Curiosity Matters

An Exploration of Branding, Design and Cultural Trends

Consumption Vs. Experience

The New York Times published an interesting article But Will It Make You Happy? exploring whether or not buying new things actually makes you happy. I just got a quote from moving and storage company (spending 3 months in San Francisco) and I can tell you, having less stuff would definitely make me happier right now. The article looked at various research that basically concludes experiences are more enriching than "stuff." For example, you're better off buying yourself a week long vacation vs. an expensive leather jacket. This confirms what I've known all along; that a night with good company, wine, great food and a nice setting is really all one ever needs to be happy. "One major finding is that spending money for an experience — concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco — produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff."

From a sustainability standpoint, I'm glad this conclusion has been reached. There's got to be a better way to enrich our economy than telling Americans to "buy, buy, buy!" Especially when we're buying cheap goods, made overseas that will eventually end up in a landfill.

"“A $20,000 increase in spending on leisure was roughly equivalent to the happiness boost one gets from marriage,” he said, adding that spending on leisure activities appeared to make people less lonely and increased their interactions with others.""

Great - I'll elope and spend money that was meant for the wedding on an extended honeymoon..

From an advertiser's perspective, I'm not threatened by this article.

"“I think there’s a real opportunity in retail to be able to romance the experience again,” says Ms. Liebmann. “Retailers are going to have to work very hard to create that emotional feeling again. And it can’t just be ‘Here’s another thing to buy.’ It has to have a real sense of experience to it.”

“Nowadays with the economic climate, customers definitely are going for a quality experience,” says Nick DeVita, a home entertainment adviser with the Geek Squad. “If they’re going to spend their money, they want to make sure it’s for the right thing, the right service.”"

Go read the article while I continue to put the rest of my furniture on Craigslist and stuff on eBay.