How Service Employee's Appearance make a Difference for the Healthiness of Food Choice2015-09-09
Our choices as consumers are governed by various factors. At the restaurant one of them is the appearance of the person serving us - if the person has a look that is perceived as healthy, we choose the healthy options from the menu. These are the findings from a study made by researchers Poja Shams and Anders Gustafsson.
The health trend is growing and we are becoming increasingly aware of what kind of food we should consume to maintain good health. If the waitress at the restaurant has a “healthy” appearance, we choose a healthy salad for lunch even if we really are hungry for a less healthy option. These are the findings from a study conducted by researchers Poja Shams and Anders Gustafsson, CTF, Service Research Center at Karlstad University, Sweden togheter with Tabea Huneke, EBS Business School, and Sabine Benoit, University of Roehampton.
The researchers wanted to examine the effect of service employees’ appearance on consumers’ food choice using an experimental study, involving a video manipulation and eye-tracking technique. A menu being proffered by a waitress whose degree of apparent healthiness varies (healthy, overweight, unhealthy lifestyle). The menu contains both healthy and unhealthy meal alternatives. The analysis of participants’ eye movements demonstrated that exposure to the overweight employee did not stimulate greater (i.e., earlier or longer) attention to unhealthy meal alternatives, whereas exposure to the employee who displayed an unhealthy lifestyle did. The choice of unhealthy meal options increased by 60 percent when the service was from the waitress who appeared as “unhealthy”.
- The important aspect of the result is the identification with the person who serves the food; if you can identify with the waitress the choice is influenced towards what is socially acceptable. The trend in our society is right now to have a healthy lifestyle and the participants in our study also wanted to make the choice that is most socially acceptable, that is, they want to be healthy, says Ph D Poja Shams.
-The conclusion of the study is that the staff’s appearance has a direct impact on customers. This in itself is interesting. We have for a long time known that stores are trying to influence customers by where they place goods, what music they play, how it smells, and what the staff looks like. And how many of us have said “This will not affect me!” Our research more and more shows the opposite. The underlying mechanism is automated response, we will be affected and act without actually thinking about it, says Professor Anders Gustafsson.