New research shows that when consumers share “incidental” traits like a birthday, name or hometown with a salesperson, they're more likely to open their wallets.
If your waitress happens to mention her birthday is the same day as yours, or you discover a clothing store clerk grew up your hometown, chances are you'll order an extra beer or buy that second pair of jeans. …
“Those incidental similarities can actually shape the situation in terms of your desire to buy and associate with the product or company, your attitude toward the product,” says Darren Dahl, a marketing professor at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business. “It overflows onto the purchase experience — even though, rationally, it really shouldn't.”
The reason is that we're hard-wired to seek social connections with other people, he says, and even though these small similarities have nothing to do with the product or situation at hand, they make us more open to persuasion.
Companies already understand this.
Employees at Disney theme parks and Hilton Hotels wear name tags emblazoned with their hometowns, the researchers note, and many fitness centres display detailed biographies of their personal trainers, right down to the high school they attended.