Race, Tattoos in Advertising Affect What Consumers Buy

When deciding whether to make an online purchase, skin color matters to some consumers, new research finds.

A study recently published in the Economic Journal of the Royal Economic Society discovered that online shoppers are less likely to purchase a product if a black person or someone with a tattoo is selling it.

As part of the study, researchers conducted a yearlong experiment selling iPods in about 1,200 online classified ads placed in more than 300 locales throughout the United States, ranging from small towns to major cities. They tested for racial bias among buyers by featuring photographs of the Apple iPod — all of which were silver, 8GB “current models” of the iPod nano digital media player, described as new in an unopened box, and for sale because the seller did not need it — held by a man’s hand that was black, white or white with a wrist tattoo.

The experiment found that black sellers did worse than white sellers on a variety of metrics. Specifically, black sellers received 13% fewer responses, 18% fewer offers, and offers that were 11% to 12% lower. The results were similar in magnitude to those associated with a white seller’s display of a tattoo.

Researchers also found that buyers corresponding with a black seller also behave in ways suggesting they trust the seller less. They were 17% less likely to include their names, 44% less likely to agree to a proposed delivery by mail and 56% more likely to express concern about making a long-distance payment.

“We were really struck to find as much racial discrimination as we did,” said University of Virginia professor Jennifer Doleac, a co-author of the study.

While the researchers weren’t made aware of the potential buyer’s race, Doleac said they did know the racial makeups of the local area where they placed the ad, which varied across the country. She said on average, they found that black sellers did better in areas where a larger share of the local population was black, which suggests that buyers might have a preference for own-race sellers.

Researchers also discovered that black sellers do worst in markets with high property-crime rates and more racially segregated housing, suggesting that at least part of the explanation is “statistical discrimination” — that is, where race is used as a proxy for unobservable negative characteristics, such as the potential danger involved in the transaction, or the possibility that the iPod may be stolen — rather than simply “taste-based” discrimination.

“Buyers might not be trying to avoid buying from black sellers, per se, but are trying to avoid something else that they think is correlated with race: traveling to a dangerous neighborhood, buying stolen goods, etc,” Doleac told BusinessNewsDaily. “This suggests that providing more information (e.g. central meeting places, purchase guarantees) could reduce racial disparities in outcomes.”

The study was co-authored by Luke C.D. Stein, an assistant professor of finance at Arizona State University.


Erykah Badu is the New Face of Givenchy

“People can be so avant-garde, so advanced, but actually not, because people are still making differences between skin color.” – Givenchy’s Riccardo Risci

Riccardo Tisci is known, among other talents, for having one of the keenest eyes in casting. So when he puts an unexpected face in his ad campaigns for Givenchy, the world takes notice. Expect tremors on this one. Presenting the new star of the label’s Mert & Marcus-shot campaigns: neo-soul singer Erykah Badu.

“Erykah, she’s an icon—come on!” Tisci said by phone from Paris. “What I want to do with my advertising campaign is spread the love. Already now it’s been three seasons that I’ve been using people that express something—they are great artists, or beautiful women, or stylish women, or models that I really believe in. It’s kind of a family portfolio.”

Tisci had known Badu slightly but had never worked with her. Still, he said, he’d had her image in the back of his mind when he was designing the Spring 2014 collection, a mash-up of African and Japanese influences. “She’s one of the most stylish women I’ve met in my life,” he said. “She’s got such a good sense of proportion, of colors.”

What may attract as much attention as the unexpected Badu cameo is the fact that all of the campaign’s female models are women of color (the models Maria Borges, newcomer Riley, and Asia Chow). It follows a season with a noticeable uptick in the use of models of color on the runway, following scathing condemnations of homogeneity in fashion from Bethann Hardison and Iman, sounding off from certain casting directors, and coverage of the issue in The New York Times.

“There was a lot of talk this season in fashion,” Tisci said. “Me, I was one of the persons who ended up not being touched by this. I discovered Joan Smalls, I discovered Maria [Borges]. I discovered a lot of black girls, and I’ve been always supporting them. For me, I grew up in a family and I grew up in a culture, an education, that we all are the same.” (He was already working on the collection, and had Badu in mind, when the first articles came out.)

It’s true that Tisci has been active in promoting women of color on his runway and in his campaigns. (Besides Smalls and Borges, he has championed Grace Mahary, Dalianah Arekion, and Daniela Braga, among others.) Does he think the world will catch up to his lead? “I hope so,” he said. “It’s 2013. Everybody’s being so cool about Instagram, about Facebook, any media—everybody’s being so open. At the end of the day, why are not so many black girls or Latin girls in shows? When you have an American president who is black! When I see this happening, it’s quite sad, I think. People can be so avant-garde, so advanced, but actually not, because people are still making differences between skin color.”


Soda vs. Pop vs. Coke

But of all the important topics on which Americans disagree, nothing sparks more debate than a seemingly simple question: Is a carbonated beverage called soda, pop or coke?

If you sit down a group of people from different parts of the United States, you’re bound to come across a few cultural differences. But of all the important topics on which Americans disagree, nothing sparks more debate than a seemingly simple question: Is a carbonated beverage called soda, pop or coke?

The Atlantic created its own version of the famous 2003 Harvard Dialect Survey, in which former Harvard professor Bert Vaux polled thousands of Americans about how they pronounce certain words.

The Atlantic recreated the project by calling people across the country and asking them a few of Vaux’s questions. Then they layered the answers with North Carolina State University graduate student Joshua Katz’s heat maps .

Hear the various ways Americans pronounce the word “pecan” and the country’s divisive stances on what to call a foot-long sandwich.

[via Mashable]

America Fashion Powerhouse The GAP Shows Solidarity and Understanding To Sikhs and Muslims

Gap earns some serious points for its quick, classy response after Arsalan Iftikhar, senior editor at The Islamic Monthly and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com, alerted the retailer that vandals had defaced one of its NYC subway posters featuring Indian Sikh-American actor and fashion designer Waris Ahluwahlia. Hooligans changed the campaign’s “Make love” tagline to “Make bombs,” and added the slogan, “Please stop driving taxis.”

“I wanted the world to see how millions of brown people are viewed in American today,” Iftikhar writes in the Daily Beast. “So I proceeded to post this photograph to my 40,000+ Twitter and Facebook followers and asked them to share this photograph with their friends to try and create some social media buzz and overall awareness. After hundreds of re-tweets and Facebook shares by people of all colors and backgrounds around the country, there was so much social media buzz in less than one day that Gap contacted me directly after hearing about its vandalized advertisement and wanted to know the exact location.”



Then the company took its response a step further. “In addition to Gap’s rocket-fast attempt to find out more details about the situation,” writes Iftikhar, “I have to say that the best part about the company’s response to this social media campaign is that it currently has the Sikh model as their current Twitter background photo.”

That show of solidarity and understanding is generating gobs of positive press and good vibes. In a world so often divided, it’s a great way to bridge the gap.