Why Reflect Reality?

Our open air office, part of a bigger tented world!

Why reflect reality? It’s been a wonderful weekend of disruptive behaviour in the idyllic setting of a Montreal national beauty spot where I gave talk to explore belief systems as part of an emotional intelligence presentation. Thanks Mastered.com for inviting me.

As many expressed in powerful ways, hearts were open to the benefits of creating a broader range of body and beauty ideals in fashion. Discussing entrenched mindsets and beliefs around body type, inherited from an industry predisposed to portray mostly narrow visions of humanity we considered our power to activate small changes. The sticking point was clients. Everyone needed help to incentivise the clients or brands they were working with to embrace change. I referenced Dr. Ben Barry’s ground-breaking study...

Why reflect reality: an exploratory study on the effectiveness of traditionally attractive models and realistically attractive models in fashion and beauty advertising (Barry & Bell, 2007).

Caryn and Dr Ben Barry

An associate professor at Ryerson University, Barry has created some excellent support for those of us looking to shift mindsets. I first met him as co founder of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk and we've been united in our desire for progress ever since. These powerful findings mean that the benefits of diversity are translated as cash. Cold hard cash people! This quote of Barry's summarised findings makes for powerful reading no?

“My study found that women increased their purchase intentions by more than 200% when the models in the mock ads were their size. In the subgroup over size 6, women increased their purchase intentions by a dramatic 300% when they saw curvier models. Conversely, when women saw models who didn’t reflect their size, they decreased their purchase intentions by 60% and women over size 6 dropped their purchase intentions by 76%

My results weren’t limited to the issue of size. Consumers increased their purchase intentions by over 175% when they saw models who reflected their age; in particular, women over the age of 35 increased their purchase intentions by 200% when they saw older models. When models didn’t reflect their age, consumers decreased their purchase intentions by 64%. Furthermore, black consumers were 1.5 times more likely to purchase a product advertised by a black model.

The numbers paint an interesting picture, but they don’t tell the women’s stories: Why did women increase purchase intentions when models looked like them? In the focus groups, women explained that they could better picture themselves in the dress advertised by similar models. They could imagine how the dress would flatter their shape, how the aesthetic would suit their age and how the colours would complement their complexion. One woman, on viewing a similar-looking model, put it this way: “I’d buy the dress in an instant because [the model] looks like me. I can see how this dress will hug my curves in all the right spots.”

Models were chosen with racial diversity in mind

Dear creatives, keep in touch let me know how it's going on twitter @Caryn_Franklin

NB The above content is the intellectual property of Dr. Ben Barry, Judge Business School, Cambridge University. Any comments reproduced here must be entirely attributed to him.

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