Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Pretty Woman Effect

Call it the Pretty Woman effect: rude, disparaging and snotty sales staff of the type encountered by Julia Roberts' call-girl character in the 1990 film, actually make us want to buy more – but only if they're peddling high-end wares.
 
That seems to be the conclusion of a Canadian study entitled 'Should the Devil Sell Prada? Retail Rejection Increases Aspiring Consumers' Desire for the Brand', due to be published in the October issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.
 
University of British Columbia researchers asked volunteers to imagine they were shopping at either designer or high street stores, where the sales staff (played by actors) were either welcoming or la-di-da. Those who encountered snootiness later said that they wanted the designer goods more, with those who aspired to own luxury goods especially influenced by salespeople's mean demeanour. There was no such effect for more downmarket brands like H&M or Gap.
 
"This only worked for brands and stores that customers would aspire to, truly luxury brands like Burberry or Gucci," said Professor Darren Dahl who led the research.
 
Dahl put the findings down to customers' desire to fit in and be accepted by these aspirational brands. In other words, snobbishness is a desirable qualification to have when selling luxury brands (think Louis Vuitton or Gucci).
 
Last Saturday morning, I managed to catch the golden sunrise across the beautifully calm sea that is the South China Sea:
 











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