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People willing to pay more for coffee that’s ethical and eco-friendly, meta-analysis finds

Overall, ecolabelling worked as intended: people were willing to pay for socially responsible coffee.

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Lesson for coffee biz…

Beyond how much cream and sugar to add to their morning brew, coffee lovers also face more serious decisions: one of those is whether or not to buy ecolabelled coffee, which advertises itself as more ethical and environmentally friendly. But whether customers are willing to pay the extra price for these perks remains an unanswered question.

In a study publishes in the journal Heliyon, researchers combined data from 22 studies to conclude that in general, people are willing to pay $1.36 more for a pound of coffee that’s produced in an eco-friendly way and are especially partial to coffee that’s labelled “Organic.”

“We hear in the media or sometimes read in the newspaper that there is an increasing number of ecolabelling logos in the market, and that these logos are sometimes related or even look alike. This may reduce consumers’ trust and willingness to pay over time,” says first author Nizam Abdu, a Ph.D. candidate and research assistant at the University of Tasmania in Australia. “However, our results show that coffee consumers in some selected countries are still willing to pay a positive and significant premium for ecolabelling.”

As many people’s go-to beverage, coffee’s enormous social, cultural, and economic influence makes it an ideal candidate for ecolabelling, a system that identifies and certifies certain products with ethical and environmental benefits. Common coffee ecolabels include Organic, Country of Origin Labelling (COOL), and Fairtrade (a certification that workers are given fair wages and safe working conditions) and aim to help consumers make informed choices on food safety, health, and environmental impact. However, it’s possible that having too many ecolabel options will instead confuse buyers, causing them to avoid buying ecolabelled coffee.

Many previous studies have tried to quantify the public’s opinion on different types of coffee ecolabelling. But the studies have varied dramatically in their estimates of how much consumers are willing to pay: some found that people are willing to pay more, while others suggest that people actually are less willing to pay for ecolabelling. As a result, it’s been challenging to present a standardized conclusion on the overall effectiveness of ecolabels.

Abdu and his co-author set out to address this gap. They combined data from 22 studies over the past fifteen years, forming an overall dataset of 97 observations across Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia. With their meta-analysis, they wanted to understand what factors give rise to the large range of price estimates and determine once and for all whether consumers are willing to pay more for coffee ecolabelling.

The researchers found that the variation in previous studies came down to a few factors: the region or country under study, surveying methods, types of ecolabels, and publication bias, the tendency for only studies with the desired outcome to be published. For example, there was a noticeable effect on the studies’ results when survey participants made yes/no choices about which coffee they’d buy versus when they were given trade-offs and budget constraints.

After taking these things into account, however, they found that overall, ecolabelling worked as intended: people were willing to pay for socially responsible coffee.

“In general, consumers are happy to pay a premium price of $1.36 for a pound of ecolabelled coffee. In particular, we clearly see that Organic is the most crucial coffee attribute,” says Abdu. The specific ecolabels of Fairtrade, COOL, and Organic all had values significantly larger than zero, but Organic ecolabelling had the highest value of the three – people were willing to pay an additional $1.14 per pound of coffee for just the Organic ecolabel.

That said, consumer attitudes still varied depending on factors like location. For instance, compared to other regions, people were less willing to pay more for ecolabelled coffee in North America, which may suggest that preference for such a labelling system varies across the regions. The researchers were also surprised to find that while people did care where their coffee came from, they didn’t necessarily prefer coffee that was produced near them. “I was expecting consumers would prefer locally produced coffee,” he says.

The authors say, however, that their finding still suggests a clear preference among consumers for certain types of ecolabelling. Abdu says, “Our findings are a good indicator that the policy of coffee ecolabelling is working in the global coffee market.”

Strategies

5 Practical ways to keep your finances safer online

Kaspersky’s fresh data for Q2 2021 showed a 60% increase in mobile banking Trojan attacks blocked in the region versus same period last year.

