CNN Money: Rude sales people can boost luxury sales

Apparently, rude sales people and fancy brands go well together.

Morgan Ward, SMU, rude sales people, SMU Cox

Rude sales people at luxury retailers actually boost sales, according to new research by SMU Cox School of Business Assistant Professor Morgan Ward.

Ward and a co-researcher discovered the surprising fact after studying the purchasing desires of customers treated rudely by sales people at up-scale stores. They reported their findings in the Journal of Consumer Research in “Should the Devil Sell Prada? Retail Rejection Increases Aspiring Consumers’ Desire for the Brand.”

CNN Money CNN Money reporter Patrick M. Sheridan covered the research with the article “Rude sales people can boost luxury sales.”

Ward is an assistant professor of marketing. Her research interests are consumer behavior, identity and gift-giving. Her teaching interests include consumer behavior, brand management, retail merchandising and marketing management.

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EXCERPT:

By Patrick M. Sheridan
CNN Money

At least that’s what a recent study shows. Shoppers appear to want to buy more of the high end brands after being treated badly, according to research conducted by two professors.

They said this kind of behavior is driven by an inherent human nature of wanting to prove they belong in an exclusive club.

“As upsetting as it is to be condescended to, in a luxury environment it appears to work in the brand’s favor,” said Morgan Ward, who teaches at Southern Methodist University. He said it’s about wanting to be “part of the tribe” or the in-crowd.

Ward co-authored the research paper, which was based on several scenarios in which participants interacted with phony salespeople they thought worked for upscale brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton or Burberry. Some of the people posing as sales staff were rude and some were not.

Related: Inside Louis Vuitton’s success
Surprisingly, customers in the simulations had an increased desire to buy the luxury goods after being treated rudely. In fact, the ruder they were, the higher the desire to buy the posh items.

That’s exactly how it went down in real life with McKenzie Kirby, a 21-year-old accounting major from Urbana, Ill., who likes to shop at luxury stores.

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