High-Rish vs. Low-Risk Purchasing Emotions

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Emotional States Associated with
High-Risk and Low-Risk Purchasing Behavior

This paper explores the various psychological aspects of consumption and the emotional states that spur high-risk and low-risk consumption behaviors. The research presented is drawn from a compilation of scholarly articles from journals including the Journal of Marketing Research and the Journal of Consumer Research. This paper cites studies that explore emotion and behavior in a wide array of consumption situations, including the consumption of both hedonic and utilitarian products. Data collected in the cited studies was drawn from questionnaires and experimental environments. Three main psychological components that determine the level of risk of consumption behavior are discussed: the consumer’s forecasted emotions resulting from the decision, the consumer’s self esteem, and aspects of the life goals that the consumer has in place.

Emotional States Associated with
High-Risk and Low-Risk Purchasing Behavior
Much of today’s marketing research focuses on advertising and its effective or ineffective aspects. Research that focuses on the consumer and the motives behind consumers’ purchasing behaviors can be highly relevant; it can help companies better understand their target customers and it can help consumers become more conscious decision makers. Whether a consumer decides to make a high-risk purchasing decision or a low-risk purchasing decision depends on their forecasted emotions resulting from the purchase, their self-esteem, and their ability to pursue and maintain certain types of goals. High-risk spending, also known as “splurging,” can be the result of a negative mood, various components of low-self esteem, and a lack of long-term, attainable goals. Low-risk spending, also known as “saving,” can be the result of a positive mood, various components of high self-esteem, and the presence of important long-term goals. Forecasted Emotions

Whether a consumer makes a high-risk purchasing decision or a low-risk purchasing decision is related to their forecasted emotions regarding the purchase, or the ways they assume they will feel once they have made the purchase. Research has shown that consumers engage in high-risk purchasing behavior when trying to repair a negative emotion, and low-risk purchasing behavior when trying to maintain a positive emotion (Chuang, Kung & Sun, 2008; Pocheptsova, 2010; Pollai, Hoelzl, Hahn & Hahn, 2011; Truong & McColl, 2011). One example of consumers engaging in high-risk behavior to repair a negative emotional state is consumers spending a large portion of their disposable incomes on luxury goods. Consumers often try to imitate the consumption behavior of members of the social class to which they desire to belong (Truong & McColl, 2011). Members of their desired social class appear to be in more positive emotional states, and consumers wish to imitate this positive state in as many ways as they can. Hedonic vs. Utilitarian Products

With regards to consumer research, a product falls into one of two categories: hedonic or utilitarian. Hedonic products are products that are purchased for pleasure; they do not necessarily serve any function. Hedonic products also provide more excitement and experiential consumption while utilitarian products are purchased for their functional value (Pollai et. al., 2011). Pollai et. al (2011) successfully manipulated levels of product hedonism in two studies that examined the role of product type and anticipated emotions on purchase decisions. In discussing their findings, Pollai et. al (2011) concluded that “[w]hen consumers’ attention is drawn to anticipated emotions, these salient anticipated emotions appear to play an important role in consumer decisions regardless of product type” (p. 244). Pollai et. al (2011) also concluded that there was less of a relationship between purchase intention and anticipated emotions when consumers...
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