Holiday Spending-Emotions and Shopping

This holiday season companies are pulling out all the stops to find out what makes consumers buy goods and why shoppers shop.

Aided by science, a research group sets out to understand the body’s response to buying using  bio-metric bracelet technology that was developed by MIT’s Media Lab.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a market research agency fitted 50 shoppers from Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta with biometric bracelets to track their body’s response to shopping.

Why do companies want to know the body’s response to shopping?  Well, to be able to track the emotions attached to shopping in an effort to make products more marketable.

Basically they want to know how emotional states affect shopping in stores versus online.

The sensors in the bracelets monitor “electrodermal activity” or micro changes in sweat levels to gauge a person’s emotional response to the event.

The study, conducted by Interpublic Group of Cos., Shopper Sciences Unit, wants to clarify what sparks a reaction in shoppers and what doesn’t.

The study will benefit major marketers such as Hasbro and Coca-Cola.   The participants will be divided into two groups those shopping in stores and those online.  The online shoppers will also have facial recognition cameras attached to their computers for further information about their shopping experience.

“You are looking to tap that deep unconscious reason that people buy” says Donna Sturgess, president of New York-based Buyology Inc.

Many experts disagree with such studies.  They purport that these physiological changes are too complex to tie to a shopper’s behavior.

A few other studies on emotions and gift giving that we have blogged on in the past can be found here.

The old-fashioned survey, which relies on people’s honesty, is a thing of the past.  Technology seems to be the leading force in marketing consumerism.

What do you think about this new type of research?

One response to “Holiday Spending-Emotions and Shopping”

  1. Keith D. says:

    I think it’s fine so long as the information gleaned is used only ethically. I will be absolutely stunned if it is though, the lure of money and ever higher profits at the expense of consumers’ sanity and long-term mental health is way too high if you ask me. For that reason, I don’t like research like this.

    I think simple human-to-human empathy would be a far more useful and humane means to the same end. This seems too much like “engineering” the consumer you want– it’s manipulative and underhanded. The science in and of itself however is neither positive nor negative– it’s just information.

    But that’s just my own opinion. 🙂

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