When people want to show how much someone means to them, they do not want to cut costs because it feels wrong, researchers said. Instead, they tend to shun cheaper options and choose higher priced items in order to show that the purchase was made with love.
Peter McGraw, lead author of the US study, said: “People’s buying behaviour changes when they’re making purchases out of love because it feels wrong to engage in cost-saving measures.
“People abandon cost-saving measures when it comes to sentimental buys because they want to avoid having to decide what is the right amount of money to spend on a loving relationship.”
In one part of the study, which involved nearly 245 participants, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder asked attendees at a wedding show about their preference between two engagement rings.
The participants nearly always chose the more expensive ring when deciding between one with a bigger carat and a cheaper ring with a smaller carat.
In another test, participants were asked to choose a container either for the cremation of a loved one or for the storage of a grandfather clock. Those seeking the latter were far more willing to spend time researching cheaper options than those making what was deemed a “sacred” purchase.
Similarly, the study found that people were more likely to try and negotiate a lower price for birthday cupcakes for someone they did not know particularly well but would spend significantly more on the same item for someone who meant a lot to them.
The paper, published by the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, is the first to examine the implications of this phenomenon.
Mr McGraw said the findings highlight how wedding, funeral and other industries can exploit consumers.
“It’s important to be aware of this tendency not to seek cost savings because, over a lifetime, consumers make many purchases that are symbolic of love — whether for weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries and even potlucks,” he said.
“The loss of savings can really add up and put people in compromising financial situations.”
So guys, start buying those expensive gifts. It’s shows that you really love the recipient