luxury retailers

Can being rude to customers actually boost your sales stats?

September 3, 2014
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luxury retailers

Do snobby sales staff increase sales?

If you have ever gone into an upscale retailer that you could never afford because you were too young or too broke, you know the feeling of a coiffed employee with a turned up nose who could smell the product adoration on you that exceeds that of someone who would send their stylist to purchase their daily wear. Did that make you want to buy anything to prove them wrong, or punch the pencil-mustached dude in a suit?

Obviously, we don’t condone the latter, but according to the Journal of Consumer Research, you and the majority of people simply wanted to drop coin to prove that snobby jerk wrong.

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You see, luxury retailers are taking advantage of the basic need for approval, and most people sociologically have to fit in and belong, so instead of being insulted and walking away by turned up noses, they shell out the cash.



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Snobby staff got offers of $7,000 more per car than friendly staff

In order to study this phenomena, study participants took part in a simulated car-shopping experience for a Toyota. Some participants began their shopping experience with being looked up and down in a disapproving way by an actor posing as a dealership employee, and others were treated in a friendly manner as expected.

Instead of turning customers away from the brand, the participants with the snobby sales staff were more willing to snatch up that imaginary car, offering an average of $7,000 more for it than members of the control group did.

How will this work in other industries?

The study reveals that the higher-priced and more aspirational the brand (think Prada, Fendi, Mazerati, and so forth) that rejects a person, the more willing they were to spend money just to prove that the sales staff’s perception of them is wrong.

Likely, some will simply read the headlines the study is generating and start acting like a-holes, but there is a catch to this study – consumers did not respond so well to rejection from a downmarket brand (think Old Navy, Hyundai, Kohl’s), because it is only when the rejection goes against the way we want to be perceived that we whip out our credit cards in spite to prove a point.

So before you go acting like a jerk to your clients, consider your brand. If you sell discount furniture, being a snob to those you’ve attracted to a discount sale will probably backfire, but if you’re a high end interior designer, getting your clients to shell out more cash may be as easy as very subtly hinting that they can’t afford it.

Perhaps the takeaway here is that if someone wants to be perceived as capable of affording your product or services, issuing a challenge might extend your mileage, but it is most certainly a risk (unless you’re Ralph Lauren himself, of course).

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