When the economy goes bad, women spend more on cosmetics and retail. Why? According to MSNBC, a new report observes that women are buying more in hopes of securing a man who was able to hold on to his job during the recession.
“We may not consciously think we’re buying them to make ourselves more desirable to men,” Sarah E. Hill, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Texas Christian University said to MSNBC. “But our lizard brains go after these things even when we think we’re too smart to be lured in by manipulative advertising claims like, ‘these jeans will help get you a man.’”
Hill first noticed what she calls the lipstick-effect when she observed high Mary Kay sales in 2010 when many companies were suffering. She then decided to study whether or not the trend carried across companies and different time periods. She and her colleagues looked at 20 years of data to examine the relationship between unemployment rates and sales of beauty products and designer clothes.
“I was expecting to find sales of these products to at best be flat when unemployment was high,” she said. “That would have been interesting enough. But when we found that people were actually spending more during times of high unemployment, I thought that was fascinating.”
Hill decided to take the study a step further. She gave both men and women study participants a chose between reading story about a down economy or architecture. Participants were then asked to indicate their level of desire to buy six products: half included clothing and beauty products, the other half included a stapler, a wireless computer mouse and headphones. Turns out, women who chose to read the story on the down economy generally went for the beauty products.
By contrast, men didn’t seem to be effected by the lipstick-effect. Hill reasons that this is because when men look for a partner, they generally aren’t as concerned with a woman’s income level.
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