This clip from the movie Joy uses the just plain folks similarity altercast principle to sell her self-invented and created mop (Werkmeister, 1948) She shows that she is similar to other housewives (just plain folk), by acting as a bypassing customer, similar to everyone else in the parking lot, and tries out the mop. She explains whilst using the mop how ‘you can ring it without getting your hands dirty’, a common problem experienced by housewives, “gets all those crammies where my kids spill their juice,” another common problem experienced by housewives.
A study by Jiang, Hoegg, Dahl and Chattopadhyay (2009), explored the effects of incidental similarity between a salesperson and a potential customer in a marketing behavioural lab where a cover story was given to 61 university students to create the social context. Technically as Joy’s ‘walking by’ her similarities are in a way incidental to the “random housewife with a mop” (her friend) and are an example of every other housewife observing “incidental similarity”.
In this study, the experiment looked at incidental similarity with the sales person as either having a shared birthday or not ( a less influential characteristic then the “ingroup” housewife similarity seen in the video), social connectedness and purchase intention.
Results showed that those customers that shared a birthday with the sales person (incidental similarity) showed higher social connectedness and higher purchase intention compared to those who did not.
In conclusion the study shows that having incidental similar characters to a sales person will make you as a consumer more likely to purchase a product hence supporting the similarity altercate principle and would indeed suggest that as seen in the film Joy, a housewife is more likely to be able to sell you a mop than a professional salesperson.
Werkmeister, W.H. (1948). An Introduction to Critical Thinking. Lincoln, NB: Johnsen Publishing
Jiang, L., Hoegg, J., Dahl, D. W., & Chattopadhyay, A. (2010). The persuasive role of incidental similarity on attitudes and purchase intentions in a sales context. The Journal of Consumer Research, 36, 778–791.