The psychology of shopping has become an urgently discussed issue by the present time. Even a new science, called neuromarketing, studying various consumers’ responses to marketing stimuli has appeared. Though its researches benefit mostly people, whose business is connected with marketing, it may also provide some important and interesting information to the overage customers, letting them to understand some irrational reactions which make them want to buy things, which they do not really need. And people not only make ridiculous purchases they can hardly explain afterwards; sometimes even starting shopping turns out to be unnecessary. “After a moment’s thought most of us can remember times when we entered shops and did not buy or even intend to buy”.(Shaw, 2010)
For example, one of the reasons of irrational consumption lies in the fact that people are inclined to overvalue things which they have. Therefore, they are likely to overvalue the product they bought and advertise it to their friends, making them believe that it is something really good and necessary.
Another common technique used by the shop owners is providing a free gift or a bonus along with some product. This makes a really dramatic effect, having customers standing in long queues and buying things they do not need in order to receive something for free. But, as it turns out, free may also be valuable.
One more well-known fact is that the higher the price for a product is, the more reliable, good and effective it is thought to be. Therefore, customers are more likely to spend more money, buying expensive goods, even if they know nothing about their real quality and effect.
Another aspect related to the issue of the psychological effects of shopping on consumers is the influence which the shopping makes on women. For a woman shopping is often seen as a method of fulfilling her emotional needs and a sort of a stress revival. One of the most common aspirations of women is finding goods and products at bargain prices. Thus they gain the feeling of achievement while understanding that they saved money, which now can be spent on the needs of their loved ones – their children, husband, other family members or their friends. It satisfies an instinctive need which most women possess – the need of pleasing their family and friends.
Moreover, some of the really ridiculous purchases are driven by such a phenomena as the turning of desires into needs. In some occasions, the purchases people make are not vitally necessary for them, such as a brand new dress for each new occasion. Some women think that buying a new dress for the new event is a necessity, which can not be omitted, and they seriously talk about it as about a purchase which they have to make, no matter what it cost. Though a lot of women can not remember what they wore for the previous occasion – nor people who were attending the same party can.
The word “luxury” also occupies people’s minds more and more. However, there is no stated definition of what luxury actually is. Or rather it means different things for different people, still leaving them to wish for buying things they define as luxury. “What I consider a luxury is very different from what you consider a luxury or your neighbour considers luxury, and who can argue that each of our unique subjective definitions of luxury is wrong?”(Danziger, 2006)
All that reasons may even lead to the phenomena known as the shopping addiction. Advertising, telling that purchasing more people will be becoming happier and politicians, encouraging spending for the sake of the country’s economy, enlarges wish for shopping dramatically. “The consumer culture is a new form of manipulation of the ordinary person by the exchange system. When the family goes to the shopping mall together at the weekend, the mall provides a form of leisure, of structuring time and a site for constructing family relations of gender and generation.”(Miller, Jackson, Thrift, & Rowlands, 1998)
While affected by the shopping addiction, a person sees the shopping as the only way of coping with everyday stress. This addiction is characterized by becoming preoccupied with spending vast amount of money for buying goods and devoting a great amount of time to the shopping activity. However, the shopper is often left with a feeling of a great disappointment
with himself/herself. That comes from the fact that while people use shopping as an escape from negative feelings, such as boredom, depression, anxiety or anger, this escape turns out to be short-lived, and the feeling of the disappointment because of the money spent for nothing may also occur.
All in all, shopping has become the essential part of modern life, and that can not be omitted. However, people sometimes people need a bit of rationality while doing it. That would help not only to save money, but also to escape the feeling of dissatisfaction, raised by the subconscious realization of the fact that one has bought a really unnecessary but expensive thing.
Danziger P. (2006). Shopping: Why we love it and how retailers can create the ultimate customer experience. New York: Kaplan Publishing.
Miller, D., Jackson P., Thrift N., & Rowlands M. (1998). Shopping, place and identity. New York: Routledge.
Shaw, J. (2010). Shopping in Social and Cultural Perspectives. Cambridge: Polity Press.