Instead, many researchers have been examining other drivers of consumer behaviour, including the buyer’s emotional state, which has been found to influence different stages of the buying process – from the moment one identifies the need for a product to the actual purchase. Studies have shown that people who are in a good mood tend to rate products higher than people in a bad mood.
A key stage in the purchase decision process is the evaluation of product attributes; at this stage, people decide what product features are particularly important to them, and thenuse these criteria in choosing the product.
Research conducted in different branches of psychology identifies three main ways that an individual's emotional state can influence which product attributes they find important:
Patosha and Varavina studied the effect of mood on the way people assessed different attributes of tablets; their assumption was that depending on their current mood, people look for certain product characteristics in making purchasing decisions.
During the preliminary phase of their research, Patosha and Varavina designed a technique for evaluating the strategies people use to research product information before buying. They interviewed ten people who had recently purchased a tablet about their purchasing experience, including the product characteristics they had looked for and the evaluation criteria they had used. Patosha and Varavina found that in purchasing a tablet, the respondents assessed the following product characteristics:
These parameters were then used in the main phase of the research to survey 64 people (40 men and 24 women) who were planning to purchase their first tablet. The respondents were randomly put into two study groups.
The researchers put the first group in a positive mood and the second group in a negative mood using two different clips from The Lion King – a comic scene with Timon and Pumbaa and a sad scene featuring a lion's death – and then measured the subjects' emotional state. "After watching one of the two episodes, each respondent filled the HAM (Health-Activity-Mood) questionnaire," the researchers explain, "and further study involved only those who scored no more than two points on the mood scale after watching the sad episode or at least six points after watching the funny clip."
The subjects were then asked to imagine that they were planning to purchase a tablet and had to decide what model to buy and where. They were given a list of product characteristics and asked to rate each of them on the following scale:
Table 1. Significant mood-related differences in the perceived importance of a tablet’s attributes
Value of the criterion
A wide range of accessories
Promo (gift with purchase)
Friends' advice and opinion
Ease of use
Relatively low price
Good customer support
* P <0.05, ** p <0.01, *** p <0.001.
Thus, the subject's mood was the independent variable, while their assessment of the relative importance of different product characteristics in selecting a tablet was the dependent variable.
It follows from the findings that subjects in a negative mood were more likely to make a cautious and rational choice and to opt for good quality, simple models at a lower price.
In contrast, respondents in a positive mood were more likely to value appearance, such as an interesting design; extras, such as a gift with purchase or a wide selection of accessories, and others people's recommendations. One possible explanation is that they associated these attributes with fun allowing them to maintain their good mood.
People in a good mood were also more likely to trust advertising and other people's advice, and to prefer popular and trendy models.
In contrast, people in a negative mood focused more on function and ease of use.
And finally, people in a good mood favoured new models – a finding consistent with other studies showing that people who are feeling good are more likely to take risks than those who are feeling low.