Dressing down sexy saleswomen can boost sales

Washington: When a person with low body esteem tries on an article of clothing and sees an attractive shopper or salesperson wearing the same thing, he or she is less likely to want the item, a new research has found.

“Our work shows that consumers often focus on parallel consumption behaviors from others to inform their product decisions—i.e., people look to others in the store environment as an information source when shopping,” write authors Darren W. Dahl (University of British Columbia), Jennifer J. Argo (University of Alberta), and Andrea C. Morales (Arizona State University).

In the study, the negative evaluations did not occur if the other shopper was merely carrying the item or if consumers didn’t try on the item but saw someone else wearing it.

The authors demonstrate that consumer reactions to social information will differ depending on whether or not consumption behaviours are aligned.

“For example, when a low body esteem consumer sees a dress on another consumer in the store but is not trying it on herself, she might think to herself, ``That dress is really cute and stylish!`` Similarly, if a low body esteem consumer tries on a dress in a store but does not see any other consumers wearing the same dress, she might think to herself, ``This dress is really cute and stylish on me!`` However, if she sees a dress on an attractive consumer in the store and is trying on the same dress herself, as she looks in the mirror she now thinks to herself, ``That dress is really cute and stylish on me, but compared to her, I look terrible!”

Consumers who have low body esteem are more likely to be influenced by other shoppers than by salespeople, the authors found.

The study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research.


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