University of Tennessee

Why Livestreamers Should Sell Their Products Without a Smile

August 24, 2021

The conventional wisdom in sales is to deliver service with a smile. However, according to Michel Ballings and Neeraj Bharadwaj of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, and their colleague Prasad Naik from the University of California at Davis, neutral expressions lead to better returns – at least, when applied to live video sales.

Livestream sales pitches through channels such as Amazon Live and QVC are an increasingly common way to sell products. Segments usually last somewhere between five and 10 minutes, during which viewers can readily buy items by clicking on a link. The researchers analyzed 99,451 such sales pitches on a livestream retailing platform, matched them with actual sales transactions, and then determined the emotional expression of the salesperson, using digital face detection and emotional classification models.

In research recently published in the Journal of Marketing, they reveal that, unsurprisingly, when salespeople conveyed negative emotions – such as anger and disgust – the volume of sales went down. Perhaps surprisingly, they returned similar results when the sales pitch involved high levels of positive emotional displays, such as happiness or surprise.

To learn more about why positive emotional displays may be deal-breakers, continue reading about the work in the researchers’ own words at The Conversation.