December 28, 2007 / 3:33 PM / 12 years ago

Sex sells but so does an attractive salesperson

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Shoppers are more likely to buy something and would pay more for an item if it is sold by an attractive salesperson, particularly of the opposite sex, according to a Canadian study.

A salesperson displays a Wi-Fi phone at the Computex computer fair in Taipei June 6, 2006. Shoppers are more likely to buy something and would pay more for an item if it is sold by an attractive salesperson, particularly of the opposite sex, according to a Canadian study. REUTERS/Richard Chung .

Even if a shirt had been used and had not been washed, some consumers were willing to pay more for it if they knew the person who had worn it was attractive.

“If a shirt had been touched by someone who is highly attractive and of the opposite gender, the shoppers evaluated the products higher and they’re willing to drop more money on it,” said Jennifer Argo, a professor at the University of Alberta School of Business.

Argo, Darren Dahl of the University of British Columbia and Andrea Morales of Arizona State University studied the reactions of 300 shoppers who were assisted by an attractive model and an average looking salesperson trying to sell a shirt said to be the last in the store.

The researchers found that both male and female shoppers who saw the attractive model leave the changing room with the shirt were willing to try it on next.

“If the shopper was of average attractiveness, the participant evaluated the shirt negatively. But if it was the opposite gender and they were highly attractive, the participants were willing to pay more,” Argo explained in a statement.

“The results show that it’s worth having highly attractive people work there. Or if you can’t, at least have the staff dress well and be well-groomed and maximize their potential.”

In the second part of the study which will be published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the researchers questioned only male shoppers who were assisted by female models and salespeople. The men tried on a shirt which the salesperson said she had worn the shift before.

Afterward the men were asked how much they liked the shirt, if they would buy it and how much they would pay for it.

“The dirty shirt won for the men when the salesperson was highly attractive,” Argo said.

“It’s like they were trying to get her essence.”

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