Get this. Women prefer to buy clothing that’s advertised by women who look like them.
It shouldn’t take a PHD to that figure out. But it did.
Model agency founder (and academic) Ben Barry wanted to prove different types of models could have an effect on the way women shop for clothes and accessories.
Tired of the assumption that models are merely “clothes hangers”, he wanted to look into how the age, race and size of a model influences purchasing decisions – and show that skinny models and “unreachable beauty” don’t translate to sales.
So he created a series of mock fashion ads – each was identical, save for the “models who varied in size, age and race but all wore the same Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress” – and spoke to 2500 women of varying ages and sizes.
He asked them which model would make them want to buy the dress and he found women increased their purchasing intentions by more than 200% when the models in the mock ads reflected their size and by more than 175% when the models reflected their age.
He also found black consumers were 1.5 times more likely to purchase a product advertised by a black model.
This is significant, writes Barry, because “While one side of the debate over model diversity argues that curvy models should replace thin ones — assuming that one model is universally more effective than another — I find that every model type can be effective. Their effectiveness depends on whether the model shares the consumers’ traits.”
The models who fill the pages of the women’s magazines and populate the billboards and pop up on retailers’ Web sites are as skinny, young, and white as they ever were. Making a well-reasoned appeal for diversity on behalf of the bottom line, however, just might work.
In Elle Canada, Barry wrote: “Contrary to long-held marketing wisdom, fashion ads don’t need to lead women to aspire to an unattainable ideal to sell products. Instead, women will buy fashion when models convey a realistic, attainable image and make them feel confident; they will continue to demand the products to maintain the advertised look and their feelings of empowerment.