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How does shopping work as a therapy?

The Therapeutic Power of Shopping

Shopping is described as the action of buying goods and services from various companies in exchange for money. Although not always enjoyed by all, many have claimed that the process not only encourages positive thoughts, but also eliminates negative ones. This is done by providing a means of distraction, allowing the individual to feel empowered and also allowing oneself to self-indulge. Taking shopping related actions in attempt to boost mood is commonly referred to as retail therapy. The therapeutic nature of the name is ironic as it acknowledges shopping as being a type of cure in a medical sense.

A study conducted by a Penn State researcher showed that 62% of a sample of regular shoppers made purchases to lift their mood over a one-week time frame. This includes various objects including clothes, makeup, sporting equipment and anything that makes a person to feel better about themselves, often due to the perception that they will be greater accepted and admired by their peers.

Although this is true, the lack of behavioural control associated with retail therapy can cause ineffective and worthless purchases to be made (Rick, Pereira & Burson 2013). This process is referred to as impulse buying and is known to be one of the darker sides of buyer behaviour. This process involves making a rapid decision to buy a product without having planned to do so, due to the onset of a sudden urge. Although there may be benefits to partaking in various shopping behaviours to improve mood, addiction and other negative consequences can arise if used to resolve issues long term.

Another study by Böttger and Lee (2017) revealed that shopping therapy only provides momentary peace and relaxation. It is never a good option for the long run as it can drain down the savings unnecessarily and aggravate more stress later. 

Why do people use shopping as a form of therapy?

Shopping and purchasing are linked to three types of therapeutic powers: the ability to improve mood by distraction, by being self-indulgent and by feeling activated (Kang & Johnson, 2010). The three therapeutic powers of shopping are that it removes depression, makes one feel good and provides relief in the busy life. AS people are busy with their professional life, shopping helps to cope up with stress and makes one happy. Shopping is like a therapy that heals anxiety, mental disorder and depression. Research has proven that retail therapy does assist in helping a person to forget the adverse happenings of the external world for a short period of time. In many ways, shopping can provide various benefits to an individual much like the provision of therapies, which aim to clear negative thoughts from the mind and give an individual the opportunity to reflect in a comfortable environment (Atalay & Meloy, 2011).

All humans have basic physiological requirements which can include the need for food, water, shelter and warmth, which are all vital for our survival. However, as per Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, this can be expanded to include safety, esteem and self-actualization needs (Schmitt, Joško -Brakus & Zarantonello, 2015). According to the Consumer Demand Theory, shopping can assist a person in achieving these higher needs, which is a form of self-indulgent behaviour. Buying goods that we ‘want’, as opposed to ‘need’ come with a sense of reward when purchased. These items can be bought for numerous reasons including to make ourselves look more attractive or to enhance our social status. This contributes to making oneself feel better, which is turn is why individuals tend to treat themselves when they are feeling low.

Why do people use shopping as a form of therapy?

Retail therapy also acts as a strategy to that makes the individual feels positive about life as it allows an individual to feel activated whilst doing so. The person is able to browse the aisles as they wish and make personal choices about what they decide to buy, which can reinstate a sense of control. As well as this, shopping can provide a chance for a person to connect with others, whether this is with friends or family, or even the sales assistants and fellow shoppers. Social interaction in all forms is efficient in releasing feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as provide a work-life balance if issues are related to education or employment. As well as this, people are able to get in touch with their creative side whilst at the shops, as enrichment can be provided through visual stimulus in the design and colour of various goods in which they come across.

Studies suggest that consumers do not necessarily need to purchase anything in order to relieve their negative attitudes (Wolf, 2007). Businesses that are responsible for showcasing these goods are more than aware of the fact that a large number of their visitors do not intend to buy anything that they see in front of them. As a result of this, many companies will invest a lot into developing a pleasing visual setup to lure people into their store, which can alter their mentality and cause them to spend money, even if doing so contradicts their previous intentions to do so (Lo and Harvey, 2012). One of the effective marketing strategies incorporated by the retailers is digital marketing. The retailers today use several social media platforms to promote their products and reach out to the targeted and potential customers. Today, most of the customers want convenience. They prefer shopping directly from home at discounted rates. That is why businesses now expanded their business online where they even advertise their products. This has given an opportunity for the customers to look for variety of options directly from home at just one click. This has lured the customers to shop more than before.

Environmental stimuli including ambient factor, promotions, aesthetic factor, layout, excitement factor, and characteristics of sales associates were found to be the biggest attributes in influencing shoppers’ mood and as a result, allowing impulse buys to occur (Lee & Johnson, 2010). This is because these components trigger our sense of desire to remain in the store and further explore its offerings. Although not able to work on everyone, businesses will pay attention to these details to ensure that they are receiving the maximum benefits that can come from the environmental manipulation of their consumers.

Impulse buying, although however a short-term gratification, may have various delayed negative consequences on an individual. This can include feelings of guilt, disappointment, and financial hardship (Rook, 1987), increased reliance on credit card debt, shame and remorse (O’Guinn & Faber, 1989), as well as additional worry (Roberts & Roberts, 2012 as cited in Brici, Hodkinson & Sullivan-Mort, 2013).

The Link Between Consumer Demand Theory and Shopping as Self-Indulgent Behaviour

Regret is a discussed frequently with the idea retail therapy as bad moods are known to lead to greater purchase and consumption of unplanned gifts for oneself. Individuals are unable to realise this whilst shopping as the goal of repairing their mood takes priority over the goal of self-control and impulse regulation (Leith & Baumeister, 1996 as cited in Kang & Johnson, 2010). As such, a person will strategically let go of their impulse control in an attempt to make themselves feel good, even if this means that these effects will cause a greater and more prolonged negative state as a result.

