Why the devil sells Prada: Study says snobby staff good for business


  • People
  • Thursday, 01 May 2014

Beware the snooty sales person, as a new study suggests that haughty staff can actually drive consumers to buy more.

Customers more inclined to splurge when treated poorly by rude salespeople.

A new study may shed light on why high-end, luxury boutiques are often staffed by haughty, snobby sales associates: turns out, they’re better for sales.

According to researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, when participants were treated poorly by rude and snooty sales staff, the customer experience actually increased people’s desire to splurge and make big-ticket purchases.

This was true for those who had expressed a desire to own an article from the big-name brands.

Cheekily titled, “Should the Devil sell Prada?” the study will be published in the October issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

The hypothesis? That the uppity, snobby service, which many expect from luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, only serves to reinforce their reputation as high-end, posh labels reserved for the social elite.

“Our research indicates they can end up having a similar effect to an ‘in-group’ in high school that others aspire to join,” said study co-author Darren Dahl.

For the study, participants were instructed to rate their feelings about the brands and their desire to make a purchase after different types of interactions – both real and imagined – with sales representatives.

When interacting with “authentically rude” sales associates, turns out participants expressed a greater desire to dig deep and splash out on an item.

That desire, however, faded significantly with time – and the return of common sense.

Want to avoid Pretty Woman, Vivian-type confrontations (watch video below), commission-hungry sales staff and the watchful, disdainful gaze of snobby staff?

Bypass the bricks-and-mortar boutiques and peruse at your leisure by shopping online. – AFP Relaxnews

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