Positive Psychology

Your Brand’s Secret Weapon: Retail Therapy Really Does Make People Happy

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.

Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour, wellbeing and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

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