Before I go in, let me set the stage for you. This is a long, informative post, so grab your coffee, turn down the TV and read on. Imagine this:
Plus size bloggers and magazines have LONG been calling out designer and brands on this. Contrary to traditional fashion marketing belief, Ben Barry has found that women will buy fashion when models convey a realistic, attainable image and make them feelconfident.Say What?
Meet Ben Barry of the Canadian Ben Barry Agency. In pursuance of his PhD, Ben Barry recognized that while the impact of models on body image has been studied, very little research has been conducted upon how models—depending on their size, age and race—influence purchasing decisions.Elle Canada.And Guess what He FOUND OUT?
Thanks to Ben Barry all of those above IFS are finally provento be TRUE! But for us plus size women, we already KNEW this… but having new research and findings? YES! With 2000 women, sizes 2-18, age and ethnically diverse, this two phase study looked at both purchase intentions and the reasons behind those. I mean if you care about your bottom line and running shop, let me tell you what Ben Barry’s findings reveal:Phase 1:
Looking at models who had similar and dissimilar sizes, ages and races to themselves, each woman was randomly shown two of eight possible ads where the models might have reflected some of their traits, all of their traits or none of their traits.
“I found that Canadian and American women increased purchase intentions for fashion products advertised by models who reflected their own demographics: age, size and—for non-Caucasians—race.” ~Ben Barry
For those over a size6, women increased their purchase intentions by a dramatic 300 percent* when they saw curvier models. Conversely, when women saw models who didn’t reflect their size, they decreased their purchase intentions by 60 percent, and women over size 6 dropped their purchase intentions by 76 percent.Phase 2:
Why did women increase purchase intentions when models looked like them? The women shared that they could better picture themselves in the dress advertised by similar models. GO FIGURE.
According to Ben Barry, “They could imagine how the dress would flatter their shape, how the aesthetic would suit their age and how the colors would complement their complexion.” And for those idealized models? “… Their insecurity didn’t translate to purchase intentions as the industry hopes; it actually turned them off the product.”His Conclusion?
Basically, models should reflect the same size and age ranges of the brands target market. Ben Barry smartly deduces, It’s clearly in a brand’s financial interest to create samples in a few sizes to reflect the diversity of their consumers.
The underlying message is that fashion needs to sell aspiration, but it is NOT a standardized model’s age, size or race that is aspirational; it is the clothes, styling and creative direction of the shoot.Why this matters? And how this affects the Plus Size Industry…
Far too many department stores, designers, and retailers have made decisions, assumptions, and choices based upon BAD and outdated information. For example, if a division in your department store, plus sizes, is not selling through, chances are the plus size consumer is not being spoken OR catered to.
To the online retailers that insist on using a size 6, 8, or 10 and label her as plus size AND the modeling agencies that force feed these 6, 8, 10, and 12 models down the retailers throats, please know that you are only hurting yourself and your business.
This means that YOU the businesses that cater to or are interested in selling to US, the plus size woman- please know we need MORE from you! We have voices now and speak up and out on what we like.Understand this:
I am stepping off my soapbox now, but I encourage everyone to head over to Ben Barry’s article and read, share, tweet, and comment on this piece! The fact that ELLE Canada backed him up in his findings already speaks volumes! You can also give Ben a shoutout on Twitter too! @BenBarryAgency is his Twitter!
But I want to know your thoughts. Are you as excited about this as I am? How do these new findings and research make you feel?
ALL IMAGINES OF MODELS FROM BEN BARRY'S BOARD