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May 17, 2023

How Marketing “Groundedness” Increases Willingness to Buy // Local Marketing Insider #059

The major idea: people seek groundedness in life and when they shop and are willing to pay more to find it - 60% more.

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This week, I came across a paper in the Journal of Marketing: “Connecting to Place, People, and Past: How Products Make Us Feel Grounded” - written by a team of academics from Austria.

The major idea: people seek groundedness in life and when they shop, they are willing to pay more to find it - 60% more.

Digitalization, urbanization, the pandemic and a general existence that’s fast-paced, mobile and at times largely virtual leaves many feeling untethered. 

A few generalized examples of these consumers:

  • People that work primarily on a computer for work
  • People who live in big cities
  • People more affected by the pandemic

For these groups, marketing elements of “groundedness” in your products can instigate an increase in willingness to buy, the paper estimates +60%.

In response to a persistent feeling of being unanchored, “we observe consumers trying to reconnect to place, people and past” and consumers do so through what they buy.

  • Place: We like buying locally. Near our homes and communities.
  • People: We like knowing who we’re buying from. And relating to those people.
  • Past: We like things that connect us to the past, like traditional production methods.

Similar to what I wrote about in LMI 55 about the positive influence of negative reviews, the study found that the value associated with groundedness is moderated when the product is less important to the consumer’s identity.

Example guidance on how to elicit groundedness:

Place can be brought out by “artisanal” or highlighting the local origin of the product. Stories, processes, team members and themes that show a connection to the locality.

People can be brought out with stories of the founders or connections to specific team members.

Past can be accessed through elements of product design or retail assortment. The example used in the paper was traditional cutlery design vs modern design. The traditional design draws upon a connection to the past. The impact of a product is reliant on your buyer having “a high chronic need to connect to the past preferred the more traditional cutlery.”

Targeting Groundedness in Your Reviews

The Campaigns tool in Widewail is a great way to use targeted messaging to encourage reviews on a specific topic. Here are some sample campaigns to target place, people and past.

Review campaign focused on “Place”

Automotive: “We’re celebrating 75 years of business right here in [City Name] and we’d love to hear from customers like you about your experience with us over time. Would you mind leaving us a review?” 

Multifamily: “Our community prides itself on our central location and proximity to local parks and schools. Would you mind leaving us a review about how has our location impacted your experience living here?”

Retail: “Would you mind leaving us a review? We’d love to hear how our locally sourced products influenced your experience with our brand.”

Review campaign focused on “People”

Automotive: “At our dealership, connecting with customers individually is very important to us and we’d love to hear how we did. Would you take a minute to leave us a review and tell us about your experience with our team?

Multifamily: “Would you mind leaving us a review? If our company’s longstanding connection with the community was impactful for you, we’d love to hear why!”

Retail: “Would you take a minute to leave a review? Our team works hard to ensure every customer is satisfied, and we’re eager to hear how we did today!” 

Review campaign focused on “Past”

Automotive: "Congratulations on your new [truck model]! One of [brand]’s most iconic models, the [model] is our new take on an old favorite. Let us know what you thought in a review!" 

Multifamily: “The lobby renovation is complete! We went for a mid-century modern vibe and we hope you love it! Let us know what you think by leaving us a review.” 

Retail: "The [name] is one of our most classic and timeless products and we’re so happy you picked it! Please let us know how your new [product] makes you feel. Would you mind leaving us a review?”

Thanks for reading! Psychology is always helpful when trying to find new marketing angles which is why I love articles like this.
If this groundedness angle has relevance to your business I recommend giving it a shot.


See you in 2 weeks - Jake, Marketing @Widewail


Jake Hughes

I’m the Director of Marketing here at Widewail, as well as a husband and new dad outside the office. I'm in Vermont by way of Boston, where I grew the CarGurus YouTube channel from 0 to 100k subscribers. I love the outdoors and hate to be hot, so I’m doing just fine in the arctic Vermont we call home. Fun fact: I met my wife on the shuttle bus at Baltimore airport. Thanks for reading Widewail’s content!

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