Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s been a growing interest in beards. With offices closed, men around the world have been testing their tolerance for facial hair.
For some, the quarantine mustache has been more than a facial experiment but a personal discovery, while others are just testing their limits to see just how far their manliness can grow.
While children may find your beard pretty gross, there’s reason to be optimistic that your quarantine hairs could stay long after your return to the office since companies could adopt leaner policies regarding office wardrobe.
And if you’re in sales, there may be an even better reason to keep your beard — it could be your secret weapon to landing your next big contract.
A new paper found that facial hair on sales and service personnel can make you appear experienced, which leads to trust, purchase likelihood and satisfaction.
The paper, published in the Journal of Business Research, wanted to see how males with beards are perceived in sales or service specific context, where researchers examined five studies that showed just how strong a beard can play when compared to other facial hair styles or people who opt for a more clean-shaven look.
“Sales personnel with a beard are perceived as having more expertise across various industries; furthermore, increased perceptions of expertise predict higher ratings of trustworthiness and, subsequently, increase consumers’ purchase likelihood,” researchers wrote in the paper.
The power of the beard wasn’t exclusive to one area of sales, either. Researchers said that regardless of the industry or context, or the salesperson’s race or ethnicity, potential clients felt more relaxed and trusted what the salesperson had to sell them compared to people that sported a clean-shaven, stubbled, or mustached look. Attractiveness or likability also played no role, according to researchers.
“Our research suggests that those in a sales or service role, where expertise and trust are crucial to converting sales, would be well-served to grow a beard. Your LinkedIn profile and marketing materials may even benefit from the subtle cue conveyed by donning a beard,” said Sarah Mittal, assistant professor of marketing at St. Edward’s University and the paper’s lead researcher, in a press release.
Growing a beard in sales seems like a no brainer if it’s going to give you an advantage over the rest of the competition. Part of why beards do so well in convincing people is due to evolutionary psychology, according to researchers.
“Beards may go in and out of style in terms of their ability to increase physical attractiveness, but from an evolutionary perspective, they consistently serve as a cue to others about one’s masculinity, maturity, resources, competence, leadership and status,” Mittal said. “In sum, the ability to grow a healthy beard inherently signals ‘immuno-competence,’ and this has downstream effects on the way a bearded individual is evaluated in many facets of life.”
Mittal said companies should “think twice” when considering their facial hair policy based on the findings.
“Given these findings, corporate policies that currently ban facial hair may think twice; as other facial hair styles did not have a ‘negative’ effect on trust or expertise, there is only an upside to be gained from allowing individuals to don a well-kept beard,” she said.