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Rude Staff Good For Luxury Business

Update Date: Apr 29, 2014 07:32 PM EDT
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Remember in "Pretty Woman" when Vivian was snobbishly rejected from a clothing store on Rodeo Drive? We all felt bad for her, but new research reveals that having snobby staff is good for business.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business found that consumers who are ignored by a high-end retailer actually become more willing to purchase and wear pricey outfits.

"It appears that snobbiness might actually be a qualification worth considering for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or Gucci," researcher and Sauder Marketing Professor Darren Dahl said in a news release. "Our research indicates they can end up having a similar effect to an 'in-group' in high school that others aspire to join."

In the study, participants rated their feelings about associated brands and desire to own them after imaging interactions with rude or accommodating sales representatives. The study revealed that those who wanted to be associated with high-end brands reported an increased desire to own the luxury products after being treated poorly.

However, the effect was only true when the salesperson appeared to be an authentic representative of the brand. Researcher noted that the consumer was turned off when salespeople did not fit the part.

The study also revealed that snobby salespeople did not enhance impressions of mass-market brands.

"Our study shows you've got to be the right kind of snob in the right kind of store for the effect to work," said Dahl.

Furthermore, improved impressions from rudeness faded over time. The study revealed that consumer who reported increased desire to purchase the products after being brushed off reported significantly diminished desire two weeks later.

The findings are published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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