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Science Says the Ruder the Sales Staff, the More We Buy

Imagine the following scenario: You decide to treat yourself to a nice pair of shoes. We're talking Prada. Something that you would never typically buy, but for whatever reason — you won the lottery and have a hankering for shoes or something — today is the day. You walk into a Prada store, and right away, you notice something. Every sales person is treating you like you don't exist. They're straight up ignoring you. What do you do next? No, you don't walk out in a huff, after you've given the ever-effective bird to the entire sales staff. You buy a pair of shoes.

Believe it or not, but there's some science behind this. According to Darren Dahl, a marketing professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, people actually buy more when they're treated rudely. In his paper, titled "Should the Devil Sell Prada? Retail Rejection Increases Aspiring Consumers' Desire for the Brand," Dahl explained exactly how it happens.

Dahl asked participants to either imagine an interaction with a sales rep, either rude or not. He also asked some people to participate in a mock sales situation. Again, some sales people were rude, some were not. After each interaction, the participants were asked to rate their feelings about the brands that they were paired with. Those who were treated badly ended up having more positive feelings about the brands. Interestingly enough, those who were paired with high end brands reported the highest desire to buy the product.

So what was happening? Dahl's inspiration for the experiment actually sheds some light on that. Dahl said he got the idea from a personal experience, where the salesperson was rude to him. Instead of simply not giving his business to the store, he bought more than he had originally intended to. Why? “I wanted to show that I did belong in the store and I could afford it," Dahl told CTV in Vancouver. In other words, it's sort of an immaturity thing. We want to make sure they know we belong, so we overcompensate. And the more expensive the product, the more we want to show we're in the "cool kids club."

"It appears that snobbiness might actually be a qualification worth considering for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or Gucci," Dahl explained to the University of British Columbia's site. "Our research indicates they can end up having a similar effect to an ‘in-group’ in high school that others aspire to join."

Dahl's study is something to keep in mind, should you even find yourself in the scenario we described. The best way to show them you belong isn't to buy more than one pair of Prada shoes. If a sales person is rude to you, don't be immature and buckle to the pressure. Instead, break a stink bomb in one of the dressing rooms and then leave.

[Image via Flickr - Dnc]

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