Influence of a sales person's appearance and personality on the purchase decision - an empirical study of Nairobi's middle socio-economic class consumers
Owiti, Mary Adhiambo
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In retail stores sales people occupy a central position. Therefore a store image and ability to build loyalty can heavily depend on the characteristics and appearance of the sales person. In view of the interest appearance has received, it was surprising that in marketing literature there were relatively few studies examining the role of appearance in consumer behavior. Moreover most studies done on appearance seem to have been conducted in the developed countries. The goal of this paper was therefore, to explore the impact of salesperson appearance in a sales context. Specifically, it aimed at investigating whether different styles of a salesperson appearance influence the customer's evaluation of the salesperson and its impact on purchase decisions of Kenyan consumers. Appearance being a stimulus and a response can call forth responses such as admiration, approval, rejection or ridicule towards a sales person. A conceptual model was developed to provide a basis for examining this influence. Based on this model, the study was categorized into three parts: (a) Influence of a sales persons' appearance, (b) influence of a sales persons' personality, and (c) consumers' perception of the sales persons' personality based on appearance. It was a descriptive type of research study, based on consumers of ages 13 to above 40 years old. The middle socio economic class of consumers within Nairobi formed the target population for study. Estates conforming to this group were sampled from the city planning and housing and a multistage random sampling method used to get the sample unit for study. Questionnaires with four parts were developed as instrument of measurements and administered to 200 respondents. A total of 173 respondents, 91 males and 82 females, were used to analyze this research. The findings deduced that the appearance styles of the salesperson had an influence on desirable characteristics of the salesperson such as trustworthiness, reliability, and expertise as well as an impact on the purchase decision. Several marketing applications were discussed and recommendations given.