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Can A Face Help You Sell More? Research From SNCR Symposium

You've seen the cliché, scantily models draped over cars, you like the model, and by extension the car. Yes, there’s an advertising myth that sex sells... but is it true?  Well, Joseph Carrabis, Senior Research Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research, and Founder of NextStage Evolution, wanted to ask just such a question, "Can A Face Help You Sell More?" He researched the stacks of marketing literature and did not find a comprehensive study on the concept. So he decided to develop a research project that tested the hypothesis that appearance influences people.

He worked with Greg PC, another Fellow of the society of New Communications research to take his over 1400 facial shots of different people and use them in his research. And other collaborators included John Scullin and Bruce Klink.

He then had to develop a reliable experiment to ensure there was enough sampling and no bias was involved. He designed a series of websites, and using panels from market research companies as well as well-documented viral email practices, he asked people to review the sites, and asked them initial questions about objects, before moving onto to the images of people. He worked hard to develop some ambiguous questions that were neutral, one because he wanted to pass the muster of the Head of Research for SNCR Dr. Nora Gamin Barnes, and two because Joseph understands the value of good sampled research.

He asked a variety of questions intended to elicit what face had the most  impact, to determine which face people liked the most. He also asked the sort of questions only a social scientist would ask of any decent person, who do you think is a drug addict, and who is the felon? The goal was to determine which face (by culture) evoked the most positive conscious and non-conscious visual- and psycho-cognitive activity as well as which face most quickly placed brand into long-term memory (by culture).

Artists for generations have been aware there are concepts of the perfect face, there are measurements for the ideal face. But what Joseph wanted to know was does appearance in advertising influence purchasing behavior.

Joseph Carrabis will be presenting his findings at the SNCR Research symposium in Palo Alto on November 4-5th, find out if different faces sell more, and the story of how he put this fascinating study together.

Update 10/28/10: Joseph will not be able to make the SNCR event, but he will be publishing his results!