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Someone Stop Them! Science Says Snobby Salespeople May Be The Most Effective

We've all made a big mistake. Huge.


If you’ve ever gotten the stinkeye from a clerk and responded by spending far more than your allotted LEGO budget, you can now take comfort in knowing you’re not alone: a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research says customers respond to snobby salespeople by proving their worth with their wallet.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Darren Dahl, explains:

It appears that snobbiness might actually be a qualification worth considering for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or Gucci[…]Our research indicates they can end up having a similar effect to an ‘in-group’ in high school that others aspire to join.

As depressing as it is to acknowledge I’ve perpetuated juvenile exclusivity with my hard earned money, I can definitely remember instances where I’ve felt an obligation to prove my relevance, worth and even “nerd cred” after picking up on a store’s “you are an outsider” vibe (whatever, guys. You can’t afford me).

Study participants were asked to evaluate their desire to be associated with high-end brands and then imagine their behavior in hypothetical circumstances or past situations. Test subjects who coveted luxury products were more likely to make large purchases in imagined or past interactions where they were treated poorly, but the “hard to get” route was only effective in instances where the salesperson appeared to be an accurate reflection of the brand.

The “asshole technique” appeared to be less effective at mass market stores, so don’t worry– Target’s security team (the height of rudeness!) didn’t magically increase anyone’s desire to shop there. Dahl also says that salespeople have to earn the right to douchebaggery: “Our study shows you’ve got to be the right kind of snob in the right kind of store for the effect to work.”

Thank God shopping is all online now. The only one who can judge me there is myself.

(via Neatorama, images via The Simpsons)

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