Shoppers 'put off' by pretty staff


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Shoppers 'put off' by pretty staff - , - Latest news & weather forecasts - MSN News UK


Shops that hire attractive staff can put off female shoppers, according to an academic study.

Researchers found that women were less likely to buy a product if they thought the shop assistant was better looking than them.

Bianca Price, of the University of South Australia, said that many women viewed attractive assistants as "a direct social threat".

She said: "Women are biologically competitive - if they consider that a female is a direct social threat, it may affect their behaviour in that context.
"Retailers often think that beautiful is better. In the same way they use a celebrity to endorse a product, they hire a beautiful girl thinking that it reflects the brand and that other women will want to be like her. It doesn't always work like that - women may not consider celebrities a direct social threat, but they might consider the girl at their local shopping centre to be one."

Ms Price studied the behaviour of a group of women aged 18 to 26 when confronted with an attractive or unattractive staff member.
She found they were less likely to buy a product if they felt the staff member was better looking than them.

Ms Price said: "Retailers need to understand that beauty can affect their bottom line. The solution lies in hiring women of all shapes and sizes, someone for each of your potential customers to relate to."

The research was released in the week it was revealed that a student with a prosthetic arm won her case for wrongful dismissal by Abercrombie & Fitch.
Riam Dean, who was born with her left forearm missing, claimed she was forced to work in the stockroom of the US firm's London store because she did not fit its strict "look" policy.


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I think that the article is interesting. I don't feel as though I have ever not bought a product because I felt threatened by someone's looks, although I will do that if they are being rude or unreasonable.
Although, I do think that it is wrong to hire someone based on looks unless they are directly in the modeling industry. Perhaps retailers should save the beauties for the promo pics and put hardworking, honest people out to sell the product, not just pretty people.


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Great article and it centainly makes you think.

I personally think it has more to do with the attitude of the person, if they look approachable and friendly (amazing what a smile can do) I feel comfortable regardless of what they look like.

If however they look as if they think they are above the job they are doing then I will take a wide pass and find someone else to help me.


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I just want to buy from someone who is nice and knowledgeable about what they are selling. Nothing makes me more mad than someone who doesn't know anything about the products that they sell. Looks aren't really a factor for me in who I purchase stuff from.


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They must have polled some pretty insecure women. I couldn't care less what the salesperson looks like aside from basic hygiene. All that matters is their attitude and their willingness to help, or their knowledge on the product.


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What the person looks like isnt really a factor in my purchasing. However attitude most definately is! Bad attitude has definately stopped me from getting something. No matter how much I want it. I'll find it some where else.


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I'm just the opposite - maybe because I'm a very secure - if I see a very pretty woman especially if she is wearing product from the store I'm shopping in, I always compliment them & ask what they are wearing etc. & usually having a nice short little conversation with them.


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If I like a product, I will buy it from whomever knows it and is knowledgeable of it. We all have flaws..even those that have "the look".


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Whether the sales associate is pretty or not, it never bothered me, all I know is she has access to MAC if I shopping at MAC if I need it or anything else I might need when I'm shopping elsewhere, so I'm not going to care what they look like if I wanna buy something I want. lol!

But damn, talk about insecure women!

Shadowy Lady

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Rude SA's or the ones with better than though attitude annoy me. i don't see why ppl would care if the SA is pretty or not :/


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Although I don't feel like I make my purchasing decisions based on the SA's looks... I do like the idea of stores hiring people of all shapes, colors and sizes .

I've definitely gotten along better with SA's I can relate to and probably purchased more just because we talked more. But, part of what that was is that she was very very nice and not judgmental at all.

I personally hate feeling out of place in a store because all their associates fit a mold... I obviously like their products too if I'm in the store looking to purchase and I want my interest to be represented.


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I guess for me that is a factor, but not as a whole. It really has nothing to do with me thinking that the sales associates are "threateningly hot", it has more to do with "what image of beauty is this company trying to sell". At MAC a lot of the MAs are very beautiful, sometimes in a very classic high fashion way and other times in a very unconventional way. I'm a whole lot more likely to buy something from a company that has a variety of beauty rather than from a company with just one cookie cutter image. I get the feeling that when you have a variety, people start to say "well that could be me" instead of "I'll never be like that so why bother?"


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wow, I find this really interesting considering I live in Adelaide, South Australia, and I even go to the University of South Australia!!!

I have no idea where this Bianca Price got these statistics from, but I'm presuming it was probably just from sitting in the mall (which is 10 mins walk from the Uni) and watching people...

Personally I dont care whether the SA is pretty or not as long as they are good at service and know what they are talkinig about


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I agree with Frocher - I'd like to see the stats and target demographic. Age isnt always the only important component. Sociceconomic factors in research studies are critical, particularly when it comes to analysing behaviour, and I would like to see the variables in the study.


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inetersting article. however i know that i don't ever make a purchase based on somebodies looks! i buy something because i like the product - not because i think i'm hotter than the person selling it to me!


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I agree that it has do with the approachability of the person. Someone "beautiful" people are very accessible (and I also agree it's usually a *warm* smile) while others often appear bitchy, unapproachable (sending a vibe that they have way better things to do than help you) and/or share an apparently *fake* smile.

I am less likely to seek help/assistance from one of the latter, and it is possible that I would leave the store if there attitude was making me uncomfortable.

Reading the article, I have to wonder about the actual research and the conclusions drawn. It would appear based on the way it is written that the researcher simply asked the question "did you think the saleswoman was more attractive than you?" and then compared it to whether they actually bought anything or not. That is VERY different than asking "Did you not buy the item because you thought the saleperson was more attractive than you?" Drawing the conclusion from the first scenario could be flawed on many levels.

I actually find it almost offensive and discrediting to women in general if it was just an assumption made that it was the looks that and "intimidation of social threat" that made the women not purchase. How were attitudes and knowledge of salesperson addressed in the research? How was need for product addressed?

Plus (agreeing with frocher and panda0410), what's a "group"? It could be 10 to 1000+. But the use of the word "group" versus a number referenced, leads me to believe it is probably on the lower end.

I know I'm nit-picking the survey, but I've never not bought something (and I don't know anyone that hasn't) because I think someone is prettier than me.