The fashion industry might want to take notice - using average-size models in marketing campaigns could be just as or more beneficial than using size zero models.
Researchers considered the impact of average and zero-sized models in both established and fictitious fashion campaigns. In three studies, Xuemei Bian of Kent Business School, Kent University, U.K., and Kai-Yu Wang from Brock University, Canada, asked women ages 18 to 25 which model they preferred, according to a press release from the University of Kent. The researchers also considered the participants' self-esteem when analyzing their preferences.
Please note, that according to a press release from Brock University, "average-sized" is a size six.
"We expected that when they looked at print ads for an established brand, like Gucci, we would find that our participants would prefer the skinny models over the average-sized model," Wang said, according to the press release. "In fact, we found that average-sized models could be used interchangeably with the size zero models with minimal impact on the evaluation of the model and the product."
The size of the model didn't seem to matter when it came to established brands with a history of using size zero models, but the less-known (made up) companies fared better among study participants when they used the typical size six models. Researchers noted that lack of knowledge about the brand played a major role in preferences toward a size six model.
The preference for size six models was more pronounced in women with low self-esteem, according to the press release.
"The issue of fashion industry use of skinny models is a very controversial and we have even seen France's parliament considering a ban," Bian said, according to Psy Post. "Our research shows that the fashion industry has nothing to fear from using average-sized models in it marketing campaigns, and could even find that it sells more of its products by doing so."
"Are size-zero female models always more effective than average-sized ones? Depends on brand and self-esteem!" (Dr, University of Kent and Professor, Brock University, Canada) will be published by the European Journal of Marketing.
Bian also co-authored a similar study in 2013 titled, "Will normal‐sized female models in advertisements be viewed as positively as small‐sized models?," in the European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 47.