It’s true.  Recent research in the Journal of Marketing Research has discovered that attractive sales staff do have a positive effect on sales rates.

In the experiment, college age people were asked to enter a shop and ask for a specific T-shirt. They were told they were taking part in a mystery shopping exercise but in fact the salesperson was part of the research team. The ‘mystery shopper’ was told that there was only one tee-shirt of that kind left and somebody was actually trying it on in the changing rooms.

The female shopper in the changing room was also a research team member: and was either a very attractive model, or an average looking student type. When the changing room researcher left, saying the shirt wasn’t the right fit, she made sure she could be seen and heard by the ‘mystery shopper.  The mystery shoppers (especially the male ones, but the female ones too, to a lesser extent) gave the T-shirt a higher rating if they’d seen it in the hands of the model girl.

To test the effect further, a different experiment was designed. When the mystery shopper asked for the tee shirt, he or she was told that the boutique made its employees wear the merchandise that the shop sold, and that the only remaining T-shirt of that kind was one that she’d worn the day before. Then she presented the shopper with the shirt, either in a dry-cleaning wrapper or just on a hanger, as if it hadn’t been cleaned. If the salesperson was average looking, the mystery shopper would prefer the shirt that was in the dry cleaning bag, but if she was highly attractive, the shopper preferred the non-cleaned shirt!

This effect has implications for work-wear in circumstances other than pure retail. If your staff wear promotional clothing, and look clean, well-groomed and presentable, they are likely to be more effective, and be viewed more positively, by the people they come into contact with, thereby creating a positive brand image. If, on the other hand, they are unkempt or dirty, the association in people’s minds will be very negative, and will attach a bad impression to your company.  So perhaps if you have a sloppy Joe on the team, you should smarten him or her up, or move them out of the public eye!

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