Shopping Begets Shopping

Put down the credit card, you unstoppable spending machine. Groundbreaking research shows that shopping leads to more shopping; not, as some predicted, happiness. Once you start buying, you build up what researchers call “shopping momentum,” and then you can’t stop.

Shopping momentum occurs when an initial purchase provides a psychological impulse whose momentum drives the purchase of a second, unrelated product… Momentum occurs because the initial purchase moves one from a deliberative to an implemental mindset, thus driving subsequent purchases.

So how do you get in the zone? Shopping has two distinct phases. First, you wisely deliberate a product’s value. Once you decide to buy, you reach the second phase, where it becomes easier to make additional, more expensive purchases, without returning again to the deliberative phase.

Planning can derail mindless spending. Keep your money in separate places to create a pause between decision and purchase. Like with grocery shopping, make a list before hitting the mall to avoid extraneous purchases. If you want to browse, ask salespeople to hold items and come back the next day to re-evaluate your selections with a thrifty friend.

Buyer Beware: Shopping Can Lead to More … Well … Shopping [Stanford Graduate School of Business]
The Shopping Momentum Effect (PDF) [Journal of Marketing Research]
(Photo: enmanuel)