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Photo by Blake Wisz from Unsplash.com

Kaspersky reveals its Q2 2021 mobile threat report for Southeast Asia (SEA) where it has monitored a 60% uptick in the number of attacks using malicious mobile bankers detected and blocked in the region. 

Mobile banking Trojans – or bankers – are used by cybercriminals to steal funds directly from mobile bank accounts. These malicious programs typically look like legitimate financial apps, but when a victim enters their security credentials to try to access their bank account, the attackers gain access to that private information.

Overall, since the beginning of 2021, Kaspersky products have foiled 708 incidents across six countries in SEA. This is already 50% of the total number of mobile bankers blocked in 2020 which was 1,408.

Indonesia and Vietnam logged the most number of incidents during the first half of the year. However, globally, the two countries are not among the top 10 countries affected by this threat. Vietnam is only 27th and Indonesia is 31st as of June this year.

The five countries with the most number of mobile banking Trojan detections in Q2 2021 are Russia, Japan, Turkey, Germany, and France.

*Mobile banking Trojans attacks detected from users of Kaspersky mobile security solutions in the country

While the number of mobile banking Trojan attacks in SEA remains low, 367 incidents from April to June 2021 versus 230 detections during the same period last year, the continuing pandemic continues to force users to start using mobile payment systems.

“We are almost at the second year of the pandemic which has fast tracked the mobile payment adoption in the region at a breakneck speed. During the beginning of this health crisis, our survey already showed that the majority of internet users here have shifted finance-related activities online, like shopping (64%) and banking (47%),” comments Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

The same survey revealed that seven in 10 (69%) are worried about conducting financial transactions online and 42% of the respondents admitted to being afraid about someone accessing their financial details through their devices.

In addition, another Kaspersky report titled “Making Sense of Our Place in the Digital Reputation Economy” discovered that the majority (76%) of 861 respondents from SEA confirmed their intent to keep their money-related data away from the internet. The sentiment is highest among Baby Boomers (85%), followed by Gen X (81%), and Millennials (75%).

“Clearly, there is an awareness about the threats present when we do banking and payment transactions through our mobile phones. But there is still a gap between knowing and acting on it. So to help users from SEA embrace the power of their smartphone and also keep their finances safe, we suggest some practical tips but also encourage everyone to please look into using security solutions as a safety net in case they accidentally clicked a malicious link or downloaded a rogue mobile banking application,” adds Yeo.

Here are some practical tips from Kaspersky which you can do to beef up your money’s safety online:

1. Get a temporary credit card

Cyber criminals have developed incredibly sophisticated techniques and malware that can sometimes thwart your best efforts for safe online shopping. As another level of security for safe online shopping, you can use a temporary credit card to make online purchases, in lieu of your regular credit card. Ask your credit card company if you can be issued a temporary credit card number.

Just remember to avoid using these types of credit cards for any purchases that require auto-renewal or regular payments.

If a temporary credit card is not possible, an alternative is to use a credit card with a low credit limit.

2. Dedicate a computer to online banking and shopping

If you have more than one computer, it may be wise to dedicate one for online banking and shopping only. By avoiding using the computer for any other Internet browsing, downloading, checking email, social networking, and other online activities, you effectively create a ‘clean’ computer that is totally free of computer viruses and any other infections. For added security for safe online shopping, install Google Chrome, with forced HTTPS. This ensures you are visiting only secure websites.

3. Use a dedicated email address

Create an email address that you will use only for online shopping. This will severely limit the amount of spam messages you receive and significantly reduce the risk of opening potentially malicious emails that are disguised as sales promotions or other notifications.

4. Manage and protect your online passwords

Using strong passwords and using a different password for each online account is one of the most important things you can do for safe online shopping. We know it can be difficult to remember so many different passwords, especially when they are composed of numerous letters, numbers, and special characters. But you can use a password manager to aid you in keeping strong passwords for multiple accounts.

