Nasty Salespeople And Why We Still Buy From Them

by TheWritingCowboy

A salesperson may be rude or snooty or even offensive but there’s something that drives people to still buy products from them. Why is that?

Have you ever shopped in a ‘high end’ store for some luxury or brand name item and were made to feel like you were two inches tall by a snobby salesperson? Maybe it was at a Gucci Store or Cartier? High end could mean the local Nordstrom if you are typically a J.C. Penny shopper. But wherever it was what did you do about it? Walk away? Give the salesperson a lecture in good manners? Probably not, suggest social science researchers. In fact, you probably did just the opposite.

Recently a study was conducted that looked into this and discovered something interesting about us. Despite our having been treated badly by a store clerk (yes, I know the clerk would probably dispute their having treated you badly, but just go along with me here, ok?), when we feel rejected by a clerk we actually feel an increased desire for the product the salesperson was selling. Yes, when you are looked at like you don’t measure up to the ‘standards’ of a particular store or department you are likely to have an increased passion for the very item you are told or made to feel like you aren’t suited for.

Scientists at Southern Methodist University conducted the study and said people “are profoundly attuned to social threats and are driven to buy, wear and use products from the very people who are disrespectful to us. So, we may be beaten down but we still want than high priced handbag? Yup, that’s what the researchers are saying. 

But why would we put up with that?

The researchers say it’s all about the luxury – everyone would like to have it, whatever luxury might mean to him or her personally. So, if a luxury brand’s salesperson makes you feel rejected you want the item even more. That wouldn’t be true for a brand that you perceive as ‘non-luxurious.’ Again, ‘luxury’ is in the eye of the beholder but in general we’re talking about higher priced items, distinctive name brands and the kinds that are marketed in ways as to be clearly associated with wealth or celebrity.

The study also found that this behavioral pattern may explain why many people find that online purchasing is so pleasing – there’s no one online who will look down their nose at you or look at you and assume your clothing or appearance makes you an unlikely or unsuited buyer for the item you want to buy from them. The online experience is much less intimidating. In the online world – places like Amazon – it’s as simple as whether or not you have the means to buy whatever you want. There’s no salesperson to give you ‘attitude’ at all.

What Should Companies Do?

Despite the psychological impact a snooty salesperson may have on you it’s not a behavior upscale stores say they are looking for in their employees. The brands and companies are very well aware that bad customer experiences can have very negative effects no matter who the customer may be. And, say the researchers, snootiness can take place in any setting it just seems more evident in upscale locations.

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Updated: 08/21/2014, TheWritingCowboy
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DerdriuMarriner on 04/09/2022

Revisiting this wizzley made me wonder about online experiences.

My experiences seem to be positive but I've heard other people talking about one call to an online business being unpleasant and unproductive and the next call being pleasant and productive. Would the former situation have become more or less prevalent than the latter what with all the changes since COVID?

frankbeswick on 07/14/2017

If a sales person is snooty or nasty to me, I just walk off.

frankbeswick on 07/14/2017

If a sales person is snooty or nasty to me, I just walk off.

DerdriuMarriner on 07/14/2017

TheWritingCowboy, Why is it that stores replace one misbehaving employee with another if "Despite the psychological impact a snooty salesperson may have on you it’s not a behavior upscale stores say they are looking for in their employees"?

Telesto on 08/23/2014

I am such a stroppy mare that if I get bad treatment, I most frequently walk out. Especially if it's something I can easily get elsewhere. I've boycotted shops for years for the same reason. If it's something special and unique, I ask to see the manager. I don't put up with poor service.

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