WHILE RESEARCH HAS SUGGESTED that customers get the most
pleasure out of an indulgent purchase if they have a good
reason for buying the item, a new study suggests that’s not
always the case. Its co-authors include Francine Espinoza Petersen of ESMT Berlin
in Germany, Heather Johnson Dretsch of the Poole College of Management at North
Carolina State in Raleigh, and Yuliya Komarova Loureiro of the Gabelli School of
Business at Fordham University in New York City.
An online survey of 175 students showed that consumers with high levels of
self-control were happier when they had a reason for indulging, but those with low
self-control were happier after indulging for no reason. Those with high self-control
tended to be disciplined and value rational behavior; those with low self-control were
more relaxed and easygoing.
These findings, the researchers note, suggest that marketers should communicate
with customers based on their personality types. For instance, ad campaigns that
push a “you deserve it” message might alienate potential customers who don’t need a
reason to buy. If a brand is more likely to draw frivolous, happy-go-lucky customers, it
would do better with a campaign that emphasizes the rewards of spontaneity.
“Who Needs a Reason to Indulge? Happiness Following Reason-Based Indulgent Consumption” was published in the March 2018 issue of the International Journal of
Research in Marketing.