Business Briefs: Fun Business Names, Leadership Morals & The Survival of Vinyl

Welcome to The Metropreneur’s newest series: Business Briefs. The world of academic publications features fascinating findings from real-world experiments in business and the marketplace. Here are some key takeaways and applicable nuggets of knowledge that may be helpful for your business.

Fun Will Only Get Us So Far

Researchers at the Villanova School of Business have been studying the benefits of having a fun business name. One of the benefits, as it turns out, is that it seems to create a little cushion for business transgressions. 

That is, if you mess up, having a fun name makes it more likely you’ll be forgiven. 

But first, we should probably define “fun,” A fun name, according to the research team, is one that is linguistically playful. It might use a cute font or have an unconventional spelling, maybe it’s a pun. For a prime example, think about the local coffee shop, Bottoms Up. “Bottoms Up” is a drinking idiom, the place is located in the Bottoms of Franklinton…and it donates to organizations that provide diapers to families in need. THAT is a fun name.  

The researchers set up a series of four studies, looking at 3,138 customer reviews of Groupon and Wayfair products, and recruiting both random participants and college students to assess fictional businesses. In one of the trials, participants rated fictional business names on a fun scale, and then reacted to a story about a faulty product from the business.  

Participants were more likely to forgive businesses with fun names, especially in a particular circumstance: The business branding needed to be more utilitarian than hedonistic. 

What does that mean? A utilitarian project is useful in some way: A breakfast cereal with vitamins. A hedonistic product offers more of an experience: A breakfast serious that’s magically delicious.  

We’re most forgiving of businesses with fun names AND useful purposes. This seems to hold true for all sorts of errors, ranging from faulty products, to insensitive comments from CEOs. Be fun. Be useful. But better yet: Don’t mess up. 

Read more here

So Fun! How Fun Brand Names Affect Forgiveness of Hedonic and Utilitarian Products – Shelly Rathee, Tamara M. Masters, & Grace F. Yu-Buck, Journal of Business Research

Leadership Changes You

In an experimental study of 445 participants, researchers found that moral reasoning skills are inversely related to power acquisition. That is, the more power you get, the less moral you become. 

That’s a pretty strong claim, but the evidence is compelling. In the study, participants were assigned roles with varying levels power: some participants were assigned more subordinates, and control over payout options, others were assigned fewer subordinates and less control. 

The moral reasoning skills of the participants were assessed by their responses to moral dilemmas…for example, whether it might be okay to prescribe an overdose of medicine to a patient in unresolvable, excruciating pain.    

The participants with more subordinates, and more payout options, tended to respond to the moral dilemmas in ways that were more self-interested, and less principled. 

The lesson here?  Most organizational models require both power and leadership to get things done. If you rise to the top of the power pyramid, mind your morality. 

Read more here

Does Power Corrupt the Mind? The Influence of Power on Moral Reasoning and Self-interested Behavior – Laura M. Giurge, Mariusvan Dijke, Michelle Xue Zheng, David De Cremer, The Leadership Quarterly

The Meaning Behind Vinyl Record Sales

In a marketing article published this spring in Business Horizons, researchers suggest that recent increases in sales of vinyl records signal a shift in consumer values.

Historically, vinyl records went the way of the dinosaurs when more portable, easily playable CDs hit the market. In turn, CDs died out when digital downloads made things even easier. 

So now, the cumbersome, finicky, vinyl records are back? How so?

The authors cite data that indicates vinyl record sales have increased by 30% each year since 2006. They also see emerging vinyl appreciation in Generation Z: One in four people, aged 18 to 24 bought a vinyl record in the last month. 

What does this mean? They predict our values are shifting away from convenience and cost-efficiency. Future marketing efforts are advised to focus more on themes around being hands-on, participation, commitment, small scale, and high quality. 

Read more here

Crafting Customer Insight: What we can Learn from the Survival of the Vinyl Record – Sebastian Schauman, Kristina Heinonen & Maria Holmlund, Business Horizons