To Do or To Have, More Or Less: New Insights from Quantitative Reviews of the Experiential Advantage and the Use of Scarcity Tactics in Marketing

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Is it possible to buy happiness? Prior research suggests that shifting discretionary spending from material goods such as clothes, to experiences such as concerts, will bring greater happiness, satisfaction, and overall wellbeing. Other research provides evidence for the benefits of purchasing and consuming material goods rather than experiences. Using a theory driven meta-analysis of 412 effect sizes, paper one shows that there is an hedonic advantage to consuming experiences rather than material goods. Paper two then explores how a common marketing tactic – scarcity – influences consumer attitudes and behaviour. Using commodity theory as the overarching framework to integrate more than fifty years of research into the psychological effects of scarcity, a meta-analysis of 416 effect sizes highlights that not all scarcity tactics are equal. Rather, the size of scarcity’s effect on value depends on a number of moderating factors including the source of the scarcity, product benefits, how the scarcity cue is communicated, and level of involvement with the product. Together these two quantitative reviews synthesize piecemeal literature examining two of the existing debates in contemporary consumer research. That is, what people should spend their money on when seeking to maximise happiness and wellbeing, and how scarcity tactics influence decision-making when consumers make choices from the abundance of options available in the marketplace.
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