Real women respond more favorably to a brand if its adverts mirror their own identities, an ongoing survey which canvassed the opinions of 2,000 women in the UK, US, China, India, Canada, Brazil, Kenya and Jordan revealed.
The study challenges the advertising world's perennial reliance on young, white and extremely thin models. However, advertisers cannot simply enlist a few fuller-figured models, says Ben Barry, who is carrying out the research at Cambridge University's Judge business school: "In general, people have a more favourable reaction to brands that show models who represent people's age, size and background.
"It's not necessarily enough to show one component which is similar - people really wanted to see someone who represents them in all three factors." To reach the conclusion, Barry commissioned advertising agencies to produce a number of realistic print campaigns for products, including consumer and luxury goods, reports the Guardian.co.uk Half were made using what the study termed "traditionally attractive models" - aged 16 to 24, white and around US size zero, the equivalent of a UK size four.
While the remaining pictures included 'ealistically attractive models'of a range of ages, races and shapes. Aside from women aged under 25 and Chinese consumers, most of those surveyed felt positive towards the brands that used the more diverse models, the study found.
The study quotes the reaction of one 50-plus participant to a mocked-up ad for a luxury product using a very youthful model: "It''s a slap in the face to show this young woman because she'd never have the money to shop there whereas I do." Another key finding was that while women preferred to see attainable images of beauty, this did not mean they were against glamour.
"The women wanted models who looked like they were part of the fashion industry but also looked like them," Barry says. "It made them feel that they, too, were included in the industry and were considered beautiful. It''s not just about taking a plain mugshot of a real woman,” the expert added.