Sexy Models Don’t Always Mean Higher Sales

Quite often, attractiveness affects persuasion, and yet sometimes it does the opposite, according to a study by Janne van Doorn and Diedrick A. Stapel of Tilburg University (the Netherlands).

Four experiments were conducted in the study and the results suggest that context is key when it comes to the effectiveness of an attractive model.

The outcome shows that looks are most effective when the model appears right before the advertisement with the product. In fact, the authors confirm that when attractiveness is served as a cue, the impact is general and affects the evaluations of both the advertised and non-advertised products equally.
However, when an attractive individual and the product are paired simultaneously, consumers respond more specifically to the one advertised product. Furthermore, the evaluation of that product is also affected. Evaluations for non-advertised products remain unchanged.

Consumer’s motivation for self-improvement, particularly for beauty-enhancement products, also plays a major role. According to the study, clients who believed that they can strongly better themselves may accept the attractive advertisement with the model as relevant along with other products related to the same brand.

The study also found that consumers with no reported need for self-improvement did not see an endorser’s attractiveness as a powerful argument for purchasing the advertised product.

The authors of the study concluded that the effectiveness of using attractive people in advertising depends greatly on how attractiveness is placed in the ad.

This conclusion is obviously common sense, along with research to support it. But what’s interesting is that it confirms that people are not going to buy a product just because it has an attractive model endorsing it. Timing and marketing research is of the essence for an advertisement to be persuasive.

Source: The Journal of Consumer Research

Author: Alejandro Adrian LeMon, Ph.D., LMHC

A little about me... I'm a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Florida and the founder of Psychology One. I am also a former college instructor of sociology and I have worked at several not-for-profit agencies & EAP organizations. I currently live with my fiancee and our three cats.

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1 Comment

  1. There is one test make by “Dove” tm product for skin care. They created advertisement on TV where ordinary average looking womans used their creme and they got a lot better results instead having a model doing avertisement.

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