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How GMO labels affect customer decision making with food purchases

This research reveals that GM labels add an important product feature for consumers to evaluate. The labels draw attention away from factors such as price, allowing firms to charge a premium for non-GM products.

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Researchers from Neoma Business School, Concordia University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that examines how the GMO labeling that policymakers implement affects consumer choice.

The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, is titled “GMO Labeling Policy and Consumer Choice” and is authored by Youngju Kim, SunAh Kim, and Neeraj Arora.

Genetically modified (GM) foods are widespread worldwide, but they are also controversial and subject to regulatory oversight. For example, in the United States, all GM foods will be required to display a “Bioengineered” label by 2022, a policy decision that is heavily debated. Most scientists claim that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods are safe for human consumption and offer societal benefits such as better nutritional content. In contrast, many consumers have an overall negative attitude toward GMOs. These conflicting views create a fundamental tension for policymakers in how GM-foods should be labeled.

To reconcile the diverging views that scientists and consumers have on GMOs, policymakers all over the world adopt either a voluntary or a mandatory GMO labeling policy. In a voluntary labeling regime, food producers who make non-GM products disclose such information through a “non-GMO” label. Conversely, in a mandatory labeling regime, food manufacturers are required to include labels such as “contains GMO” when their foods are genetically modified.

To understand how GMO labeling policies impact consumer choice, this research team conducted four studies.

Study 1 examines whether consumer choice depends on the GMO labeling regime. The results show that each labeling regime greatly affects consumers’ demand for GM foods. Labels such as “non-GMO” (absence labeling) and “contains GMO” (presence labeling) serve as negative signals for GM foods and tend to shrink their market share. The market share shrinkage effect is stronger under the mandatory policy (presence labeling) than under voluntary policy (absence labeling).
 
Study 2 examines the impact of GMO labeling (absence vs. presence) on consumers’ sensitivity to the GMO attribute, price, and category purchase. The results show that presence-focused labeling (“contains GMO”) makes consumers more sensitive toward the GMO attribute, less sensitive toward price information, and more reluctant to make a purchase in a category. Why? Presence-focused labeling enhances consumers’ concerns about GMOs, encourages them to pay greater attention to GMO information, and makes their choice more difficult. 
 
Study 3 finds that the increased preference for non-GM products is amplified when both “non-GMO” and “contains GMO” labels are displayed on the products.
 
Study 4 shows that the signal policymakers decide to send via the GM label (e.g., a green logo may be viewed as an endorsement and a yellow logo as a cautionary signal) significantly affects consumer choice. To be more specific, participants exposed to positive GMO labels tend to be less negative toward GMOs than those exposed to neutral GMO labels. A GMO label format has a greater impact on consumers who have no strong opinions about GMOs, suggesting that preference for GM foods is highly pliable for a large segment of consumers. 
 
Consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for non-GM products critically depends on the policy regimes and the label policymakers adopt. Consumers have higher WTP for non-GM products in the mandatory (vs. voluntary) regime and when the adopted GMO label signals a less positive image. Across studies, both the voluntary and mandatory labeling regimes create incentives for firms to add premium-priced, non-GM products to their portfolio of offerings. These incentives are substantially greater in the mandatory labeling regime than in the voluntary regime. 
 
The research teams says that “Our findings provide a clear understanding of how the GMO labeling that policymakers implement affects consumer choice. Any form of GMO labeling has significant externalities.” GMO labeling reduces the demand for GM foods. The signal contained in the GMO label also affects consumer choice. Even a neutral GMO label may lead consumers to focus on the negative aspects of GMOs, pay less attention to price information, and become more reluctant to make a purchase in the product category. Unlike the positive “Bioengineered” logo that the Unites States adopted, the label in Brazil is a yellow triangle resembling a caution sign. Therefore, the externalities of GMO labeling noted in this study will be larger in Brazil.
 
