Last week I was pining for something new. I have a new job, but it is not expected to materialize until a few weeks. And hence the lousy thought of acquiring a new object made me zero down to a handy instrument. And of course, Nokia was the natural choice.

My colleagues know my long lasting quest for the right handset. And they have reasons to believe that by way of researching, I am only spending my time, and do not really intend to purchase one (is it such a big deal?). But last evening, I had narrowed down my search to 3 models, all from the Finnish Giant.

I went off in the evening with the idea of buying a handset, along with a USB external hard drive and a pen drive (though I had a 256 MB one already). The USB devices didn’t raise high on my priority list. Yet my pursuit for the appropriate device took me to the e-mall on CR Avenue. I was thrilled by the display of pen drives, ipods and its allied forms, external hard drives, speakers and other computer accessories. Now, even the mobile store didn’t manage to catch my interest as much as the others did.

I ended up buying a 4 GB pen drive and a 160 GB USB hard drive, and I am now busy taking backups [and happy]. The mobile phone was obviated.

This flippancy is not new. A few years ago I used to visit the centerstage mall in Noida, and visit shops, and often end up buying things I didn’t need. When I look at my behavior in the times of yore, it bemuses me. Why? Because I indulged in retail therapy, without even knowing the term (another management buzzword?)

My last evening’s experience told me that I was not looking for a mobile phone per se, but something I could acquire, so that I could feel good about it. The USB drives fit the bill quite well. The retail therapy has become quite a buzzword in the recent times. I often find articles based on this topic. So what is it? And how does it affect us?

In this era of higher spendable money, the equipped can take the liberty to indulge in the process. So many malls have been opening that give you the experience for cash. The focus has now moved from products to services. And services by their very nature attract higher margins. And hence the retail industry is coming up in a big way (today I heard M&S CEO Sir Stuart Rose looking at India to deliver 50% of the international sales in the next 5 years).

The retail therapy is shopping to enhance one’s mood. It is well known that moods are the effects of chemical reactions of the brain (chemical locha??). yet when one does feel bored or lack of excitement, retail therapy can definitely act as an antidote.

This takes me to another line of thought. By positioning products and services appropriately, marketers can effectively deliver high value. This is the value proposition that allows multiplexes to charge rates that are multiple times of than any conceivable estimate of the expenses involved. And marketing effectiveness requires a huge application of brain, and an acute understanding of consumer psychology. We have agencies specializing in this area, though the industry needs time to mature.

It is an interesting to be happy with the prospect of buying a utility (and not an unnecessary item that will add to household inventory). Philosophically, there are so many ways to achieve happiness, but the therapeutic effect of shopping might be the easiest !! 😀

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