I recently signed a lease for an apartment close to work and the beach. These days, it’s hard to score a decent place in LA that’s not crumbling or overpriced. I’m glad I finally found a good spot!
Consequently, I’m deep into furniture shopping. Or window shopping, might be a better way to put it. I’m looking through gems on Craigslist, “good” to “like new” condition of high-quality furniture like CB2 and West Elm. I’m also looking at the furniture section of Macy’s and Home Goods. Even Gilt.com, to add more options to the mix.
In between working during daytime, furniture shopping during afternoon breaks and dreaming about stylish, comfortable furniture at night, I also keep myself busy with readings from books and magazines. (I can’t wait to build my library again with all the books I want to read and own, but that’s for another post).
While reading HBR, I came across this article that talks about how consumers tend to buy more when there’s a mystery or uncertainty involved in their selection set. This phenomenon is called the “sushi conveyor belt consumer behavior,” because like a hungry fiend infront of rotating sushi (or dimsum), consumers tend to pick what’s infront of them right away, and again when they see something they like. Compared to looking at an entire menu and selecting one dish, consumers who don’t know what’s on offer tend to buy more or make multiple purchases.
That is interesting, but what’s more interesting to me is how they categorized shoppers. They introduced the idea of “myopic shoppers,” who are impulsive and tend to buy right away, and “strategic shoppers,” who like to research before making a purchase. The difference between them is the ability (or inability, in the case of the former) to delay gratification.
When people think about consumer behavior, most of the time they think consumers are always myopic. They buy things right away when there’s a promotion, or discount, or during a flash sale. And while it’s true that these “incentives” or “sweeteners” can encourage a purchase, there are consumers who enjoy the time spent researching a purchase, especially if it’s a big one.
I could be considered both a myopic and strategic shopper, depending on the situation. When I was younger, I was more myopic because when I see something I really like and I can afford, I like to own it. But as I matured, and had been influenced by the 2009 recession, I understand the value of not spending too much or all at once. I realize there’s a certain joy in pacing oneself when making a purchase– the more you add time to a decision, the more you can sleep on it to test how much you like something, as well as open a plethora of options that was not obvious before, or learn about the history, or art or subculture of a product, as you do more research.
Read more about the working paper of the HBR writers here: