Does Sex Still Sell? How Perception of Sexualized Advertising Influences Buying Behaviors




Johnson, Annika

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Past research has shown mixed effects of sexualized advertising on purchasing behaviors, with some studies showing that sexualized advertising increases sales and others showing that intentions to buy products are not influenced by sexualized versus non-sexualized advertising. Previous research has also shown a potential gender difference in reception of sexualized advertising. Despite Generation Z becoming a large portion of the economy, there is little research on their buying behaviors, and no research regarding sexualized advertising. To address this gap, this thesis investigated how sexualized advertising influenced the buying behavior of Generation Z. This study employed a series of surveys to investigate how Generation Z interacts with products included in sexualized advertising compared to products that did not have sexualized advertising. We found that Generation Z was less likely to choose products from sexualized advertisements compared to non-sexualized advertisements. This study did not find a significant difference between men and women for buying behaviors. Exploratory analyses found that sexualized advertisements made participants uncomfortable, that people in relationships were less likely to choose sexualized advertisements, and that women, compared to men, found both sexualized and non-sexualized advertisements to be more representative and sexualized advertisements to be more empowering. The practical implications of this study show that the standard practice of using sexualized advertising to market products may not be the best route when marketing products to Generation Z.



generation Z, buying behaviors, advertising, sexuality, gender


Johnson, A. (2023). Does sex still sell? How perception of sexualized advertising influences buying behaviors (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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