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Financially Deprived Consumers, More Likely to Seek Scarce Products

Update Date: Apr 16, 2012 09:05 PM EDT

Consumers are suggested to be vigilant when shopping in a state of deprivation, specially under global financial crisis.

The financially deprived buyers are more likely to seek scarce products, found the researchers from New York University  . 

"The global financial crisis has badly shaken the financial stability of consumers, small businesses, large financial institutions, and even national governments," wrote Eesha Sharma and Adam L. Alter, authors of the study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research. 

"The results of this study suggest that consumers ought to be vigilant when shopping in a state of deprivation, since their purchasing decisions might be unduly swayed by the ensuing experience of discomfort," the authors wrote. 

"Meanwhile, scarcity marketing might be a useful tool for policy makers who seek to promote adaptive behaviors like healthy eating, physical exercise, and financial saving," they added.

In one study, researchers approached people in a New York City park and asked them how they felt about their financial position compared to their peers and compared to the previous year. 

In another study, New York University undergraduates were prompted through a writing task to experience either deprivation or privilege; they then completed tasks where they picked out objects from visual arrays. 

In a third study, the authors found that financially deprived participants not only consumed more M&Ms than people who felt privileged, but they also preferred scarce ones to abundant ones.

"States of deprivation prompt heightened visual sensitivity to and preference for scarce goods that appear to be unavailable to other consumers," the authors explained. 

Buying behavior is determined by two main factors -internal and external. The internal factors that determine consumer buying behaviour are presented by the various consumer segments. In other words, the particular set of characteristics a segment possess, i.e. demographic, social, cultural, life style, etc., can be described as essential determinants of the segment's buying behaviour. 

On the other hand, there is a set of external factors that can play a significant role in determining consumer behaviour, such as: promotions; advertising; customer service, economic and market stability, etc. 

In this respect, it can be concluded that buying behaviour is significantly determined and influenced by the highly interdependent combination of customers' buying consciousness and external stimuli.

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