Can happiness be found by purchasing goods or services? Marketers and advertisers certainly would like us to think so no doubt. It is quite debatable in terms of psychology as whether people will generally feel happier through purchases, but there has been increasingly suggested that consumers are purchasing products and services in hope of becoming a happier person. One thing for definite though is that people’s choice criteria has moved on from practical purposes to other choice criteria.
One thing that most purchases have in common is that people no longer consume purely for practical purposes (Campbell, 2004). Instead it appears that consumers are purchasing products and services in the hope of expressing who they are (Dittmar & Beatty, 1998), to gain social status (McCracken, 19990), and in hope of becoming happy (Csikszentimihalyi, 2000; Wood & Bettman, 2007). As mentioned in my previous blogs for example “Week 4 – Cadbury’s chocolate, Way to win consumers’ heart”, Cadbury has endorse excitement, entertainment and joyfulness with their products in the advert, so that when consumers want happiness, they will consume Cadbury’s chocolate. Another example “Week 7 – Fair Trade… Are you sure Nestle?”, I mentioned about how what kind of coffee a person purchase may influence their perceived image as coffee is one of those goods that you share / give away to people around you, and there are increasing number of “give-away” products which encourage people to consume for the sake of the perceived image / status.
According to Scherhorn, Reisch & Raab 1990, they suggested that a common problem for compulsive buyers is that they get into debt, and according to Drentea & Lavrakas 2000, they suggested that these debts are likely to be inflamed further by the easy access to credit. Other difficulties include getting involved in embezzlement and losing social relationships (Dittmar, 2004). Clearly that materialistic individual use products and service in the hope to have something back from their missing lives and meanwhile the compulsive buyers (approx. half a million people in the UK) often get into credit problems. Basically people buy more for happiness short term, but in reality and long term wise, they will run out of credits and got into serious trouble.
Like everything in the world, there are disadvantages and also advantages. Purchasing experience such as holidays can make people happy. This is because they are interpreted in a positive constructive way, social relationships can be fostered and are less prone to negative comparisons. In conclusion, almost like everything in the world where everything is pretty much can be demonstrate in an inverted U graph, where both extreme sides of the graph. In order to achieve optimal point of happiness, moderate consumptions are required. Not consuming like crazy, and not just sit at home and consume nothing, moderate consumption is the way forward!