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Their pioneering work studied the effect of wearing designer labels in a variety of situations. For instance, when collecting money for charity, being recommended for a job, or simply seeking co-operation from another person. They discovered that wearing designer labels made people more likely to react positively to your request than when wearing normal, non-designer labels.
To prove the point, volunteers were shown a picture of the same man and asked to rate him from 1 to 5 in terms of his wealth and status. The only difference between the pictures was the branding on his polo shirt. Those who were shown a picture of him in a Lacoste or Tommy Hilfiger shirt rated him around 3.5, whilst those who saw the same man in a non-designer shirt rated him just 2.9. The bad news for Slazenger is that they fared even worse than wearing no logo at all.
To see if perception influenced actual behaviour, a female researcher then conducted a 'consumer survey' in a shopping mall. One day she wore a sweater with a designer logo, the next, an identical sweater with no logo. Some 52% of people agreed to take the survey when faced with the Tommy Hilfiger label, compared with only 13% who saw no logo. The day she wore no sweater at all no one batted an eyelid. This was Holland, after all.
I spoil you sometimes.
Anyway, to test the theory further, volunteers were asked to rate a man's suitability for a job simply by watching his interview on video. Again, the presence of a designer logo on his shirt in one of the videos led people to rate him more highly. They even suggested a starting salary 9% greater too. The same outcome was recorded when researchers collected donations for charity. Wearing clothing with recognisable designer logos brought in twice as much money.
So why do labels count so much? According to Nelissen and Meijers it's the same reason that the peacock with the best tail gets the peahens. People react to designer labels as signals of underlying quality. And they assume that only the best can afford them. And that's why people will willingly buy counterfeit goods if they bear the right label. It's the little logo that says everything and is so influential. Mind you, if you get stopped at customs with a suitcase full of them you'll probably need a lawyer too.
The bottom line? Designer logos work. Just make sure you're wearing the right one.
Philip Hesketh is a professional speaker on the psychology of persuasion and influence.