What are the takeaways for marketers? This research reveals that GM labels add an important product feature for consumers to evaluate. The labels draw attention away from factors such as price, allowing firms to charge a premium for non-GM products. GM manufacturers inevitably lose market share when presence-focused labeling is enforced. They face both reduced brand share and reduced category demand. Because mandatory presence-focused labeling makes consumers less price-sensitive, GM food manufacturers may attempt to compensate for their sales loss by considering promotions other than price cuts.

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LinkedIn lists top startups in PH, highlights rise of digital entrepreneurship, entertainment, education

The Philippines has always had a strong MSME (micro, small, and medium enterprises) sector. The pandemic further propelled its growth as Filipinos embarked on micro or solo entrepreneurship to augment their income and overcome financial challenges.

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LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, revealed its inaugural Top Startups in the Philippines list, which highlights the local startups that have shown resilience in an uncertain market environment and are continuing to innovate in 2022.  

LinkedIn analyzed data across four pillars to compile the list: employee growth, jobseeker interest, the attraction of top talent, and engagement with the company’s LinkedIn page and its employees. This is the first time LinkedIn has introduced the Top Startups list in the Philippines.

Satoshi Ebitani, Senior Managing Editor, LinkedIn News, said: “In an uncertain financial climate, what has proven resilient time and time again is the enterprising spirit that startups embody, especially those on this year’s LinkedIn Top Startups list. In the Philippines, we see a diverse mix in sectors such as e-commerce, education, and entertainment, which continue to lead the way in the future of skills by embracing innovation and attracting top talent with their robust cultures. Through this list, we hope to spark meaningful conversations surrounding the future of work and inspire professionals to equip themselves with the necessary skills to thrive, no matter the headwinds.”

New era of entrepreneurship

The Philippines has always had a strong MSME (micro, small, and medium enterprises) sector. The pandemic further propelled its growth as Filipinos embarked on micro or solo entrepreneurship to augment their income and overcome financial challenges. This new class of entrepreneurs behind startups such as SariSuki (#2), Shoppertainment Live (#3), Edamama (#5), Growsari (#6), Peddlr (#9), and Prosperna (#10) met opportunities to respond to the demands of the times.

Entertainment, E-sports, and Education companies are thriving 

The success of the live-streaming platform Kumu (#4), led by local creatives and talent, highlights the country’s growing demand for innovative and interactive digital entertainment that champions Filipino voices and perspectives. Meanwhile, gaming and e-sports company Tier One Entertainment (#1) shows the unique potential of this lucrative industry by investing in talent and technology.

“Investing in automation, the right people, and experienced leadership who are open to feedback and the ever-changing status quo of our industry was key for surviving and growing during the pandemic. Pivoting quickly through setbacks is vital to survival in these times,” Tryke Gutierrez, Co-Founder and CEO of Tier One Entertainment, said. “LinkedIn has helped us tell our story to the world. We’re able to share more long-form content that isn’t as readily digestible on other social media platforms to an audience that is more open to serious or nuanced discussion,” he added.

Education technology (Edtech) platform Edukasyon.ph (#8) saw an opportunity to be of service in response to the disruption in the education sector and emerging concerns about the future readiness of today’s youth.

Growth areas in digital finance

As digital finance becomes more mainstream in the Philippines, the rise of  PDAX (Philippine Digital Asset Exchange) (#7), a homegrown cryptocurrency exchange, indicates the Filipinos’ growing interest in exploring new frontiers in personal finance and investments to diversify and optimize their portfolios, navigate the current economic climate, and benefit from future growth potential.     

The top 10 startups in the Philippines are:

  1. Tier One Entertainment
  2. SariSuki
  3. Shoppertainment Live
  4. Kumu
  5. Edamama
  6. GrowSari
  7. PDAX (Philippine Digital Asset Exchange)
  8. Edukasyon.ph
  9. Peddlr
  10. Prosperna

More details on the LinkedIn Top Startups list in the Philippines are found here.

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Cash may not be most effective way to motivate employees

84 per cent spent more than $90 billion annually on tangible employee rewards, such as gift cards, recreation trips and merchandise in hopes of increasing productivity. 

