How and why conversational value leads to happiness for experiential and material purchases

Wilson Bastos*, Merrie Brucks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


This work presents convergent evidence that experiential purchases are more conducive to interpersonal conversations than are material purchases- that is, experiences have higher conversational value, which helps explain why they afford consumers greater happiness than do objects (Van Boven and Gilovich 2003). Further, two experiments demonstrate that factors known to differ between experiential and material purchases-closeness to the self, social approval, and purchase uniqueness-help explain why experiences are preferred as a topic of conversation over objects, and suggest a social motivation for talking more about experiences. Indeed, when the motivation to build a relationship with the conversation partner is removed, the preference to share about experiences (vs. objects) disappears. Together, these findings add to and help integrate the growing literature on the relation between purchase type (material vs. experiential) and purchase-related happiness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)598-612
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Conversational value of the purchase
  • Experiential vs. material purchases
  • Purchase-related happiness


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