Consumers enjoy products more in the long run if they don't overuse them when first purchased, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
"Consumers are naturally prone to consume products they enjoy too rapidly for their own good, growing tired of them more quickly than they would if they slowed down," write authors Jeff Galak (Carnegie Mellon University), Justin Kruger (New York University), and George Loewenstein (Carnegie Mellon University).
We often face decisions about how rapidly to consume products we enjoy: how quickly to eat a favorite dessert; how often to listen to a favorite song; or how frequently to play a new video game. But do we make choices that maximize our enjoyment of such products? It turns out that there may a selfish reason to resist the temptation to overindulge.
The authors asked consumers to eat a well-liked food such as chocolate or play an exciting video game either at their own pace or at longer intervals. When consumers were given the ability to choose a rate of consumption and that decision was constrained to force them to consume slowly, they enjoyed the overall experience more than those who either chose their rate of consumption in an unconstrained manner or those whose rate of consumption was chosen for them.
Because consumers choose to consume too quickly, they don't appreciate that spacing out consumption decreases satiation and thereby increases enjoyment. Paradoxically, we tend to make choices that will bring us less pleasure overall.
"When you are lucky enough to be able to choose how often to consume the things you enjoy, space out your consumption. Not only will the experience last longer, but it will be more enjoyable as well," the authors conclude.