It's the last day of the month and your paycheck arrives tomorrow. You buy a new pair of shoes but have a nagging feeling your money could have been better spent. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers are less satisfied with what they have purchased with their bottom dollar compared to when they have money in the bank.
"As someone spends money, parting with one's remaining funds makes a product feel more costly and causes consumers to be less satisfied with what they buy," write authors Robin L. Soster (University of Arkansas), Andrew D. Gershoff (University of Texas at Austin), and William O. Bearden (University of South Carolina).
To better understand the bottom dollar effect, the authors conducted six studies that measured satisfaction from purchases made with the last of participants' financial resources. Results reveal less satisfaction with a purchase if someone thinks it will be difficult or take a long time (waiting for next year's tax return, for example) to replenish their budget. On the other hand, if someone comes into money without any effort—like winning cash from a contest or a lottery—they are more satisfied with their purchases if funds were running low compared to if they already had plenty of financial resources.
Brands looking to increase customer satisfaction can run product promotions during times of the month when they believe consumers have more money in their budgets. Additionally, to reduce the pain of spending one's last dollar and increase product satisfaction, brands can use coupons and special pricing incentives at times of the month when they believe consumers have exhausted their budgets.
Being aware of our own spending cycles can help increase personal product satisfaction. "While some consumers might be able to mitigate the effects of bottom dollar spending by ignoring their budgets, a more fiscally responsible approach would be to wait a day or two for your paycheck to clear before making a really important purchase," the authors conclude.
Explore further: Constrained consumers: When do people consider what they have to give up in order to buy something?
Robin L. Soster, Andrew D. Gershoff, and William O. Bearden. "The Bottom Dollar Effect: The Influence of Spending to Zero on Pain of Payment and Satisfaction." Journal of Consumer Research: October 2014.