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Here is a good probe by James Hamblin in The Atlantic into the understanding that people are happier buying experiences rather than things. In short:

  • Happiness comes from anticipation of the experience purchase, not just after it. 
  • Waiting for a possession is more likely fraught with impatience than anticipation. 
  • Experiences tend to make us happier because we are less likely to measure the value of experiences by comparing them to experiences of others. 
  • Experiential purchases tie more into identity, connection and social behavior.
  • We stop appreciating what is constantly in front of us, as opposed to the transient.  
  • We don’t want to hear about other people’s possessions; experiences, yes. 
  • Moods are better in a queue to buy an experience, versus material goods. 
  • We tend to be more generous to others just after thinking about an experiential purchase, as opposed to a material purchase – also more likely to pursue social activities. 
  • It’s suggested that the difference between imagining experiential versus material purchases lies in all the possibilities around the former. 

What does it all tie back to? The unexpected and the imperfect, the evocative and the enchanting, the connecting and the inspiring – this is the magic of experience and you can’t put a price on it. If you could, it would be rising. The more embedded and automated that quality, service, distribution and performance become in the consumer society, the more the human factor matters.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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