New research by Dr Ben Barry, an Ogilvy Foundation scholar at Cambridge Judge Business School, reveals how fashion brands can better influence the purchase intentions of women by the type of models they use, but warns there are significant cultural differences to observe.

The research indicates that women want models, regardless of age or size, to inspire them with glamour, artistry and creativity, as opposed to stimulating just aspiration. Dr Barry's cross-cultural study of consumer response to size, age and race diversity in fashion advertising involving nearly three thousand women in North America, Canada and China also revealed strong cultural differences. In North America he found the practice of using only models who reflect the Western beauty ideal to be ineffective, whereas in China younger Chinese women actually increased purchase intention when they saw idealised Western models. Multi-regional approaches, explains Dr Barry, are therefore needed when developing successful advertising.

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