Women more likely to purchase items when models look like them

Joanna Douglas, Shine Staff
Rex Features
Rex Features

Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint exactly which ads work and which don't, but after Cambridge PhD student Ben Barry studied 3,000 women in the UK, US, and Canada on their shopping behaviors, he made a discovery. His results prove that ladies prefer seeing models who resemble their own age, size, and race, and are more likely to purchase the items they're selling. "If you speak to consumers on the street about my research, nobody is surprised--consumers are light years ahead of the fashion industry in that they want to see diversity," Barry told the Guardian.

We're not really shocked either. While one study last year claimed plus-size models cannot sell clothing, we conducted our own poll and 53% of women said they would prefer to see models who look like them. So when will retailers all catch on and realize that diverse models who look like all of us will also help sell the goods?

As the Guardian points out, in the UK, two magazines that use non-models, Brigitte and Essentials, have seen an upswing in newsstand sales. Another magazine called Look uses more plus-size women, and they've done well considering this period of tough magazine sales. We've seen more plus-size models like Crystal Renn used in photo shoots and campaigns recently, but magazines in the US still have a long ways to go in terms of diverse representation of women. And many women in magazines and ads who do have curves are slimmed down and airbrushed to absurdly thin proportions. Lets hope advertisers and magazine editors will take note of studies like Barry's and consider using a more diverse group of women to display and sell their products. After all, pleasing the consumer should be their main priority, right?

How do you feel about the type of women represented in ad campaigns? Take our new poll and weigh in below in the comments.

Related links:
Shu Pei for Maybelline and the rise of Asian models
Model Kate Dillon speaks out-about being too skinny, too plus-size, and what's up with the Crystal controversy
Supermodels without Photoshop