Most people have a "Santa Claus moment" this time of year, when they're knee deep into the "physical hunt" of shopping and "boasting" about nabbing that good deal, according to Mousumi Bose Godbole, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing in Fairfield University's Dolan School of Business.
But what about the American consumer who has 14 pairs of black shoes and 50 fishing rods? With her dissertation, "Why Do I Have Fifty Pairs of Shoes?" Bose Godbole explored "a new shopping behavior" called acquisitive buying behavior. "I'm interested in what goes on in our heads when we are thinking of buying anything," she said.
While many see someone who has 100 pairs of shoes or 500 tools as an individual who is fixated on shopping, Bose Godbole doesn't. "These people are not compulsively buying these things. It's about something else. It's another purchasing behavior."
"While some [shoppers'] motivations relate to compulsive, impulsive or excessive buying, others relate to collecting, hoarding, and stockpiling," she continued. "However, there is a set of consumers who purchase recurrently, have an inventory far greater than that of a typical consumer and yet do not share the negative characteristics of extreme buyers. This set of consumers is termed 'acquisitive buyers' and little research exists to understand them."
In their minds, there can be a 100 million reasons to purchase a 100 million things. "For example, a person might very well need 10 whisks — a three inch whisk, a four inch whisk," said Bose Godbole. "A woman might justify having a closed toe heel and an open toe shoe, and so forth to have the exact shoe for the right occasion."
These shoppers are perfectionists in a positive sense, according to Bose Godbole. "There is one thing for one purpose, and these purposes are so fine-grained. These shoppers have a great sense of preparedness. The need for control is very high for these people, and the search is never-ending. Their process of finding that perfect screwdriver is very serious business." Other hallmarks of these shoppers? Self-control, lack of financial problems and low post-purchase regret.
Understanding this shopping behavior helps businesses.
"Acquisitive buyers are purposeful and deliberate in their shopping, looking for unique benefits to cater to their refined preferences this holiday season," said Bose Godbole. "The more businesses identify them, the better they can create different products for these unique buyers."