FEATURE15 March 2021

Can feeling anxious make us more likely to purchase?

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Anxiety can make people more likely to buy a new product – but only if they also feel hopeful, a recent research paper has found. By Katie McQuater.


If we want something positive to happen, the chances are we have a few butterflies in our stomach about how things will pan out. In fact, if you aren’t anxious about something significant, one might surmise you don’t really care about the outcome.

When it comes to buying products, marketers may think anxiety is the last thing they want to be associated with their product. However, a new paper from Imperial College London explores the link between hope and anxiety in the context of product adoption, finding that people who experience strong anxiety about purchasing a new product – but who also feel hopeful about its potential to fit their goals or expectations – are more likely to buy it.

In the paper, the researchers make two hypotheses: that consumers’ intentions to adopt a new product are greatest when hope and anxiety are both strong; and that people’s ‘action planning’ and perceived control over product outcomes mediate the effects of strong hope and anxiety ...