Happiness For Sale: Do Experiential Or Material Purchases Lead to More Consumer Happiness?

Researchers have suggested that consumers would be happier if they spent their money on experiences as opposed to material possessions. In four experiments, we test this experience recommendation, and show that it may be misleading in its general form. We find that valence of the outcome significantly moderates differences in respondents’ reported retrospective happiness with material versus experiential purchases. This valence by purchase type interaction is especially strong for consumers who are not materialistic. These results have implications for consumers attempting to maximize their happiness, and for marketers and public policymakers who have an interest in consumer welfare.


Julie Irwin, Joseph Goodman, and Leonardo Nicolao (2008) ,"Happiness For Sale: Do Experiential Or Material Purchases Lead to More Consumer Happiness?", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 72-75.


Julie Irwin, University of Texas, Austin
Joseph Goodman, University of Texas, Austin
Leonardo Nicolao, University of Texas, Austin


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35 | 2008

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