People Want Experiences — Luckily, That’s What We’re Selling

We’ve written about it before, and the topic keeps popping up: Spending money on experiences makes us happier than buying stuff. Entrepreneur reporter John Rampton shares seven reasons why this is so, based on a 20-year study by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University.

Below, we highlight a few key reasons why we prefer to spend our money on experiences over stuff:

“Experiences define your purpose and passions.

Your daily activities should be guided and influenced by your purpose and your passions, not material possessions.

Think of it this way. Let’s say that your favorite musician of all-time is Bruce Springsteen. Even though you have all of his albums, and some other items like shirts or posters, do all of those possessions top seeing The Boss in concert? Probably not. In fact, if someone offered you a front-row ticket in exchange for all of your Bruce memorabilia, you would probably take them up on that offer in a heartbeat.

Possessions don’t contribute to social relationships.

‘We consume experiences directly with other people,’ says Gilovich. ‘And after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another.’

Do you bond more with other people when discussing material possessions or experiences? Think of Bruce again. When you run into a fellow fan, you have a certain bond and connection. You can talk about his music, the concerts you’ve attended and how much his music has positively impacted your life. That seems like a more in-depth and interesting conversation that discussing your cars, gadgets, wardrobe or even your Boss souvenirs, right?

Social relationship expert John Hall, author of  the book Top of Mind, recently told me, ‘Relationships are like ketchup — only you can figure out if you need to have it on your burger or not.’ We can all relate to wanting or not wanting this.

Experiences introduce you to a whole new world.

Unlike stuff, experiences introduce you to new perspectives, life lessons and the importance of gratitude. Take traveling, for example. If you live in New York City and travel to West Virginia, you may realize the pros and cons of living in the Big Apple. Even though there’s culture, public transportation and plenty to do, that weekend trip south made you appreciate nature, the quiet and the beauty of clear, starry nights.

You may realize and come to understand cultural differences. Even if you don’t agree with these points-of-view, at least you’ve walked away learning how to be more thoughtful, compassionate, humble, or grateful.”

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