5. Use a VPN

If you absolutely must shop online while using public Wi-Fi, first install a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN will encrypt all data that is transferred between your computer or mobile device and the VPN server, preventing hackers from hijacking and viewing any sensitive data you input.

In the Philippines, Kaspersky endpoint solutions like Kaspersky Total Security (KTS) that have a password manager and  VPN features is currently included in its 9.9 promos in Shopee and Lazada.  Filipino customers can enjoy up to 50% discount.

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Ending prices with ‘.99’ can backfire on sellers

Researchers found that this “just-below” pricing makes consumers less likely to upgrade to a more expensive version of the product or service, such as a bigger size or higher-end trim on a car.

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Setting a price just below a round number ($39.99 instead of $40) may lead consumers into thinking a product is less expensive than it really is – but it can sometimes backfire on sellers, a new study shows.

Researchers found that this “just-below” pricing makes consumers less likely to upgrade to a more expensive version of the product or service, such as a bigger size or higher-end trim on a car.

The just-below price that makes a product itself seem like a good bargain also makes the leap to the premium product seem too expensive, said Junha Kim, lead author of the study and doctoral student in marketing at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

“Going from $19.99 to $25 may seem like it will cost more than going from $20 to $26, even though it is actually less,” Kim said.

“Crossing that round number threshold makes a big difference for consumers.”

Kim conducted the study with Joseph Goodman and Selin Malkoc, both associate professors of marketing at Ohio State.  Their research was published yesterday (Aug. 26, 2021) in the Journal of Consumer Research.

The threshold-crossing effect held for everything from coffee and face masks to streaming services to cars and apartments in seven different experiments, Goodman said.

“We found this effect works in experiential categories, as well as products. It replicated very consistently,” he said.

In one field study, the researchers set up a coffee stand on the Ohio State campus for two days, rotating the prices regularly.  About half the time, they offered a small coffee with a “just below” price of 95 cents or a larger cup upgrade for $1.20. In order to choose the upgrade option, customers had to cross that $1 round-number boundary.

Roughly every hour, they changed the price of the small cup to $1 and increased the price of the larger cup by 5 cents to $1.25.

While the larger cup was now more expensive than before, so was the smaller cup. Critically, both prices were on the same side of the $1 boundary, which the researchers predicted would make customers more likely to choose the upgrade.

How did customers respond?  Well, 56% of them upgraded to the larger cup when they didn’t have to cross the round-number boundary to upgrade ($1 to 1.25). But only 29% did when the smaller cup was at the just-below price of 95 cents and they had to cross the $1 threshold for the larger cup.

“In other words, we sold more of the large coffee when it was objectively more expensive than it was earlier ($1.25 vs. $1.20),” Malkoc said. “It was amazing how increasing prices – from a $1.20 to $1.25 – actually increased sales. It is a testament to how strong the effect was.”

The effect also worked for larger purchases with multiple upgrade options, findings showed.

In one study in the lab, college students were more likely to say they would choose a more expensive car and apartment option when the base price was just above a round number rather than just below.  That included scenarios where participants had multiple upgrades to choose from.

These findings fit in well with studies that have found threshold-crossing effects in other parts of life, Kim said.

“Research has shown that going across a state boundary makes a destination seem farther away,” Kim said.  “It is crossing that threshold that makes a difference. In our studies, the round number is like the state boundary, magnifying the perception of a difference in price.”

One reason that this effect works so well is that people often don’t have a good idea of what the “right” price of a product or service should be, Goodman explained. So consumers look for some context to help understand if what they’re buying is expensive or inexpensive.

“For many of the things we purchase, price is perceptual.  We have a feeling about whether the price is right or not,” Goodman said.

“In our study, people often said an upgrade purchase seemed less expensive when the base price was above the round number, even though it was objectively more expensive.”

There are some conditions where the threshold-crossing effect doesn’t happen.  One is for small price differences on expensive items.  It also doesn’t work on people who are familiar with prices for a product or service – for example, those who book hotels on a regular basis.

