Does sex still sell in today’s business world?
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
“Sex sells” — that’s a common expression in the marketing and advertising field. Last month, when a Canadian hotel chain tried to run a sex-appeal campaign, however, the trick helped the hotel draw more negative attention from the online community than expected.
Sex does not appeal to all travelers
Clique Hotels & Resorts is a Canadian luxury hotel chain with properties in Calgary and Canmore, Alberta. According to CityNews, a media firm in Canada, the hotel’s website featured some “suggestive” and “sexist” photos, bringing in some backlash from the online community, with people tweeting:
“And super suggestive. That one in the dress is killing me …”
“These are mega creepy. Who would approve these?”
“Right? Hahah I couldn’t even bring myself to book that hotel because of it lol”
“They might wanna fire whoever is in charge of marketing [laughing – emoticon]”
To some extent, those featured photos match the hotel chain’s slogan: “Sleep with the Best!” In this case, sex does indeed gets people’s attention, but it is uncertain such attention will help the hotel chain bring in more sales, especially in this case where couples and families seem to be their target customers (based on my observations on the hotel chain’s website).
Why sex might not sell in today’s business world
For decades, “sex appeal” could be a very effective tactic in promoting sales, but sex might no longer be able to drive sales in today’s business world, primarily due to the shifting consumer base. For instance, Gen Zers, those who are 23 or younger, as well as millennials have become the two largest consumer forces, but they are not as interested in sex as the older generations.
According to a report in The Economist, 23% of Americans aged 18-to-29 claimed that they had no sex in the past 12 months, doubling the amount a decade ago. Another report in The Guardianalso reported a similar phenomenon in such developed countries as the U.S., U.K., and Germany — “dampening sex drives among the young, postponed marriages, fewer babies being born.” In Japan, for example, one in four young adults in their 20s and 30s had never had sex before.
Besides having sex, today’s teenagers are less likely to drive, work for pay, go on dates, or even go out without their parents, as reported in a study based on a sample of the U.S. adolescents from 1976 to 2016. Gen Zers are driven by other purposes, as compared to the older generations.
More evidence showing sex does not appeal much to today’s consumers
As suggested in another study reported by New York Post, even though sex-appeal ads are more likely to be recalled than the ones without such content, people usually fail to remember the brands associated with the sex-appeal ads. Even when people are able to recall the product, they are more likely to have a negative attitude towards the product or the brand.
Moreover, the study also found no differences among consumers’ purchasing intention of the brands that showcased in sex-appeal ads or not. While the study also confirmed that men, in general, liked sexual ads more than women, it did not appear men would be more inclined to purchase what the sex-appeal ads were selling.
Regardless if sex might eventually help Clique Hotels & Resorts bring in more sales or not, its “sexy” campaign has successfully caught some attention about their brand and products, including me as I am using it here as an example that sex might not sell in today’s business world.
Would I choose to stay in one of their hotels or resorts for a romantic getaway? Possibly, but definitely not because of its campaign’s sex appeal. Meanwhile, I will hesitate to recommend this place to families with kids because it seems too “sexy” to kids.
What do you think about the hotel chain’s “Sleep with the Best” promotion? Does sex still sell? If so, on what occasions?
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