Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bud Gal and sexy POP displays

“Hi, I’m a larger-than-life, bikini-clad, point-of-purchase display.

“I’m just hanging out with three of my friends at the end of aisles in a convenience store somewhere in rural Oklahoma.

“We’re here to increase Bud sales. At least that’s what I was led to believe.”

Good question: Do sexy POP displays have any influence on sales?

My guess is “yes.” I find it difficult to believe that this truly one-dimensional Bud Gal—and others like her—have no affect on beer sales.

The Research
At first glance research fails to support this perception. A 1984 study published by Marjorie Caballero and Paul Solomon in Journal of Advertising tested the influence of physically attractive models on POP displays for both beer and tissues. They found that good looking models failed to encourage men to buy more beer: “males tended to buy beer from displays depicting male models rather than from those depicting female models” (p. 21). Equally as interesting, they found that “low attractiveness” (read: ugly) models sold more tissues.

Reading deeper into the article we discover that Caballero and Solomon were only testing facial attractiveness. Basically they included mug shots of high, medium, and low attractive models or no photo at all. In other words, the images tested in their study are a far cry from the POP image shown here.

How sexy POP displays work
My guess is that marketers and retailers are very aware of the influence of POP displays. First, it’s a way to bring attention to your product just as consumers are making a decision. If you are a brand-switcher, and really don’t perceive a difference between Miller and Budweiser, the momentary gratification of a sexual image might get a sponsor the nod.

Last, let’s not forget that sexual information evokes a small but perceptible positively emotional response in most people. Especially domestic beer drinkers, right? When in such a state, one is more likely to make the impulse purchase: “Okay, I’ll get a 12-pack instead of a six.”

I’d be curious to see the research showing Bud Gal’s influence on sales. I bet she sells more Bud (and perhaps more Kleenex) in convenience stores she inhabits.

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