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Which type of spending or purchases bring more happiness- experiential purchases or material purchases? Does this perception also vary with the social class?

There was a time a couple of years ago that my wife and I were at one of my nephews birthday parties.  We were sitting around looking at all of the toys they already had and then we started looking at all of the new toys they had just gotten.  In addition to that, we were paying attention to how rough they were being with the toys and it kind of just occurred to us both at the same time... "This is nuts". 

From that point on we absolutely decided that if possible, we would rather gift the kids in our life experiences as opposed to things.  Since then we have taken them to countless shows and concerts.  In the grand scheme of things I think the memories and experiences from these events will last a lot longer than the toy that they will probably forget about the next week or the clothes that they will outgrow in a month.  

That isn't to say that we don't still buy them clothes.  I mean kids need to be wearing clothes right?  

For us, it is much more rewarding to be able to spend that time with them and those experiences with them.  The look on their face or the sound of them singing along with the songs is really comparable. 

I think this perception probably does vary with the social class.  I can very much see how kids whose parents might not be as fortunate or have enough tend to value the material things that they are given much more.    You are probably going to find that with many things though.  There is always that desire to not be content and to always want bigger and better.  

Even as they grow on to adulthood.  Being humble and appreciative when they are younger could mitigate that effect.

For my wife and I though, we feel that the experiences are the better choice and for us (and the kids we think) they bring far more happiness.  What could be better than spending time together before our time here is up?


First of all, the perception of happiness out of a particular purchase type does not same with all social class and it does vary from person to person and also from one social class to another. It could also be a compulsion for the economically weaker section of the society.

The individuals who are relatively higher in social class & who are affluent have generally higher purchase power and they may feel greater happiness from purchasing experiences, such as going to a concert or the movies, compared with purchasing material goods, such as a pair of shoes or accessories. On the other hand, lower class individuals may not have the same purchasing pattern and they may even find more happiness when they make material purchases rather than experiential purchases.

Therefore purchasing is something lies with the purchasing power but when it comes to the type of purchasing then the happiness may not be universal for all social class and it may vary from one social class to the other. Some may have more pleasure in buying experiential purchases while others may get more pleasure in buying tangible objects.

However, consumer decision and its pattern vary between higher-class and lower-class consumers. Thus it can be anticipated that the degree of happiness obtained from different types of purchases would also vary by social class.

Individuals of higher social class have an abundance of resources, which means they can afford to focus more on internal growth and self-development. Because experiential purchases are more closely related to the self than material ones, so higher class individuals tend to derive more happiness from an experiential purchase.

Similarly, people who have fewer resources, are likely to be more concerned with resource management and making wise purchases. For lower-class consumers, spending money on concert tickets or a weekend trip might not result in greater happiness than buying a new pair of shoes or a flatscreen TV, or a Refrigerator, etc. In fact, lower class consumers are happiest from purchasing things, which makes sense given that material goods have practical benefit, resale value, and are physically longer lasting. However, in some of the cases, the reason behind such a purchasing pattern could be a priority they have set it in their life. But it is equally true that the purchasing pattern does have a social resemblance to their class. That is not bad rather it constitutes a part of social engineering.

The pattern of purchases and the measurement of social class can be made on the basis of education, income, the person's subjective judgments, etc. But the relationship and the pattern of consumerism and social class is not an overnight phenomenon and in order to establish a pattern, it may require to engineer the data over a period of time to assess a pattern.

The bottom line is that, when it comes to increasing one's happiness through discretionary spending, there is no single right answer of what to buy(whether material purchases or experiential purchases). People's available resources will be the predominant factor and when it will be judged after surpassing the ability of an individual beyond the economic capability, then the pattern could unfold into other dimensions like social class, subjective attitude to buying, priorities, etc. These are important factors when deciding whether to purchase experiences or material goods to be happier.


It actually depends on what makes you happy as a person and this features tends to differ from individual to individual because we are not equal and identical in some aspect of our lives. What makes you happy may not make me happy and what make me happy may not be a source of your happiness. It's just like the popular saying which states that "one man's food is another man's poison".

Some individuals may prefer experimental purchase to be their source of happiness because they prefer to be more knowledgeable other than sticking to materialism. These set of individuals are mostly educated and scholars. They also impact the lives of others by sharing their knowledge with others due to the contagious nature of knowledge. A good example of people with this trait can be traced from the religious scholars, scientists, professors, and other lovers of knowledge.

Materialistic purchase is widely predominant in our present world today as this is the source of happiness for most people. We have people buying latest cars, clothing designers, gadgets, etc because this really makes them happy. The sad reality about this is that materialistic pursuits has led to competition and depression amongst people in our world today such that some people aren't really bothered about how they will earn money either legal or illegal because what matters most is just to get the latest product (materialistic items). We also have some people feeling sad just because they can't afford to wear or buy what their mates or other people are buying in terms of materialistic items which leads to their depression and it also leads to their brutal means of earning money.

From the analysis I made, we can deduct that experimental purchase can help in solving more problems in our lives because it involves the use of knowledge. This implies that experimental purchase has led to the production of materialistic items. The main reasons we have lots of materialistic items around us is because there were actually some people whom came together to produce and update those items as a result of their knowledge (experimental purchase). We can now see that when you purchase knowledge, you can be an inventor of materialistic items.

Does this perception also vary with the social class?

The social class also has a great impact to do with these two types of purchases because the type of people we socialize with sometimes have great impact in our lives. If you are the type that socialize with people whom are in love with experimental purchase, there is high chance you also join them in such purchases and this also applies to materialistic purchases.

In conclusion, the type of purchase that brings more happiness to an individual is directly proportional or dependent on the personal discretion or choice of that individual. Some people are happy when they purchase materialistic items while some are also happy when they engage in experimentation purchases.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps.