A study by a New Zealand researcher has shown Christians are less likely to purchase a product if it is advertised in a materialistic or "showy" way.

However, the study by Ekant Veer from the University of Canterbury and Avi Shankar from the University of Bath in Britain showed Christians would buy the same product if it was advertised as being "high quality".

As part of the study more than 400 people from Britain were surveyed about advertising for a luxury watch. Half of the survey group identified themselves as being religious and believed materialism was wrong.

"We found that expensive luxury watches that were advertised as being showy or an item of envy were frowned upon by religious consumers," Dr Veer said.

While non-religious consumers had no preference, religious consumers were 25 per cent more likely to purchase the watch if they saw the advertisement which did not portray it as a materialistic item.

"It's a really interesting case of being torn between the consumer driven world that encourages material wealth and one's religious beliefs," he said.

The results helped explain how many Christians can accumulate and store materialistic items despite the Biblical teachings against it.

Dr Shankar said the research could explain the behaviour of many different groups.

"For example, it can help us understand how some mothers are able to justify spending more than they can realistically afford on baby equipment, such as prams, because they are convinced that it is a high quality item," he said.

The research could benefit advertisers seeking to target these groups.