A 2012 file photo of a thin model.
A 2012 file photo of a thin model.

Women are more than twice as likely to purchase clothing when it is modelled by a woman who is the same size as them, a new survey has shown.

Canadian researcher Dr Ben Barry found that female “purchase intentions” increased by more than 200 percent when a brand’s ad campaign featured a model who was reflective of themselves.

And women were 175 percent more likely to buy clothing worn by a model who reflected their own age.

Barry showed a series of eight mock advertisements that featured one Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress worn by various-sized models, to 2 500 US and Canadian women.

The mock ads were identical in concept and design but showed eight individual models who differed in age, body size and race.

Two of the eight ads were selected by Barry, who is the founder of a modelling agency, at random and presented to each of the surveyed women who ranged in age from 14 to 65 and in dress size from zero to 18.

The women were asked to specify which of the two ads made them want to buy the dress.

The results showed that they liked buying clothes previously seen on familiar women because they could see how a garment fit on the body.

Woman were also found to enjoy feeling as though they were included in a fashion brand’s message.

Familiar models also helped women imagine the clothing on themselves more easily.

Barry said fashion labels attempted to fuel demand in stock by “creating insecurity” in women.

He said in an interview with Cambridge University that discussed the research: “I found that actually trying to hurt women’s self-esteem doesn’t increase purchase intentions.

“What increases purchase intentions is raising their confidence, making them feel beautiful.”

He also said that some of the women he spoke to felt excluded as a result of a brand’s advertising strategy.

He told Elle Canada magazine: “When one mature woman saw an older model, she explained: “(The model) does more than make me feel beautiful, she inspires me to go out and get this dress and celebrate my beauty.”

“While some women in my study felt insecure when they saw idealised models, their insecurity didn’t translate to purchase intentions as the industry hopes; it actually turned them off the product.” – Daily Mail