“The Pleasure and Pain of Paying: Understanding How Payment Aesthetics Shape the Purchase Experience” by Dr. Freeman Wu
Dr. Freeman Wu
Assistant Professor of Marketing
Owen Graduate School of Management
Financial institution, service providers, and retailers recognize the importance of offering their credit, debit, and gift cards to customers in attractive card designs. For example, credit cards ranging from the Chase Sapphire in the U.S. to the EPOS Visa in Japan have been praised for their eye-catching designs, Capitol One and Wells Fargo readily encourage their clients to design their own credit card cards, and companies from Starbucks to Sephora regularly promote and release highly attractive gift card packaging and card designs. Given the rising popularity of credit and gift card aesthetics, the current research examines the impact that payment aesthetics can have on the overall purchase experience. Across a series of studies, we demonstrate that the aesthetics and design of a payment can enhance the consumption experience by increasing the “pleasure of paying,” or the gratification derived from spending money. In other words, payment aesthetics make the act of spending more pleasurable and enjoyable, which in turn results in greater spending and satisfaction. However, when the payment’s attractiveness must be compromised through spending (e.g. ripping attractive gift card packaging to access a gift card), we propose consumers will experience greater pain from paying, which in turn reduces spending and decreases purchase satisfaction. Taken together, our work not only introduces the pleasure of payment construct to the literature, which we argue is conceptually distinct from pain, but we also identify payment aesthetics as a novel source of pain of payment, one that is exogenous to the payment and unrelated to its fiscal value.