A lot of people enjoy a good shopping spree where they just go out either with friends or on their own and impulse buy. By this I mean they go to buy items which they don’t need but they want. During my time at university and reading in my spare time, I began to notice a few patterns occurring. The first and most popular one was that of female shoppers personifying their buys – with comments like: ‘Aww look the little darling they are so cute,’ when mentioning their shoes. I also observed another who referred to a collection of bags a ‘family’.
I fully understand this does not by no means put all shoppers male and female in the same brackets. However, I found it unusual that items were being personified, and that forums exist where these items are shared and discussed. I also noticed a trend in the price of items, the more expensive the item, the more the item was thought of, and personified.
There was also a feeling that the more the item cost the more prestigious the item was. I read about people refusing to buy sale items, as they were not full price, and that it meant newer items were coming out, so they would have the old ones if they did buy it.
I have also observed over the few years of studying psychology, that people will see items as an extension of themselves. For example, having what is perceived as a high-class car, they see that they are of the high class themselves, when they may not be. If a negative remark is made about the car, the person takes as a negative remark against themselves and not against their property. People become defensive and very sensitive when comments are made about their property; whereas others would distinguish between the comment against a car and themselves, some people are less likely to see it this way.
There are also consumers who will purchase items to make themselves feel good, as they think if they are having a bad day, then if they purchase something others have, they are likely to be perceived as being prestigious and important.
They will then feel prestigious and good, they have something they want but they may not necessarily need. This appears to be a growing solution to feeling bad, and not actually dealing with the underlying issues.
Consumers, albeit not all, appear to be getting more attached to inanimate objects and items which they purchase. They also appear to use items to fulfil gaps in their lives where they don’t quite know what should go there, or they are aware and just want expensive items to go instead. I am fully aware that my observation does not apply to all consumers and everyone who goes shopping, but my opinion is that the number of people it does affect is increasing. This may be due to lifestyle, upbringing, or general attitude. It also sparks the question of are people buying what they really like, or what they think they should buy, to feel better or to fit in with a certain crowd.
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Dale Burden is a correspondent for Psychreg. He holds a dual honours degree in Psychology and Neuroscience from Keele University.