Feeling sad? Then going out and buying your favourite brand will make you feel better; it’s a dose of retail therapy that works. That’s the finding of a new new study (in press) in the Journal of Consumer Psychology from researchers at the University of Michigan.
The finding is summed up in the title – The benefits of retail therapy: Making purchase decisions reduces residual sadness – and three experiments demonstrated how shopping restores a sense personal control over one’s environment and this reduces sadness.
The psychology is simple – we feel sad when we’re not getting a positive return on investment for our efforts – in love, life or work; we feel we’re no longer in control of the outcomes of our efforts. Sadness is simply your mind telling you to stop and think – perhaps investing in that person, job or activity is not such a good thing? Retail therapy – buying a brand we love can help restore our sense of control over outcomes, putting us back in control of our lives, and this restores a positive emotional state.
Bottom line for brands is that AUTONOMY and CONTROL are key value propositions. Sell people control, you sell them happiness.