What a coincidence! Personal connections improve sales

Jul 20, 2009

If a salesperson shares a birthday or a birthplace with you, you're more likely to make a purchase and feel good about it, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"This research examines how the fundamental human need to connect with others plays a role in sales encounters," write authors Lan Jiang, JoAndrea Hoegg, Darren W. Dahl (all University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC), and Amitava Chattopadhyay (INSEAD, Singapore).

In one of the studies, a personal trainer introduced participants to a fitness program. People who discovered that they shared the same birthday with the trainer reported that they liked the program better and were more interested in purchasing a membership.

In another study, patients who learned that they were born in the same place as a dentist reported a more favorable attitude toward the dental care they received and showed a higher willingness to book their next appointment with that same clinic.

"Across individuals, we found that naturally social people are more responsive to such coincidences," write the authors. "On the other hand, people who tend to isolate themselves from the outside world are less sensitive."

The researchers concluded that revealing personal information helps service providers create connections and initiate conversations with customers. When information is provided on nametags (as Disney does with employees' hometowns) or on websites (as many health organizations and fitness centers do), most consumers react positively. However, when service providers exhibit negative behavior, like rudeness, the shared similarity loses its positive influence.

Finally, faking a connection is not an effective sales tactic. "Creating misleading or fake similarities with a customer as a persuasion technique could lead to negative outcomes if the similarities are found to be disingenuous," write the authors. "To mitigate the chances of this outcome, salespeople must be careful not to falsely claim similarities."

More information: Lan Jiang, JoAndrea Hoegg, Darren W. Dahl, and Amitava Chattopadhyay. "The Persuasive Role of Incidental Similarity on Attitudes and Purchase Intentions in a Sales Context." : February 2010 (published online June 26, 2009).

Source: University of Chicago (news : web)

Explore further: Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

More than meets the tongue

Feb 12, 2007

Does orange juice taste sweeter if it's a brighter orange? A new study in the March issue of the Journal of Consumer Research finds that the color of a drink can influence how we think it tastes. In fact, the researchers found ...

Extended service contracts: When and why do people buy them?

Jun 15, 2009

Consumer experts have long recommended against buying Extended Service Contracts (ESCs) with products, since they are rarely cost effective. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research examines the reasons why so man ...

Recommended for you

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

12 hours ago

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

15 hours ago

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...