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New research shows that angry customers stick to their goals, which “can actually lead them to make better decisions, easier decisions, and more satisfying decisions,” says Alexander DePaoli, an associate teaching professor of marketing at Northeastern who co-authored the research.

Buy angry. Be happy.

New research shows that angry customers stick to their goals, which “can actually lead them to make better decisions, easier decisions, and more satisfying decisions,” says Alexander DePaoli, an associate teaching professor of marketing at Northeastern who co-authored the research. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

We’ve all made decisions in the heat of the moment. But think about a time when that decision was a purchase—do you regret that purchase? Statistically, probably not. 

New research shows that customers who shop while angry are more likely to be happy with their purchase. So, yes, getting those new shoes could literally be “all the rage.”

Alexander DePaoli is an associate teaching professor of marketing at Northeastern. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

These six studies, conducted by Alexander DePaoli, associate teaching professor of marketing at Northeastern, and researchers from the University of Miami and Northwestern University, showed a trend: Angry shoppers are more likely to stick to their product goals, which, DePaoli says, “can actually lead them to make better decisions, easier decisions, and more satisfying decisions.”

This isn’t a rage-to-shopping pipeline: Getting mad doesn’t persuade you to go buy things. But if you’re already in the market for a fast laptop, and then something else gets you worked up, faced with the opportunity to buy a fast laptop, you’re less likely to get distracted by other options. Anger gives you laser focus for the original feature you came for (e.g., fast hardware) and the ability to tune out the ones you didn’t (e.g., large screen, cheap price tag).

Marketers may try to lure you off course; sales happen when you believe that you need something more, something better. Came to the store for a lightweight flashlight, but the more expensive, heavy-duty one might last longer? Now you’re unsure.

The heavy-duty flashlight might be indestructible, but, says DePaoli, since “choosing a product in line with your goals is not the same as choosing the absolute best product,” the “absolute best product” won’t actually suit your needs—you came for something lightweight. A sales person sweeping in at just the right time could make you forget that, but if you’re in a sour mood, you’re less likely to derail.

But not only that—you’ll also be more satisfied with your decision in the long run. After participants in one of the researchers’ studies were offered a choice of either cookies or cash that amounted to the same value, regardless of the perk they chose, says DePaoli, “angry participants were happier.”

So the next time someone cuts you off on the way to the store, you could try leaning into it. Whatever purchase you make once you arrive might be in the heat of the moment, but the satisfaction could be a nice, slow burn.

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