Entries in consumer behavior (5)


Pumpkin Spice Latte for the Soul

Fall is here and that means one thing…Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte is Back! Have you ever wondered why this annual tradition seems to be such a big deal to the general populace? Sure, the pumpkin spice latte (PSL) is delicious, but how excited should one get about a beverage? It may be that some of the PSL-mania stems from how the drink makes us feel rather than how it tastes.

Relationship science could argue that the pumpkin spice lattes speak to consumers on a number of unconscious levels.

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Too Macho for the Middle? Why Guys Don’t Compromise

Imagine you and your romantic partner are purchasing a new car together. You both prioritize safety and fuel efficiency, and you’ve identified 3 cars that you mutually like. The first car is extremely fuel-efficient. The second has superior safety ratings. And the third car is in the middle – it scores reasonably on both factors. Which are you most likely to buy – the car that dominates in one desirable category or the middle-of-the-road option?

A recent study1 indicates that your choice of car (and other things) likely depends on whether one of the decision makers in the couple is female.  

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Lingerie Shopping with Men

Changes in sexual politics have left men mystified about how to behave when shopping for lingerie.1

One of the saddest sights in nature is that of the human male, forlornly trailing his girlfriend around a shopping mall. The shuffling gait, the slumped shoulders, and that glazed look in the eyes that seems to say “When can I go home and play Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare?”

But how do men behave when they step into a lingerie store?

Scientists from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax wondered if the sexual imagery -- the lingerie, the advertisements depicting gorgeous models in a state of undress -- stimulate and interest male shoppers. Or, if being surrounded by intimate apparel causes men to feel anxious and embarrassed, and to behave like cornered wild beasts.

Eager to find out, Kimberly Moule and Maryanne Fisher went on safari to their local mall. They sat at a table in the food court, near the entrance to a lingerie store. From there they had a wide open view of the store’s interior. They kept their eyes peeled for male-female couples. When they spotted a pair, they made a note of all the man’s behaviors -- whether he interacted with the merchandise or talked to his partner, how he moved about the store, and where he directed his gaze. Later, the psychologists repeated their observations at a regular clothing store.

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Diamonds Aren’t Forever: Expensive Rings and Weddings May Lead to Relationship Problems

My husband and I got hitched this past June, which I can honestly say was one of the happiest and most transcendent experiences of my life. However, we both agree that whereas the wedding was awesome, the wedding planning process was decidedly not awesome. Navigating the wedding industry can be quite frustrating, in part because of the relentless pressure to spend fantastic amounts of money on anything and everything wedding-related. As a relationships researcher, I was particularly interested in, and baffled by, the rhetoric that many vendors use in order to sell wedding services and products.

Many of the sales pitches boil down to the idea that couples in love should want expensive weddings. Vendors will argue that if you truly love your partner, you should be willing to go to any lengths (at least monetarily) to properly celebrate that love on your “special day”. For example, maybe you want to show your love for your partner by getting a fancy gilded guestbook for your guests to sign, or personally monogrammed hand towels for the reception bathroom. Sometimes the rhetoric even goes so far as to suggest that an expensive wedding guarantees you true love. With a perfectly straight face, some vendors will tell you that your wedding day will “set the tone” for your marriage, and you should be willing to do anything it takes to start your marriage off “on the right foot”. For example, perhaps you should set the right tone by hiring a 20-piece orchestra for your ceremony, or limos to transport all your guests to the reception.

Examples of this sort of advertising can be traced back to the 1940s, when De Beers diamond company launched their infamous “Diamonds are forever” campaign. Indeed, many of the social norms around marriage proposals—such as the arbitrary benchmark of two months’ salary that men should spend on an engagement ring—come from De Beers’ successful advertising efforts. Like the wedding industry more broadly, the diamond industry relies on the premise that spending a great deal of money shows love for your partner and predicts relationship success. This idea is widespread in our culture, likely because it is a marketer’s dream: who wouldn’t pay any price to ensure marital bliss? What’s less clear is how accurate these notions are. To what extent do high levels of spending actually predict marital bliss?

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When a Flash of Skin Makes a Man Flash His Cash

I’m probably not the only person who’s wondered why muscle-car expos and auto-enthusiast magazines often feature attractive female models, or “car babes,” posing suggestively alongside (or on top of!) luxurious vehicles. Doesn’t the eye candy distract prospective buyers from the cars?

Maybe not. Turns out feminine curves and cold chrome aren’t such an unlikely combination after all. It all boils down to the need to impress a potential mate.

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