You think A-list celebs and global sports stars flaunting the latest tech gadgets makes you want to buy them? Well, think again. According to a new study, it may be your office janitor or your neighborhood's bin man who convinces you what to buy.
Marketing experts from the U.S. and Israel claim that seeing a desirable item in the hands of someone 'inferior' to us compels us to run out and buy it – because we're afraid of being looked down upon. They label this phenomenon as the 'low status user effect'.
"It may be the janitor who makes you want to run out and purchase the latest gadget," researchers Edith Shalev, of the Israel Institute of Technology, and Vicki G Morwitz, of New York University, stated in their paper, published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
"Consumers from a lower socioeconomic status are not usually considered ideal influencers for higher status customers.
"After all, people accept influence from those they identify with—those who are similar to them or people who they aspire to be like," they added.
"This scenario might lead the observer to think: if a lower socioeconomic status person owns the latest tech gadget and I don't, what does this mean about my relative technological innovativeness?"
In one study, research participants were more interested in purchasing a swanky T-shirt when a grocery packer wore it, as opposed to a college student.
Researchers say their findings come with one caveat: they proved true only when participants believed tech gizmos to be an important part of their lives.
"People naturally and automatically make comparisons. We try to find out things about ourselves by comparing to the other. Downward comparisons proved to be surprisingly powerful," lead co-author of study Vicki Morwitz told
----- Stephen Bell, 32, managing director of event company