Extant research suggests that material purchases tend to be suboptimal in providing happiness than experiential purchases. The current research offers a unique and easy-to-implement way to enhance consumer welfare from material purchases, namely “humanizing” material purchases—perceiving material purchases as if they are humans. Across five studies, we found that anthropomorphized material purchases provide greater happiness than regular (non-anthropomorphized) material purchases to the point that they can eliminate the gap in happiness between material and experiential purchases documented in prior work. To explain out effect, we focused on the notion that anthropomorphized material purchases provide consumers “sociality”—a source of happiness that was known to be unique to experiential purchases.
Keywords: consumer happiness, anthropomorphism, experiential purchases, material purchases