HONG KONG--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Whenever we’re feeling down, many of us like to indulge in a little retail therapy. With the way this year has been going, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some impulsive spending as shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday loom - it simply feels good to treat yourself.
While it’s easy to understand how feeling down can inspire us to open our wallets, a new study co-authored by Dr. Rocky Chen from Hong Kong Baptist University School of Business shows that how we process emotions like sadness - specifically the act of thinking of it like a person (anthropomorphizing), much in the same way that Disney vividly personifies Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust in the blockbuster Inside Out - affects us as consumers.
The idea of anthropomorphizing emotions dovetails with how marketers appeal to us with more and more humanized products and services. With their crafted tone of voice and image, brands are constantly marketed with emotion and personality in mind. Marketers would love to unlock when it’s best to sell to us - is it when we’re happy, sad or something in between?
Here is how anthropomorphic thinking has downstream consequences on how we consume:
- When you anthropomorphize sadness, you experience it less intensely - Thinking of sadness as a person helps you feel more detached from it - this may make anthropomorphizing a viable strategy for alleviating sadness.
- Reducing the intensity of sadness anthropomorphically before shopping can help you increase self-control - Anthropomorphically processing sadness before shopping means you have a better chance of choosing a more practical purchase over something excessive. You may find yourself saying, “Forget the cheesecake, I’ll have a salad” as the study showed that those who thought anthropomorphically about their bad feelings were more likely to choose healthier foods over more indulgent treats.
- Anthropomorphic thinking not only impacts sadness, it can dilute happiness - We can also feel more detached from happiness when it’s anthropomorphized as an independent character. Consumers may want to consider anthropomorphizing happiness if they are prone to getting swept up in a moment. Happiness can also overwhelm and lead to rash decisions, so some may want to take a step back and calm down. Marketers can also consider how the emotions associated with their products and customer journey may be anthropomorphized.
As you browse great deals that are sure to pop up this holiday shopping season, perhaps consider your emotional state anthropomorphically before you click “Order Now” and checkout. Doing so may help you become a more mindful shopper who buys what you really need in the long-term instead of something you temporarily feel drawn to during a down moment.