Monday, July 23, 2018

Marketing: A Single Dose of Testosterone Increases Men's Preference For Status Goods

The study wasn't focused on selling high-end products but that was my first thought.
Set up a masseuse with the T cream down the street from the Porsche dealer.

"Does sir have plans for the weekend?"

"I'm suddenly thinking I should buy another car"

"Oh yes. Sir should" (mentally calculates commission)

From Nature, July 3:

Nature Communicationsvolume 9, Article number: 2433 (2018)
Single-dose testosterone administration increases men’s preference for status goods


In modern human cultures where social hierarchies are ubiquitous, people typically signal their hierarchical position through consumption of positional goods—goods that convey one’s social position, such as luxury products. Building on animal research and early correlational human studies linking the sex steroid hormone testosterone with hierarchical social interactions, we investigate the influence of testosterone on men’s preferences for positional goods. Using a placebo-controlled experiment (N = 243) to measure individuals’ desire for status brands and products, we find that administering testosterone increases men’s preference for status brands, compared to brands of similar perceived quality but lower perceived status. Furthermore, testosterone increases positive attitudes toward positional goods when they are described as status-enhancing, but not when they are described as power-enhancing or high in quality. Our results provide novel causal evidence for the biological roots of men’s preferences for status, bridging decades of animal behavioral studies with contemporary consumer research.
From schools of fish to modern human communities, social hierarchies are ubiquitous across species1,2. Hierarchies give rise to advantages at the group level, such as facilitating leader–follower coordination and reducing resource conflict3. At the individual level, higher social rank improves mating opportunities, promotes access to resources, reduces stress, and increases social influence4,5,6,7. Therefore, individuals exert considerable effort to enhance their social rank by gaining status (i.e., respect and admiration from others, sometimes also referred to as prestige) and power (i.e., control over valuable resources, sometimes also referred to as dominance)8,9.
How do people achieve higher status? In early human societies, displays of hunting skills and physical aggression were primary in promoting one’s standing in society. In contemporary settings, however, hunting and aggression have been replaced by different strategies, such as displays of culturally valued skills and behaviors (e.g., obtaining academic degrees). Another prevalent route to higher status rests on the display of wealth through positional  consumption10,11. This idea was introduced by Thorstein Veblen’s seminal work, The Theory of the Leisure Class12, which describes how wasteful expenditures on positional goods, which display one’s apparent resources to others, shape the social strata over time8. Such goods are particularly effective signals of status because they separate the “haves” from the “have nots” through economic (e.g., high price) or physical (e.g., restricted access for private club members) barriers. Although Veblen’s insights were overlooked by classical market theories, modern economic theories began to incorporate this view by showing that a balance of prices and goods sustains the market for costly signals13,14. Indeed, goods that wealthier individuals gravitate toward (hereafter, “positional goods”) also tend to be more visible to others than other goods that are more affordable and thus accessible to everyone15,16.

Understanding the drivers of costly signaling through positional consumption is important because this behavior is, by definition, wasteful—in the sense that less expensive goods could have the same functional value as their high-status counterparts (e.g., cars and houses). Status consumption therefore creates inefficiencies. Spending resources to elevate perceived status might, for instance, perpetuate poverty by reducing self-investment in health and education among the poor, who spend disproportionately more on status signals and thus substitute status signaled through consumption for long-run wealth accumulation17,18,19. While recent work has explored the socio-psychological antecedents of status-driven consumption20,21,22, little is known about its biological basis, via genes, hormones, or brain activity....MORE