Why We Shop: Emotional Rewards and Retail Strategies

By Jim Pooler | Go to book overview

modern shopper's emotional needs, and attempts to gain a picture of what that shopper really wants when he buys something. It's about understanding what drives and motivates the shopper of the twenty-first century.

The retailer must make an adjustment or become a dinosaur. He or she has to give up those antiquated notions of what shopping and shoppers are all about. No longer does it suffice to see a shopper as a rational creature making rational decisions. No longer is it enough to think that the shopper acts in a way that makes sense from an economic or logical point of view.

Shopping today is complicated. The retailer that hopes a consumer will buy a product simply because it offers good value at a good price is fooling himself. The consumer may be shopping in order to show off his personal success, to achieve a sense of self-respect, or to fulfill deep, inner psychological needs. That audio system, or those designer jeans, may carry an outrageous price tag, but they may also fulfill some profound emotional compulsion that the shopper has. This is shopping today.


EMOTIONAL SHOPPING

Picture it. A middle-aged husband who owns a perfectly good set of golf clubs lusts after a new, state-of-the-art set of titanium clubs worth $2,000. Given the state of their joint checking account, he knows there is no way that he and his wife can afford such a frivolous purchase. Nevertheless, knowing of his desire for the clubs, his wife buys them for him as a gift anyway, out of that same bank account. Is the husband upset with the purchase? Of course not. Not only does he love his new clubs, but also his wife is delighted to have been able to give them to him.

What just happened here? A couple made a purchase they could not afford, for an item they didn't need, yet they were both extremely pleased with the result. Is this a typical outcome for a typical family spending decision? Yes it is. In fact, such an apparently illogical purchasing decision represents the way most people shop most of the time. It is the contention of this book that, just like those golf clubs, about two-thirds of everything that people buy is really unnecessary.

The golf clubs are just one simple example of the unusual manner in which people make purchases. Other such examples are common. Consider the husband who trades in the family van, long before such a trade is warranted, in order to buy a brand-new, stylish, sport-utility vehicle. Consider, similarly, a teenager that relegates to the closet perfectly good

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