Consuming Goals

Well well, you have decided to do twenty pushups. Why twenty? Is it a decent goal? How eager are you to do five extra, after that you have reached your goal?

To set goals, strive towards them and finally reach them, is a classic trick to get things done. It can be for exercising, productivity, organizational behaviors. And consumption.

As a matter of fact, we can also consume goals. It is one of the concepts of conceptual consumption. It can be used to both increase and decrease consumption. Let’s look how.

I am sure that you have seen the customer cards that stores, cinemas and coffee shops uses to make you return. Most times, it means that you have to go to the same place a certain number of times, for example 10, before you get something for free, like a cup of coffee or a nice little gift. It is a good example of how corporations can use goals to enhance the consumers experience. In other words, a type of conceptual consumption.

Some researchers wanted to examine the effect of customer cars on the consumers. They co-operated with a car wash that handed out punch tickets with eight squares, all of them empty. Each time a customer washed his or her car in that car wash, the customer got a stamp in an empty square. When all of the squares would become filled with stamps, the ninth car wash would be for free.

Some customers got a similar punch ticket, but with a slight modification. Their punch ticket had ten squares, and two of them were pre-stamped.

In other words, all the customers had to pay for eight washes, before the ninth would be for free.

The interesting thing with the results, is that the customers with the pre-stamped punch tickets, bought more car washes. They were nudged in the right direction, before they even washed their car for the first time. In other words, they were already striving towards the goal. It did not matter that the goal was set by someone else.

The researchers came to the conclusion that the feeling of being on the way towards a goal, increased the customers eagerness to reach it.

Now, you have learned an example of how a goal can create purchases among the customers. In the next post, you will learn how goals also can be used to decrease consumption. Don’t miss it!

Reference: Nunes, Joseph, C. Drèze, Xavier (2006) The endowed progress effect: how artificial advancement increases effort. Journal of Consumer Research. Vol. 32. 504-512

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