Constrained consumers: When do people consider what they have to give up in order to buy something?

Every time consumers spend money on a purchase, they are giving up other consumption down the road. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research looks at the factors that lead consumers to consider these "opportunity costs.""Rather than viewing a decision as 'Do I buy or do I not buy?' consumers feeling constrained view the decision as 'Do I buy or do I use my money on something else instead?'" writes author Stephen Spiller (UCLA). Feeling constrained is one major factor that leads consumers to consider how purchasing something now will affect what they can purchase in the future ("opportunity costs"), according to Spiller.To examine consumers' feelings of constraint, Spiller assigned study participants to a monthly budget group or a weekly budget group and gave them the opportunity to make 20 purchases. Those in the monthly group were given a sum of money at the beginning that they could spend throughout, whereas those in the weekly group were given a smaller amount four times throughout the study. "Compa

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