In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Danone Portugal launched a new yogurt called Juntos, which means “together” in Portuguese. For every pack of yoghurt purchased by a person, Danone Portugal donates yoghurt to a family in need.
Danone has done the research. More and more people say they want to buy from brands that do good and give them a sense of purpose. Yogurt that helps those in need is sure to be appealing. But Juntos was a loser. Despite investing millions in a state-of-the-art marketing campaign, Danone pulled Juntos from the market just a few months after its launch. Now, the same product is marketed as a savory yogurt. what happened?
In Juntos’ case, emphasizing meaningful choices can backfire. In my research, I’ve found that when people prioritize meaning, they tend to buy less expensive things. This discovery surprised me.i shared intuition People spend more on meaningful choices.But in a series of experiments involving more than 2,800 people in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, my colleagues Lawrence Williams At the University of Colorado Boulder, I have consistently found that this is not the case. When people are looking for meaning, Focus on the price tag Not how the product, experience, or service they buy is itself an important source. As a result, people may reduce their own interests.
For example, in several experiments we showed people pairings of experiences (e.g., two cooking classes), services (e.g., a cup of coffee of their choice), or products (e.g., two cameras). We asked them to choose one option from each pair they would buy. We also gave some people a tip. For example, we encourage some people to “take meaning from your choices,” reminding them to focus on the “purposeful, fulfilling, and valuable” aspects of those choices. Others were told to “enjoy themselves” and focus on “pleasure and pleasure.” We found that participants who prioritized meaning preferred cheaper products, services, or experiences compared to those who prioritized pleasure or had no specific goals.
We then designed an experiment to give people greater freedom to choose their purchases—just in case our findings reflected responses to the options we offered.Specifically, people receive a budget of £75 (about $100 at the time) on Amazon. The platform’s wide range of products allows most people to find something meaningful to them. To make the study as authentic as possible, participants knew they would receive their chosen purchases, plus any money they didn’t spend.For example, if they choose £30 pieces of product they will receive with it £45. Once again, people are asking to make meaningful choices and choose products that are less expensive than those shoppers who don’t have a specific goal.
So why are meaning-seekers cheap? We asked participants to explain their decisions to find out. We’ve learned that meaning-oriented people don’t think about how the products, services, or experiences they might buy bring meaning to their lives.Instead, they concentrate on what else They can use their money. For example, people consider donating the money to charity or setting it aside for their children’s education funds. In other words, spending money might not seem like a meaningful activity, so they focus on the money they can save by buying cheaper options.
My research on savings focuses on strategies that favor consumer well-being. I fully support people who make wise and strategic financial choices. But cheap products create many other problems. Cheaper options generally don’t last as long as higher-end options. As a result, we shop more often, which ends up being worse for our wallets. In addition, this consumption pattern has a greater impact on the environment.Thanks in part to fast fashion, people buy 60% more clothes Today compared to 15 years ago.Emissions from the fashion industry alone more global carbon emissions That’s more than international flights and sea freight combined. at the same time, Mass production of “fast furniture”” is under scrutiny, in part because fill landfill. Anyone who has bought an electronics or appliance in the last ten years knows Low Durability and Quick Disposal Is the usual tradeoff with cheap stuff.
Also, by buying cheaper products, meaning-oriented people may miss out on spending as a way to consume. tool for making meaning.To unpack this idea, think of the MasterCard Priceless campaign. In these ads, MasterCard showcases a sequence of purchases, all leading up to a final “priceless” moment. Yes, it’s a gimmick, but it captures something real. Mastercard isn’t trying to convince you that buying something is a meaningful endeavor. Instead, they’re communicating how your purchase helps build meaningful moments.
Cultural and social attitudes may help explain why some people are reluctant to associate meaning with consumption. For example, in the countries we studied, people were inundated with advertisements for certain items or services promising infinitely more than they actually could: face creams to keep you young, and luxury displays The car of life. As a result, people may develop a reactive skepticism that makes them resist the possibility that spending money can help gain a sense of meaning. To quote Oscar Wilde, a cynic is someone who “knows the price of everything and knows nothing”.
Fortunately, there are ways to overcome our attraction to cheap options.What we found reminded people to pay attention current Buying, rather than other things they could buy, helps reorient meaning seekers to the benefits of what they spend.
For example, when we asked people whether they wanted to buy a basic photo book or a premium handcrafted photo book, those who prioritized meaning again chose the less expensive version. Yet when we also asked meaning-seekers to consider the pros and cons of each option, they preferred a quality, hand-crafted album that preserved their memory in a beautiful, long-lasting way. Likewise, telling people that high-end products are generally more durable encourages meaning-seekers to choose premium products over cheap ones. The prompt reminds them that over time, more expensive products, services, and experiences provide more benefits than cheaper ones.
So before you dive into today’s Black Friday deals and holiday shopping, try not to just focus on what you’re spending or saving — think carefully about what you’re buying, too.
Are you a scientist specializing in neuroscience, cognitive science or psychology?Have you read the most recent peer-reviewed paper you want to write About spiritual issues?Please send suggestions to scientific americanMind Matters editor Daisy Yuhas at firstname.lastname@example.org.