Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming
When consumers choose not to buy a luxury item, they often look back and wish that they had. Understanding this emotion — and how to tap into it — could be an invaluable tool for marketers touting, for example, Hawaiian vacations or expensive cars. Through a series of field experiments, the authors of this paper show that when consumers anticipate long-term regrets, they are willing to deviate from stringent budgets and override their usual self-control. The trick for marketers is to appeal to the sense of loss a consumer may feel months or even decades later for failing to enjoy life to its fullest.
When presented with the possibility of future regret, consumers may be willing to break the bank — or their budget — to splurge on big-ticket items.