'Experiential Purchases' Make Consumers Happy

      March 18, 2009 07:48

      So-called "experiential purchases" such as restaurant meals or theater tickets are flourishing even as global consumption is shrinking amid the financial crisis. Psychologists say that is because such purchases give people a feeling of happiness.

      According to a study by Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, released at the U.S. Society for Personality and Social Psychology meeting in February, experiential purchases, such as a restaurant meals or theater tickets result in increased well-being because they satisfy "higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality -- a feeling of being alive." Is that why an increasing number of middle-aged Korean viewers go to the movies?

      According to Indiestory, the distributor of the recent hit film "Old Partner," the middle-aged accounted for as much as 24 percent of its more than 2 million viewers. That is close to the 30-something percent of viewers in their 20s, who traditionally make up the bulk of the audience. Hit movie "Scandal Makers," seen by some 8 million viewers, also drew a lot of middle-aged viewers. Donating small sums to charity is another form of experiential purchase. In the year-end community chest drive last year, there was a remarkable increase in the number of people who donated W100,000 or less (US$1=W1,488).

      Also, there is an average increase of 20 percent every year in the number of companies whose staff donate W1,000 or less out of their salaries to help less well-off neighbors. Last year, a team from the University of British Columbia, Canada, released in the journal Science a finding that people report significantly greater happiness if they spend money on others rather than themselves.

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