The Skinny on Marketing to Women

Despite the worldwide trend of using (relatively) healthier looking models in runway shows and advertising campaigns, a new study published in Advertising Age suggests females still prefer stick-thin women to hawk fashion and beauty products.

The study, conducted at Villanova University, presented the puzzling conclusion that ads featuring thin models made women feel worse about themselves but better about the brands featured.

The 194 female college students aged 18-24 interviewed for the study felt more negative about their own sexual attractiveness, weight and physical condition after seeing thin models and were also four times more likely to say no to Oreos offered to study participants than those who had yet to view the images.

Despite the fact that these ads made the study participants feel worse about themselves, the women expressed that they would rather buy the products featured in the ads with thin models than in the campaigns featuring more "normal" women (sorry Dove!).

The subject requires further research, since recent studies from University of Sussex and University of West England showed conflicting results, concluding that ads featuring ultra-thin models do negatively impact self esteem, but in fact don't sell products better than ads featuring more realistic models.

Though I can't say I approve, I can definitely see the logic that using thinner women would lead to higher sales. It's simple and it's essentially the same technique used in the heyday of tobacco advertising. For the slow learners:

Women want to be beautiful. Society (not JUST advertising) tells us that thin is beautiful. Women see thin woman using Product X. Women buy Product X to be more like the glamorous model depicted. Women buy more and more of Product X (and Y and Z) in order to continue the neverending quest for perfection.


blog template by suckmylolly.com : header hand photo by Aaron Murphy