Hedonic Objects and Utilitarian Experiences: The Overriding Influence of Hedonism in Driving Consumer Happiness

Sofia Kousi, Georgios Halkias*, Flora Kokkinaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

65 Downloads (Pure)


The experience recommendation prescribes a disadvantage to material purchases, suggesting that spending on experiential rather than material purchases makes people happier. This study challenges this idea by examining the hedonic/utilitarian nature of purchases. The results of a qualitative study and four experiments (one preregistered) show that the happiness advantage of experiential (vs. material) purchases is contingent on pronounced hedonic properties. Our results indicate that hedonism asymmetries override the distinction between purchase type, such that there is no happiness advantage in buying experiences over material objects when purchases are equally (non)hedonic. Importantly, we find that hedonism is more instrumental for material purchases and that hedonic materials are equally effective as experiential purchases, altogether, and even outperform utilitarian experiences in eliciting happiness. Our findings encourage consumers to focus on the properties, rather than the type, of purchases to increase purchase-related happiness. Our results further suggest that marketers of material goods, in particular, can considerably increase customer value by using design components, product features, and brand imagery that leverage hedonic qualities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology & Marketing
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1634-1645
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Published online: 30 May 2023.


  • Experience recommendation
  • Experiential advantage
  • Experiential and material purchases
  • Happiness
  • Hedonic
  • Utilitarian

Cite this