How customers react to salespeople's flattery

Washington, Sept 11 (ANI): A new study by Indian origin scientist has found that consumers have negative reactions to flattery by salespeople, even if they think the compliments are sincere.

However, disliking a salesperson doesn't mean a customer won't buy from the store.

Authors Elaine Chan from Tilburg University and Jaideep Sengupta from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology- conducted four experiments in clothing stores to investigate consumers' reactions to salespeople's flattery.

In each case, participants heard salespeople making flattering comments about other customers' sense of style. Then researchers asked various questions about their opinions of the salespeople. The authors focused on flattery that could be judged sincere, although they also examined reactions to flattery that observers would judge insincere, like when a salesperson offers profuse compliments before a customer makes a purchase.

It was found that when participants had time to form thoughtful, deliberate responses they tended to have positive opinions of the flatterers. But gut reactions to flattery were far more negative.

"These implicit reactions towards seemingly sincere flattery are as negative as when the observer has good reason to believe that flattery is actually insincere," the authors said.

The authors also found that observing someone else being flattered causes people to compare themselves to that person, which leads to feelings of envy.

It was suggested that consumers were motivated by envy to choose an expensive, stylish pair of jeans over a cheaper standard pair.

The authors concluded that over time, envy-based hostility towards the salesperson is no longer a part of the purchase decision; instead, this decision is influenced primarily by the wish to reduce envy-by appearing stylish oneself.

The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research.(ANI)

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