- - Saturday, June 27, 2015

Does sex-appeal always lead to increased sales? What about religion-appeal?

The Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice released an article titled, “Consumer Reactions to Retailer’s Religious Affiliation.

I can’t say that I had ever heard of this journal before today. And, given that it costs $40 to view the one article online, I can’t say that I’ve read it.

So, thanks to the Association of Religion Data Archives for providing us with a synopsis of this study, and connecting it with other journal articles, too. This is very helpful.

David Briggs writes:

Companies that are open about the importance of Christian and Jewish values in their corporate culture and mission have significantly more appeal to highly religious consumers who share that faith, a new study indicates.

However, companies that show some signs of wanting to appeal to religious consumers, but are not perceived as sincere in those efforts may alienate consumers who consider religion to be important in all aspects of their lives, researchers found.

So, if your business has elements of faith in its DNA — genuinely, and not simply for the sake of marketing — then customers who share that faith are more likely to show up at the door of your business.

But what about the head-to-head competition between sex-appeal versus religion-appeal? Well, that seems to depend on whether the consumer has “ties to religion” or not.

Briggs then discussed findings from the Journal of Business Ethics:

A person with little or no ties to religion is more likely to buy a product if the ad portrays a woman in a negligee enticing her man to spend money on redecorating the bedroom.

That same consumer is more like to lose interest if the ad features a smiling model more modestly dressed endorsing a product in a respectful appeal to the woman buyer, researchers from the State University of New York at Albany and the University of Texas at Tyler found in a study involving 216 young adults ages 19 to 32.

Place the same images before a highly religious person, however, and the reactions are reversed. Highly religious individuals are more likely to view the sexual ads as unethical.  They are more likely to spend their money when ads focus on the features and benefits of the product.

In other words, this study seems to indicate that one’s faith actually makes a difference in how one responds to advertising. That’s good to know.

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