Fashionistas are gonna LOVE THIS!! Interesting finding on the link between designer labels and perception of success, published in The Economist, on a study conducted in The Netherlands.
A recent study found that people who wear visible designer logos are perceived to be more capable and valuable than those who wear middle-of-the-road duds.
Researchers at Tilburg University in the Netherlands showed subjects two videos of the same guy wearing a polo shirt on a job interview. In one clip, the shirt had a designer logo and in the other, his shirt had no logo. The subjects rated the man with the luxury shirt “more suitable for the job”. And they suggested a salary that was nine percent higher than the salary they recommend for the dude without the logo.
The researchers repeated the experiment again, but this time, the man was asking for charitable donations. When wearing a designer shirt, he got double the amount of donations as compared to when he wore a non-designer number.
Rob Nelissen and Marijn Meijers of Tilburg University in the Netherlands examined people’s reactions to experimental stooges who were wearing clothes made by Lacoste and Tommy Hilfiger, two well-known brands that sell what they are pleased to refer to as designer clothing. As the two researchers show in a paper about to be published in Evolution and Human Behavior, such clothes do bring the benefits promised: co-operation from others, job recommendations and even the ability to collect more money when soliciting for charity. But they work only when the origin of the clothes in question is obvious.
In the first experiment, volunteers were shown pictures of a man wearing a polo shirt. The photo was digitally altered to include no logo, a designer logo (Lacoste or Hilfiger) or a logo generally regarded as non-luxury, Slazenger. When the designer logo appeared, the man in the picture was rated as of higher status (3.5 for Lacoste and 3.47 for Hilfiger, on a five-point scale, compared with 2.91 for no logo and 2.84 for Slazenger), and wealthier (3.4 and 3.94 versus 2.78 and 2.8, respectively).
… In another experiment, volunteers watched one of two videos of the same man being interviewed for a job. In one, his shirt had a logo; in the other, it did not. The logo led observers to rate the man as more suitable for the job, and even earned him a 9% higher salary recommendation.
Charitable impulses were affected, too. When two of the team’s women went collecting for charity on four consecutive evenings, switching between designer and non-designer shirts, they found that wearing shirts with logos brought in nearly twice as much—an average per answered door of 34 Euro cents (48 cent US) compared with 19 euro cents when logo-less. It seems, then, that labels count. The question is, why?
The answer, Dr Nelissen and Dr Meijers suspect, is the same as why the peacock with the best tail gets all the girls. People react to designer labels as signals of underlying quality. Only the best can afford them. To test that idea, they checked how people responded to a logo they knew had cost the wearer nothing. To do this, they asked their volunteers to play a social-dilemma game, in which both sides can benefit from co-operating, but only at the risk of being taken advantage of.
This study confirms a wider phenomenon. A work of art’s value, for example, can change radically, depending on who is believed to have created it, even though the artwork itself is unchanged. And people will willingly buy counterfeit goods, knowing they are knock-offs, if they bear the right label. What is interesting is that the label is so persuasive.