By Cassandra @ Setmore
Writer, editor and scheduling product expert at Setmore Appointments.
“You may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting.
It is not logical, but it is often true.” – Spock, son of Sarek
What Spock means is that the experience of anticipation is often better than ownership. And why shouldn’t it? Owning something can be a burden. Your smartphone may be amazing now, but in 12 months it will be obsolete, provided it doesn’t break first.
Increasingly, consumers are wising up to this paradox. 78% of young spenders are investing their money in experiences, from a vacation abroad to concerts and movie tickets, rather than material goods like a big-screen TV.
We think this is great news for Setmore users everywhere.
Live long and prosper. (Public domain image.)
The Psychology of Experience
Since 2003, psychologist Thomas Gilovich has been measuring the emotional impact of buying experiences vs. things, and it’s no surprise that your brain has profoundly different reactions to each. One key takeaway is that waiting for an experience gives a sense of thrill, e.g. it’s difficult to sleep the night before a big vacation. Conversely, waiting for new stuff makes us impatient. You might think, what’s holding up that Amazon delivery?
The Emotions of Experience
- Anticipation leading up to the event
- Enrichment: memories become integral to sense of self
- Connection, sharing and bonding with others
The Emotions of Consumption
- Impatience leading up to the purchase
- Immediate gratification fades over time
- Isolating, used to confer social status
The Materialism Blues
Stuff also suffers from diminishing value, meaning the excitement we feel after a new purchase quickly fades and has little impact on our day-to-day well-being. We also tend to look at what we own and how it differentiates us from our neighbors. A sportier car, a bigger TV—these things are more frequently a source of jealousy or coveting rather than bonding.
Buyers recognize the value of experiences after having them. (Source: WSJ.com)
Even Bad Experiences Make Good Stories
Not only do people rate their happiness higher after having an experience, they also rate the experience as having higher monetary value vs. a comparable material purchase. Experiences continue to pay off after they happen, because we get to share our memories of the experience with others. Being able to tell a story about that concert you attended gives its own form of satisfaction. Even if something goes awry, say there’s an unexpected thunderstorm, it makes the story more interesting.
Do What You Do Best
While consumers increasingly desire experiences, we envision Setmore as a tool to help you deliver those experiences. Whether it’s a haircut, a massage, a business consultation, a tattoo, an emergency repair—and the underlying feelings that these things bring: self-confidence, relaxation, business savvy, artistic identity, and peace of mind.
In the grand scheme of things, these matter to our happiness and well being more than any smartphone ever could.
– The Setmore Team
What makes you happier, experiences or things? Let us know in the comments below.
Categorized in: Updates