Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How Do Consumers React to Flattering Salespeople?

We've all had the experience of being flattered by a salesperson or hearing another customer being complimented effusively.  According to new research by Elaine Chan of Tilburg University and Jaideep Sengupta of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to be published in the December, 2013 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, reveals, as you might expect, that both the flattered customer and surrounding listeners experience an immediate negative emotional reaction.

Yet the effect of overheard flattery on shoppers is not what you might expect: The authors found that observing someone else being flattered causes the listener to compare themselves to that person, which leads to feelings of envy. And, these shoppers were motivated by envy to choose an expensive, stylish pair of jeans over a cheaper standard pair influenced primarily by the wish to reduce envy -- by appearing stylish oneself."

Interesting, no?  Something to think about when talking to one customer within earshot of other shoppers.

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Story source: Elaine Chan, Jaideep Sengupta. Observing Flattery: A Social Comparison Perspective. Journal of Consumer Research, December 2013.


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