketplace. “Although there are numerous ways in which people may present their identity to others, signing one’s name has distinct legal, social, and economic implications,” said authors Keri L. Kettle and Gerald Haubl from the University of Alberta.

In one experiment, consumers were asked to either sign or print their name before visiting a sporting goods store to purchase a pair of running shoes.

“For consumers who closely associate their identity with running, compared to printing their name, providing their signature before entering the store caused an increase in the number of running shoes they tried on and in the amount of time they spent in the store,” said the researchers.

Signing their name had the opposite effect on people who did not associate their identity with running; they spent less time in the store and tried on fewer shoes.

In another study, consumers were asked to make a series of product choices after either signing or printing their names.

Consumers who signed were more likely to choose an option that was popular with a social group they belong to.

The tendency was stronger when consumers chose in a product category that signalled their identity to others (a jacket) than when they selected in a category that does not signal their identity (toothpaste).

The study has implications for retailers and consumers, according to the researchers.

For instance, a retailer might ask shoppers to sign their names after completing a survey, to enter a prize drawing, or enrol in a loyalty program, since it is likely to lead consumers who identify closely with the stores’ products to become more engaged.

“However, such signature interventions should be used cautiously, as signing tends to reduce engagement in consumers who lack such identification,” said the researchers.

“Although a signature does not necessarily imply commitment, it does always represent one’s identity. Because consumers sign (or can be asked to do so) in many consumption contexts, it is important to develop a deeper understanding of how producing one’s signature influences behavior,” they concluded.

The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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