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Tangible rewards motivate employees when they’re easy to use, pleasurable, unexpected, and distinct from salary, a new study found. 

A recent survey of firms in the US revealed that 84 per cent spent more than $90 billion annually on tangible employee rewards, such as gift cards, recreation trips and merchandise in hopes of increasing productivity. 

“We found that there is, at best, mixed evidence regarding the motivational efficacy of tangible rewards versus cash rewards,” said Adam Presslee, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Accounting and Finance. “It is somewhat puzzling why so many companies go to the trouble of tangible rewards when cash rewards also lead to motivational differences.”

Presslee and his co-author, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Willie Choi, used four experiments to investigate the factors driving the preference between cash and tangible rewards. The attributes examined include ease of use of the reward (fungibility), hedonic nature of the reward (want vs. need), the novelty of the reward, and how the reward is presented. 

“Rewards are constellations of attributes, and firms should focus more on the motivational effects of the attributes associated with a reward rather than the reward type itself,” Presslee said. “Results confirmed that each of these attributes – individually and in combination – increases employee effort and performance.”

The researchers recommend managers interested in motivating employees using tangible rewards would be best served to offer tangible rewards that incorporate these four attributes.

“If for whatever reason tangible rewards are the only tool available, our results show compelling evidence that employees are motivated by rewards that are perceived as distinct from salary,” Presslee said. “Therefore, firms looking to get the most out of their reward programs should emphasize the distinctiveness of those rewards, and the attributes above are four ways firms can do that.”

The study, authored by Presslee and Choi, was recently published in the journal Accounting, Organizations, and Society.

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Engaging leadership style may boost employee engagement

Supervisors perceived as engaged leaders in the initial survey did indeed enhance employee engagement as captured in the second survey. This impact appeared to occur via a boost in employees’ personal psychological resources of optimism, resiliency, self-efficacy, and flexibility—these results are in line with evidence from previous studies.

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A new analysis suggests that a particular leadership style dubbed “engaging leadership” can boost employees’ engagement and enhance team effectiveness within the workplace. Greta Mazzetti of the University of Bologna, Italy, and Wilmar Schaufeli of Utrecht University in the Netherlands present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

An employee who is engaged typically has a positive state of mind relating to their work and shows vigor, dedication, and absorption in their work. Previous research suggests that more engaged employees tend to have greater well-being and better job performance.

Previous research also suggests that a certain style of leadership known as engaging leadership—involving leaders who fulfill employees’ need for autonomy, feeling competent, and feeling cared for—may boost employee engagement. However, most studies of workplace leadership styles have focused on a single point in time, without analyzing potential effects over time.

To provide new insights, Mazzetti and Schaufeli explored the impact of an engaged leadership style on work engagement and team effectiveness of 1,048 employees across 90 teams within a Dutch workplace. Participants each took two surveys, one year apart, which included questions about their supervisors’ level of engaging leadership, their own work engagement, and other personal and team characteristics.

Statistical analysis of the responses suggests that supervisors perceived as engaged leaders in the initial survey did indeed enhance employee engagement as captured in the second survey. This impact appeared to occur via a boost in employees’ personal psychological resources of optimism, resiliency, self-efficacy, and flexibility—these results are in line with evidence from previous studies.

Similarly, engaged leaders appeared to enhance team effectiveness by boosting team resources, which consisted of performance feedback, trust in management, communication, and participation in decision-making. Team resources also appeared to affect individual employee engagement.

These findings support the use of engaging leadership to boost employee engagement and team effectiveness in the workplace. Future research could compare the effects of engaging leadership versus other leadership styles on employees and teams over time.

The authors add: “A leader who inspires, strengthens and connects team members fosters a shared perception of available resources (in terms of performance feedback, trust in management, communication, and participation in decision-making), and a greater psychological capital (i.e., self-efficacy, optimism, resilience, and flexibility).”

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