The Rules Of Make-Up and Cosmetic Retail: Good Looks Don't Sell

by Tanya Thomas on Aug 18 2009 8:08 AM

If you're a cosmetic retailer looking to sell big, here's an insider's tip - employing an attractive salesgirl on the shelf would be a real bad move. A recent study has revealed that young women do not like to buy their make-up from better looking women.

The research has debunked the myth that female shoppers will want to be like her and buy what she wears or uses.

The study's author, Bianca Price, of the University of South Australia, said that those surveyed reported that they felt intimidated by more attractive sales staff.

"If (the staff) were incredibly attractive, for the average girl that would be quite confronting and threatening, and often result in reduced purchasing intentions," she said.

Price, 27, conducted the study as part of her PhD and interviewed 341 female university students between the ages of 18 and 26.

She selected a mix of photos of conventionally attractive and unattractive women, which she then used as hypothetical staff members in focus group interviews.

She matched the photos of the women with two products, mascara and a mobile phone, and asked respondents to assess their attractiveness compared with the women and then to imagine how they would respond to the person if they were selling the products.

The study found that the decline in purchasing intentions was not as pronounced for the mobile phones as it was for the mascara.