If you’re trying to cut back on your spending, then you might want to rethink buying those seemingly cute purple throw pillows—at least until you’re sure they’re going to fit in perfectly with your living room aesthetic. According to a study in the Journal of Marketing, many people who buy things they realize they don’t really want end up going back to the mall to buy more items to rectify the situation. One wrong purchase is all it really takes to get the ball rolling.
Unfortunately, most of these items tend to be luxury goods or high end consumer products. A designer dress here, a luxury piece there—such purchases, while already expensive themselves, are just the beginning. The study also suggests that the shopping spree that will likely follow those wrong purchases might cost you more than you think.
"When we buy something with unique design elements and it doesn't fit, it frustrates us," wrote Professor Henrik Hagtvedt of Boston College. "This is because design has intrinsic value. So rather than returning the item, we actively seek ways to make the item fit, often by making complementary purchases. This has financial implications that may have been entirely unforeseen when the consumer made the initial purchase."
Despite consumer terms and conditions that allow buyers to return unwanted purchases, survey results reveal that hardly anybody makes the effort to go through the process.
"In talking to people, it turns out that this is a pretty common occurrence," wrote University of Houston Professor Vanessa Patrick. "We buy something we really like—after all what could be so wrong in purchasing a cute purple sweater or a unique little side table for the hallway?"
Little do consumers know that this is exactly how the entire cycle starts. Patrick went on to say that, before long, “we have purchased matching necklaces, shoes and bags, to go with the purple sweater or paintings, new wallpaper and new lighting to accommodate the unique side table."
To avoid falling into this trap, consumers should probably avoid making unplanned purchases right from the start. Going to the grocery store without a shopping list or buying home accessories for your newly renovated house without a concrete plan will only hurt your finances. Keep in mind that what looks lovely in the store does not always translate well when you bring it home.
You can still make the most out of your shopping experience without spending unnecessary money with these tips:
(Screencap from Pretty Woman courtesy of Touchstone Pictures)