Snobby Store Employees Only Make Us Want To Spend More

Is being sneered at an important part of the luxury shopping experience? Maybe. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that high-end retailers take advantage of our human need to belong and seek approval in order to vacuum more money out of our non-designer purses.

How do you simulate disapproval? Study participants took part in a simulated car-shopping experience for a Toyota vehicle. Some participants began their shopping experience with being looked up and down in a disapproving way by an actor posing as a dealership employee.

Did this experience turn potential customers away from the brand? Nope. They ended up even more willing to make a purchase of the imaginary car, offering on average $7,000 more for it than members of the control group did.

While this car-buying example used a mid-range brand, Toyota, the higher-priced and more aspirational the brand that rejects a person, the more willing they were to spend money to prove the perceived slight wrong.

However, researchers also found that consumers weren’t as responsive to rejection from a downmarket brand: it’s when rejection goes against the way we wish to see ourselves that we pull out our credit cards out of spite.

Eyeing that pricey handbag? Prepare to be insulted [NBC]
October 2014 [Journal of Consumer Research]

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