Money can’t buy happiness.
But it can buy you a bump of dopamine. When you buy something you want, your brain produces some pleasurable neurochemicals that actually give you a momentary high.
But then the happy fades - and sometimes it’s replaced by anxiety, guilt, or remorse. You are left with a material possession, which may or may not provide utility or enjoyment over time. But it will certainly never again give you a hit of that sweet drug.
It turns out, however, that thinking about buying something has exactly the same neurological effect as actually buying something. And when you spend your money on an experience, like a vacation or a concert, something you are likely to think about again and again, you can make the magic last. Each time you recall that experience you get a hit.
For brand marketers, this highlights the importance of creating experiences, not just selling products. Because offering your customers a renewable stream of happiness is a great way to drive loyalty.