The way people are portrayed in advertising influences consumers' reactions, according to Hanna Berg’s doctoral thesis at the Stockholm School of Economics.
In the dissertation "Faces of Marketing: Examining Consumer Responses to Depictions of people in marketing", Hanna Berg shows that consumers react differently to the traditional images of models and the images of models that are cropped so that their heads are not included in the image, often used in online shops.
- The images of headless female models had a positive effect on attitudes and purchase intentions among female consumers. In contrast, the images of headless male models had negative effects, says Hanna Berg.
Even headless mannequins had effects on consumers' reactions. Among other things, these gave better results for consumers with extensive knowledge of fashion and clothing. The results from the studies with the headless models and mannequins are theoretically interesting and are also important for how companies should reason about images of people in their marketing.
- There is a perception that images of models and mannequins need to look a certain, fairly stereotypical, way to be effective but that is not directly based on research, says Hanna Berg. These studies show that models and mannequins actually not even need heads in order to generate positive effects.
The thesis also shows the positive effects of using pictures of smiling models in advertising. Because the emotions that we see other people express is contagious, pictures of smiling models lead to greater happiness, which in turn leads to more positive attitudes. The increased joy that consumers experience is an example of a positive side effect of marketing, which often is criticized for having a negative impact on society.
The defense is a public event and takes place on Tuesday September 22 at 10:15 at Stockholm School of Economics (room 550), Sveavägen 65.
For further information, please contact:
Hanna Berg, PhD, Center for Consumer Marketing, Stockholm School of Economics
Photo: Juliana Wiklund, 2015.