Adolescents are said to be at greater risk than adults of participating in dangerous shopping activities as they are known to take greater risks as they explore themselves and their world to create their own identity (Dahl, 2004), and because their self-regulation mechanisms are still under development (Gestdottir & Lerner, 2008 as cited in Brici, Hodkinson & Sullivan-Mort, 2013). Research shows that teenagers are more likely than adults to attach negative emotions to impulse buying episodes that they have undertaken. This is said to be because older consumers are more aware of their real-life constraints, finances and budgets (Brici, Hodkinson & Sullivan-Mort, 2013). Retail therapy can pose a severe risk to adolescents in particular, as they are only beginning to make independent life choices, which can cause unhealthy behaviours to be carried into later life if not dealt with at a young age.

Due to mental stress and depression, adolescents and teenagers are inclined towards shopping. Marketers are also taking this opportunity and launching new products that are being constantly advertised on social media platforms. However, shopping can never be a therapy for a long-term. It only gives momentary happiness. Regular exercise, proper diet, positive thinking and healthy living can be a therapy for long run. 

We conducted interviews with six candidates between the ages of 19~22 around Melbourne. The interviews transcripts are used for thematic analysis to find themes which is relevant with and defend our research subject. The three themes are founded which are short-term relief [1], distraction [2] and indulgence [3].
The interviewees are consisted of three group members who are involved in this project and each group member’s family or friend.

Name

Gender

Age

Role

Hyejeong Choi

Female

22

Consumer

Veronica (Jiaqi Liang)

Female

19

Consumer

Amelia Woodhouse

Female

19

Consumer

Jonica Rooke

Female

19

Consumer

Amy Smith

Female

19

Consumer

Nicole Pettinella

Female

19

Consumer

We asked a total of 20 questions to the participants and all of them were related to shopping. In the interview, it was asked in different ways that how does shopping gives them a short-term relief or distraction from negativity or how it helps to shift the mood in a better position. It was also asked behind the questions that how the shopping acts as self-indulgent and they feel active and motivated from a stressed life.

Our first theme was short-term relief. The participants were asked how shopping positively affects their mood and how does it provide relief from daily stress. It was also asked for how long the effect lasts on their mind. People said that it gives them freedom for sometime from their daily boring life. They feel joy, delight and satisfaction whenever they go to shopping. Some of them stated that whenever they buy something and it gives them the purchasing satisfaction which helps them to get relief from stress. According to a participant of the interview, shopping is a short-time mood enhancer. One of the participants stated that shopping can fix the bad mood especially the depression and anxiety during the shopping only and it lasts only for a while after shopping so it’s a short term stress reliever. In the interview, most of the participants shared their view that shopping is a stress reliever and it distracts people from bad mood or negativity however, the effect remains little bit after shopping and after sometime they go back to the stressful life again. From the research it was clear that shopping definitely works as a short term therapy in removing the stress among most of the people.

From the thematic analysis another theme came out and that is indulgence. It is one of the important factors to distract the mind from negativity and indulging mind in some enjoyable as well as delightful work. The participants shared their valuable opinions in this regard. One of the participants stated that whenever bombarded with the stress of life shopping distracts the mood and it is an act of self-indulgent into some fresh and positive activity. From the answer it was found that ambience and environmental factor works as stimulant to enhance the mood as well as influence the person for self-indulging process. The result from the analyses showed that even after buying an impulsive product during bad mood does not make people sad and even, it makes them happy when they look at the product and recall the moment when they brought it. One of the participants also disclosed that when she is nervous and unhappy she loves to go for shopping and it helps to gain the self-confident and lifts the mood by acting as a distracter. The research produced the result that people indulge themselves in shopping to lift and refresh their mood while they are in stress or unhappy in their life.

Conclusion

The main goal of our research was to find how shopping acts as a therapy in relieving stress and lifting mood. In order to achieve the goal we conducted interview to find the result of the main question. We believe that our research was sufficient enough to prove that fact that shopping is an instant stress reliever. The findings from the interview provided a solid insight that many people go for shopping when they are stressed and bored of their life. The environment in the shopping area helps to uplift their mood. They get distracted for sometime from their boring and busy life. However, many of the participants shared their view that the distraction of mood only occurs when they are indulged in shopping and it does not last for a long after shopping. Some of the participants also stated that shopping does not act as a stress reliever for them. However, most of the participants in the interview, agreed shopping is a compensator and act as therapy in their stressful life. The opinions from the participants helped to achieve the goal of finding the result of the main research question easily.

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My Assignment Help. (2021). Understanding Retail Therapy: Essay On Shopping As A Therapy. (70 Characters). Retrieved from https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/mktg2101-consumer-behaviour/how-does-shopping-work-as-a-therapy.html.

"Understanding Retail Therapy: Essay On Shopping As A Therapy. (70 Characters)." My Assignment Help, 2021, https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/mktg2101-consumer-behaviour/how-does-shopping-work-as-a-therapy.html.

My Assignment Help (2021) Understanding Retail Therapy: Essay On Shopping As A Therapy. (70 Characters) [Online]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/mktg2101-consumer-behaviour/how-does-shopping-work-as-a-therapy.html
[Accessed 21 July 2024].

My Assignment Help. 'Understanding Retail Therapy: Essay On Shopping As A Therapy. (70 Characters)' (My Assignment Help, 2021) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/mktg2101-consumer-behaviour/how-does-shopping-work-as-a-therapy.html> accessed 21 July 2024.

My Assignment Help. Understanding Retail Therapy: Essay On Shopping As A Therapy. (70 Characters) [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2021 [cited 21 July 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/mktg2101-consumer-behaviour/how-does-shopping-work-as-a-therapy.html.

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