Designer items tempt us to spend lavishly

December 15th, 2010 - 2:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 15 (IANS) In what seems to be a Catch-22 situation, consumers are tempted to splurge on luxury items even beyond their means during the holiday season, new research shows.The problem starts with the purchase of new items, particularly luxury branded items or consumer goods of high-end design.

Once home, these items can look out of place when compared to other possessions. The aesthetic mismatch could be negated by returning the item to the store, reports the Journal of Marketing Research.

Instead, consumers tend to buy more such items to surround other luxury items bought earlier and restore aesthetic harmony, say marketing professors Vanessa Patrick and Henrik Hagtvedt from the University of Houston and Boston College respectively, according to a Boston statement.

Emotions play a role in whether or not the buyer will return the item, Patrick and Hagtvedt found in a set of experiments and field studies involving hundreds of men and women.

When a new purchase fails to fit in with existing possessions, consumers regret the purchase and return it to the store.

But when the mismatch involves a design item, consumers surveyed by Hagtvedt and Patrick said they experienced less regret and greater frustration.

“When we buy something with unique design elements and it doesn’t fit, it frustrates us,” says Hagtvedt.

“This is because design has intrinsic value. So rather than returning the item, we actively seek ways to make the item fit, often by making complementary purchases.”

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