Salesmen with beards close the deal more often – regardless of their age or attractiveness – because it makes them look trustworthy, researchers find
- People clicked on ads with bearded reps far more than smooth or stubbly ones
- The effect was constant regardless of the model’s race, age or attractiveness
- Subjects of all ages, genders and economic levels preferred bushy salesmen
- Researchers suggest firms start to rethink bans on facial hair
If you want to make your Christmas bonus next year, you might want to put down that razor.
A new study finds consumers are more likely to trust a salesman with a beard than a clean-shaven mustachioed, or stubbly worker.
Facial hair on male sales workers increased perceptions of expertise and trustworthiness, researchers found, which increased the likelihood of a sale and overall satisfaction with the customer experience.
The effect was reported across numerous industries and was not dependent on the race, ethnicity or age of the sales rep or the customer.
The seller’s attractiveness and even his likability was also ruled out by the scientists.
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A new study indicates customers find salesmen with beads have more expertise and are more trustworthy. That increased the likelihood of a sale and overall customer satisfaction
Their study, reported in the Journal of Business Research, examined the effect of a full well-groomed beard on the perception of expertise, trustworthiness, likelihood of sales and service satisfaction.
In one analysis, researchers used Facebook Ad Manager to share ads with a clean-shaven and bearded sales representative.
The bearded version yielded almost four times as many clicks as the industry average for industrial services, 2.7 percent to 0.7 percent.
The click-through rate was twice as high as the norm for technology ads, which is typically 1 percent.
Researchers were able to discount perceived differences in age, likability and attractiveness and found the ‘beard effect’ to be potent regardless of the subject’s age, gender or socioeconomic status. Pictured: Benjamin Taylor, 2020 finalist in the Wahl Most Talented Beard in America Contest
‘The beard truly seems to send a consistent message about expertise in one’s field—a key driver in sales success,’ said co-author David H. Silvera, a business professor at University of Texas at San Antonio.
Using various controls, researchers were able to discount perceived differences in age, likability and attractiveness.
They also found the result consistent regardless of the subject’s age, gender, income and ethnicity.
‘Our research suggests that those in a sales or service role, where expertise and trust are crucial to converting sales, would be well-served to grow a beard,’ said lead author Sarah Mittal, a marketing professor at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.
ARE BEARDS DIRTY?
Experts warn beards are ‘bacterial sponges’ riddled with thousands of microbes, and a perfect way to pass on germs.
Having facial hair can also lead to frequent skin infections.
Beards harbor more germs because facial hair is courser than other hair and traps dirt and germs more easily.
‘Beard hair; it’s courser,’ said Carol Walker of the Birmingham Trichology Center. ‘It has the shape of a bayonet, a round, convex bottom and then comes up the side to a point.’
The bends and kinks in a facial follicle are perfect for trapping dirt, Walker added.
‘The cuticles on the hair – which are like layers of tiles on a roof – trap the germs and grease. Hair around nostrils and mouth is well-placed to harbor bacteria. ‘
Mittal theorized a LinkedIn profile might even get a boost with a bushy profile picture.
‘Beards may go in and out of style in terms of their ability to increase physical attractiveness, but from an evolutionary perspective, they consistently serve as a cue to others about one’s masculinity, maturity, resources, competence, leadership and status,’ she said.
To our prehistoric minds, a healthy beard conveys good ‘immuno-competence,’ the ability of the body to produce an immune response to a virus or bacteria.
‘This has downstream effects on the way a bearded individual is evaluated in many facets of life,’ according to Mittal.
Earlier polls have indicated hiring managers find bearded candidates less trustworthy and more aggressive, but the researchers suggest companies rethink bans on facial hair, or at least alter them to allow for a well-kept beard.
Facial hair is the most evident manifestation of human sexual dimorphism — physical differences between males and females — but its evolutionary purpose has long remained an enigma.
Some experts claim its purpose is to enhance sexual attractiveness but a 2019 study claimed the main benefit of a beard is to soften the impact of a punch.
Scientists at the University of Utah found fur on models of the human jaw absorbed the force of an impact 37 percent greater compared to plucked models.
Keeping your face rug may carry some risk, though, at least as long as pandemic precautions are necessary.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, different beard and mustache styles can prevent face masks and respirators from sealing against the face.
Being clean shaven or having a soul patch or handlebar mustache will allow a face mask to fit properly.
A CDC infographic with 36 facial hairstyles shows which ones fit snugly under a mask or respirator and which ones interfere the masks’ effectiveness
But full beards, mutton chops and even stubble are not recommended because they would likely interfere with a respirator.
In fact, the agency says research has found facial hair under the sealing surface of a mask causes anywhere from 20 to 1000 times more leakage than a smooth surface.
A CDC infographic from 2017 lists 36 different facial-hair styles ranging from clean shaven to a Fu Manchu that hangs below the chin.
The CDC added that facial hair doesn’t act as a filter against viruses on its own because it is not dense enough—individual hairs are too large to capture tiny particles.
There’s also evidence beards actually trap lots of germs—more, in fact, than dogs do in their fur.
In a 2019 study out of Switzerland, every sampled beard was crawling with bacteria, and nearly half had bugs that were hazardous to human health.
By contrast, the canines tested by the Hirslanden Clinic proved to have lower levels of microbes.
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