People who know prices well aren’t affected because they don’t rely on their perceptions, as many of the participants in this research did, Malkoc said.

“As consumers, we need to realize that our perceptions are often flawed.  We need to rely on actual numbers and not just our sense of what the numbers are,” she said.

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Not enough women and minorities apply for a job? Change the recruitment committee

A large study of recruitment data suggests a simple and efficient way of increasing diversity in applicant pools: have more diverse recruitment committees and leadership teams.

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Unsplash.com

Amid calls for racial and social justice nationwide, businesses and educational institutions are grappling with how to adopt more inclusive organizational practices, including more diversified hiring. However, recruitment teams and strategic leaders often blame their lack of a diverse workforce on a lack of diverse applicants. A large study of recruitment data suggests a simple and efficient way of increasing diversity in applicant pools: have more diverse recruitment committees and leadership teams.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Houston’s Center for ADVANCING Faculty Success and published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology, found that when the search committee chair for a job is a woman, 23% more women apply for the job than when the search committee is led by a man. What is more, over 100% more underrepresented minorities (URM), such as Hispanics and Blacks, apply for the job when the recruitment is led by a URM chair as opposed to a non-URM.    

CONCEPT OF HOMOPHILY

In the context of workplace diversity, the concept of homophily – an affinity for similar others – has developed a bad reputation for furthering systemic barriers to opportunity for minority groups. In fact, homophily, if utilized wisely, can be leveraged to increase the representation of women and underrepresented minorities, according to Maryam A. Kazmi, a Ph.D. candidate at UH and the study’s first author.    

“There is something that women and URM recruiters are doing differently than men and majority group members that encourages more women and URM applicants to apply for a job,” she said. 

The study, an analysis of three years of recruitment data for tenure-track faculty jobs at a large, public research university, shows that one of the ways in which women and URM recruitment leaders are affecting applicant pools is by appointing more women and URM to participate on the search committees they lead. These women and URM search committee members, together with the leads of recruitment teams, disseminate job ads more widely, specifically to more women and URM potential applicants who then apply in greater numbers. But what motivates them to do so? 

Christiane Spitzmueller, professor of psychology at UH and a study co-author, said that women and URM recruitment leads and team members rely on their own experiences in developing applicant pools. 

“Women and underrepresented minority recruiters have likely experienced the same structural barriers to entry and career progress that the potential applicants may face. Their own experiences of inequity may make them likely to have a soft spot for similar others facing similar issues. This might motivate women and minority recruiters to work harder to ensure that they do what they can to ensure that more women and URM are made aware of the job opening and are encouraged to apply,” she said. 

RECOMMENDATIONS

The researchers make a number of policy recommendations for human resource professionals, supervisors and other company executives to ensure more diverse applicant pools, which include: 

  • Posting the job ad on women/minority-specific websites
  • Cooperating with the organization/institution’s diversity and inclusion offices to develop a diverse list of candidates to contact
  • Posting the position ad through department chair listservs
  • Calling women or colleagues from historically underrepresented backgrounds to get possible candidate names/recommendations on who to recruit
  • Using personal networks to recruit
  • Including language in the job ads promoting the diversity of the department and university to prospective candidates

The study found that women and URM recruiters tend to use different strategies to affect applicant pool diversity, says Juan Madera, study co-author and professor at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at UH. 

“We found preliminary evidence that women recruiters are more likely to use personal networks to identify and target women/URM applicants, whereas URM recruiters are more likely to use more formal strategies of increasing applicant pool diversity. For example, cooperating with the institution’s diversity and inclusion offices to develop a diverse list of candidates to contact and posting the job ad on women and minority-specific websites,” he said.   

“Women and URM continue to be underrepresented in workplaces. The diversification of applicant pools constitutes an important step for broadening the participation of women and URM in the workforce,” says Paula Paula Myrick Short, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Houston. “This study provides evidence of practical steps that organizations can take to increase their applicant pool diversity.”

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