‘The Beard Test’ | How Beard Length Affects Click-Through Rate

betabrand beard test header

In Betabrand’s never-ending quest to understand the Internet consumer, we wondered,  what’s the optimal beard style for male models?

Do shoppers prefer gentlemen to be shaven, unshaven, or barbarically-bearded?   Surely the answer would lie in click data.

So we shot a shirt on Jared Graf, our Co-Founder and Design Director — a Pennsylvanian who sports a centimeter of neatly-groomed facial hair.

Then, through the magic of Photoshop, we added and/or subtracted varying quantities of strawberry blonde scruff.

Betabrand Beard Test spectrum

The testing principles were fairly straightforward— present six different beard styles on precisely the same advertisement — with the same targets, same timing, etc. — then compare Click-Through Rate (CTR) data to determine the most alluring facial hair.

The Woodies Raglan Shirt ad, featuring Jared in his natural, un-doctored state:

Betabrand Beard test normal length beard for ad

 The Click-Through Data:

betabrand beard test click through rate

Analysis (Includes some shocking news for Mr. Graf):

Both men and women, on average, were 39% more likely to click an image that had any amount of facial hair vs. an image that showed none.

As for the most heavily clicked, the longest beard we tested (beard #6) was unilaterally the favorite. CTR’s were 79% higher on this beard vs. the average of the others.

betabrand beard test long beard

The test also demonstrated that women have about a 30% lower affinity toward beards than men do, with one exception: the image of completely beardless Jared (beard #3).  Sure, these were male-focused ads, but it is also a safe assumption that men generally feel more positive about beards than women.

As for no-facial hair (beard #1), women were 65% less likely than men to click this beard. It was the second-lowest performing image for women, while it performed just above average for men.

betabrand beard results

Our core insight here is that if your ads feature men, they should be sporting some facial at all times. However, more “conventional” beards should be avoided, while extremely long beards are encouraged.  A handlebar (beard #4) will likely go over well also, while a mustache is pretty much a par for the course.

Finally, Jared needs to change his facial hair. His natural style rated terribly with both men and women. Going into this test, we had no idea it would cause facial fashion panic in our Design Director. He was last seen chugging a bottle of Beamon’s Beard Enhancing Elixir…

Julian's focus is on finding the most innovative ways to attract new customers. He has worked at leading San Francisco advertising & media agencies designing multi-channel communication campaigns for Fortune 500 companies. Around here, we just call him Supreme.

7 Comments

  1. Kelly Stonelake · June 27, 2014

    Very interesting! I’d love to know which beard drove highest conversions?

    • Julian Scharman · June 27, 2014

      Thanks for reading Kelly. Unfortunately in order to report on which images were more effective at driving conversions, we would have to reach a level of statistical significance that would require thousands more in media spend to achieve. I believe (rather firmly) that CTR remains one of the best, early indicators of interest. In the social ads, and this is particularly true on Facebook, because the units are so large, and in-stream, you can garner clicks quickly, and more reliably.

  2. MD · June 27, 2014

    The analysis doesn’t take into account (or the article fails to mention it) where the shoppers are coming from. I’m confident the results would change considerably according to the country. In a muslim country where beard is mandatory results might be very different from results in China where men rarely have facial hair.

  3. Roger · June 27, 2014

    All praise the beard.

  4. James · June 27, 2014

    Based on these results… shouldn’t the next step be to test longer and longer beards, until the CTR starts to fall?

  5. Jeff · June 27, 2014

    Great test! How did beard length affect conversions?

  6. Graham Jones - Internet Psychologist · June 27, 2014

    Are you sure you didn’t mean to publish this on April 1st….?

    Of course, I have no idea if what you have said here is true – the “evidence” which you provide could be made up as part of a PR stunt.

    Plus, the CTR are – like most adverts – so very low, that determining any real difference between them is meaningless. When more than 99% of people did not click, the differences between the remaining one percent are so small as to be likely to be due to pure chance alone, unless those small percentages are from hundreds of thousands of people.

    Furthermore, you haven’t controlled for the possibility that the clicks might not be genuine interest – they may well be based on amazement, shock or some other emotional reaction. The crucial statistic missing here is the purchase rate – what was the percentage of actual purchases from each advert? That is the real required statistic – CTR itself is almost meaningless.

    The data also conflicts with other studies which show that people without facial hair are preferred to men with facial hair, especially lots of it. Stubble is liked more than long beards in some studies – the reverse of your finding.

    Plus, the commenter MD is right, in that you don’t appear to take into account cultural influences on beard preference. This could skew results.

    So, what you have done is interesting – but flawed – unless, of course, it is just a publicity stunt, in which case well done…..!