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Marsha L. Richins of the University of Missouri wrote about our title in her paper, “When Wanting Is Better Than Having,” in the Journal of Consumer Research. We suggest buying at auction is no different, and possibly even more pertinent to this premise.

The Atlantic‘s Derek Thompson wrote about this phenomenon and referenced Professor Richins’ work. That article can be read here: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/06/why-wanting-expensive-things-makes-us-so-much-happier-than-buying-them/276717/

Related to this theory that the wanting is more rewarding than the buying — akin to the dog who chases the car only to wonder what to do with it when he catches it, we wrote about making it easier/quicker/frictionless to purchase at auction https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/our-frictionless-auction-environment/ and quoted Professor Ludlow of Northwestern University that, “Lack sufficient friction, and paradoxically this is not a good thing.”

Of course, people need to buy things, but even when needing something — it might be the needing that ignites pleasure at least as much as the buying. People also want things, and certainly here there’s evidence the wanting outweighs the buying. The question remains should auctioneers continue to try to reduce the friction to buy?

As I have submitted numerous times, auction terms and conditions, contracts and related paperwork should be minimized as possible, but should the entire process of bidding and buying at auction be streamlined? Could bidding/participating (wanting) become so easy that the buying emotion is not enough to attract bidders?

The Internet continues to make the distance between wanting and buying less and less, and such the feeling of wanting something doesn’t have to wait long … until you don’t have to want it anymore because you have it — the trip is over because you’re at your destination.

We’ve run a weekly auction for many years and occasionally ask longtime attendees, “What brought you in tonight?” One such buyer told me last week that he wanted to get out of the house, stretch his legs a bit, look around … essentially “shop” for whatever caught his eye. In other words, his initial want was to want something … anything apparently.

The challenge for auctioneers ahead might be to make wanting and buying as easy as possible, but not too easy. It appears if we minimize the process of bidding/participating too much, it suggests to me the actual buying might be directed elsewhere?

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.