3.06.2009

Happy from Experience or Material Posession?

Apparently social science has its work cut out for itself in these hard economic times. So much behavior to study, so little time! I've recently become aware of a number of fascinating information resources, and therefore, have read articles covering a variety of behavior, ranging from lonely chatters to advertising/financial/emotional linkages.

Take an article I just finished reading, I found it to be very interesting because it asks the question: does purchasing a material possession or purchasing an experience (experiential or material) provide you the most bang for your emotional buck?

The answer branches into two, depending on whether the person is materialistic or not so materialistic. All around, they find that exchanging financial tenure for an experience (going to a restaurant, a trip, etc.) brings the highest financial return on emotion because it seems to last longer than purchasing a material possession--surprisingly, even if the transaction was not a smooth one. What do you think about that?

It's a compromise between financial investment and emotional satisfaction from an experience. These days, there isn't much experience to be had on the customer service side of things as companies have been cutting down on the personal touch you receive and focusing almost solely on their bottom lines. For example, tried getting some assistance at a department store lately? Lines are so long at the few staffed cashier areas that many customers can feel put out to wait in line just to ask a question. Besides, have you ever thought to yourself, once I finally get someone's attention, will the attendant know the answer?

Themed or what I call "focused" stores like Best Buy, Gap, Ann Taylor, Borders, and Radio Shack stick out in my mind as the few stores where I'm still able to get personal touch and attention...but more importantly, the help I need to quickly get back on my way. I am not a shopping dwadler like the typical female stereotype. I like to have a plan, get in, and get out. I like to walk around the mall, not inside stores.

I find that I've become much pickier in the last two years about what purchases I make and where, and what the experience or product means to me. I find that the Von Maur by my workplace (the ones in the Quad Cities used to be great, but I don't go there anymore) is a great store to purchase Clinique products because they're more customer-oriented. I find that the Clinique counter at my local Macys is more sales oriented, but that their MAC cosmetics counter is the bomb! And if I have a hundred dollars to waste, I know I can always go to Sephora and come away with all sorts of helpful advice and a few new toys to boot.

So what kind of person are you? Do you prefer purchasing an experience or a material thing? Don't you feel that many people will say they like the experience of purchasing and the enjoyment they get out of their purchase? Sometimes people rely on trust and experience when making higher-end purchases because they feel they will last a longer time or provide them emotional benefits from their use. Is it more of the comfort and trust?

These days, I'm very much interested in finding trusted standbys for anything from shampoo and facial cleanser to work wardrobe staples. This involves some bad financial decisions as I test and try things until I find something I'm happy with. But it also improves my pre-purchase research skills. I've developed a personal list of a few tried and tested companies that I trust and go back to again and again. Do you find yourself preferring particular stores or businesses because of prior positive experiences with their service/experience and/or your enjoyment of their product?