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Self-checkout preferred for blush-inducing purchases, B.C. study affirms

UBC Sauder research sheds light on consumer choices in embarrassing purchase situations

The traditional marketing belief of friendly customer service may not hold true when it comes to purchasing blush-inducing items, a B.C.-based study suggests.

From condoms to menstrual pads, a study from the UBC Sauder School of Business has found that self-checkout is far more preferred.

JoAndrea Hoegg, one of the authors of the study, highlighted that people prefer interactions with mechanistic individuals who are not overtly friendly.

The study also involved surveying people on the street regarding their use of embarrassing and non-embarrassing products. Surveyors displayed varying levels of personality, with some using eye contact, friendly facial expressions, and vocal tones, while others appeared robotic, avoiding eye contact and exhibiting a stiff expression and tone.

According to Hoegg, people generally feel uncomfortable if a person is being overly friendly and attempting to establish a connection when it comes to privacy.

Hoegg suggested pharmacy workers and retail staff should be advised to avoid engaging in small talk when customers purchase embarrassing items.

“When people are buying embarrassing things they don’t seek out conversation. They don’t want that social interaction,” Hoegg said. “They want to get in and get out—and they want someone who isn’t judging them or reacting to them.”

Hoegg also emphasized the importance of recognizing the nature of the purchase and refraining from establishing connections with customers who show signs of discomfort. The priority should be to expedite the transaction and swiftly assist the customer.