Financial Deprivation Prompts Consumers to Seek Scarce Goods

Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2012

16 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2016

See all articles by Eesha Sharma

Eesha Sharma

Dartmouth College; Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business

Adam Alter

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Consumers assess their well-being subjectively, largely by comparing the present state of their lives to the state of comparable others and to their own state earlier in time. The authors suggest that consumers similarly assess their financial wellbeing, and when these evaluations highlight a deficit in their financial position, they pursue strategies that mitigate the associated sense of financial deprivation. Specifically, consumers counteract the relative deficit in their financial resources by acquiring goods that are consequently unavailable to other consumers in their environment. The results from five studies suggest that the inferiority and unpleasant affect associated with financial deprivation motivates consumers to attend to, choose, and consume scarce goods rather than comparable abundant goods. These effects diminish when scarce goods are limited because other people have already obtained them and when consumers attribute their unpleasant feelings to a source unrelated to financial deprivation.

Suggested Citation

Sharma, Eesha and Alter, Adam, Financial Deprivation Prompts Consumers to Seek Scarce Goods (2012). Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2724911

Eesha Sharma (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College ( email )

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Adam Alter

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )

Henry Kaufman Ctr
44 W 4 St.
New York, NY
United States

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