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Attractive Shoppers' Influence on Our Purchases

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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

If you’ve picked up any fashion or beauty magazine in the past 10 years, you would have stumbled upon articles about dressing for your body type. There is a strategy and an art to making certain clothes look best on different people, but it’s not always easy to spot the right items for your body type when you’re out and about.

And while the Journal of Consumer Research hasn’t crafted the ultimate shopper’s guide to "dressing for your body type", they have unearthed evidence as to how not to get you to buy certain clothing.

In an article to be printed in February 2012, the Journal of Consumer Research found that people who don’t feel positive about their appearance are less likely to buy an item they’re trying on if they see a good-looking shopper or salesperson wearing the same thing.

Seeing a good-looking person wearing an item you want can dissuade a shopper with low self-esteem and on some subconscious level let you know that item is not best for your body type. Or if nothing else, sends you a message that it’s better suited for the attractive person’s body type.

The researchers say that this phenomenon only occurs when both an attractive shopper and the shopper with low self-esteem are trying on the clothing at the same time. The shopper with the low self-esteem sees how good the attractive person looks in the clothing and the difference between how the two look is magnified. Ultimately, the low self-esteemed shopper puts the clothing back on the rack and leaves the store.

For their experiment, researchers asked female participants to go into a retail store and try on a certain shirt. An employee inside, in cahoots with the researchers, showed some participants an attractive shopper already wearing the same shirt, as if by coincidence.

After trying on the shirt, the shoppers were asked to fill out surveys evaluating the clothing and their own body esteem. Those with low self-esteem rated the product significantly lower if they had encountered the pretty shopper wearing the same item.

The effect was not as profound when workers at the store or consumer models wore the clothing.

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