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Happiness beyond monetary rewards: The socio-emotional benefits of selling handcrafted products

Prof. Benedikt Schnurr and his colleagues find that selling their handmade products increases individuals’ happiness beyond any economic returns from sales.

An ever-increasing number of people is selling their handcrafted products on electronic platforms such as Etsy, Amazon Handmade, or Artfire. Following the core assumption across many disciplines that producers enter market exchange relationships for economic reasons, one would expect that the major benefit that these people derive from selling their products economic returns that is money. However, Prof. Benedikt Schnurr and his colleagues Prof. Christoph Fuchs, Elisa Maira, Stefano Puntoni, Martin Schreier and Prof. Stijn van Osselaer demonstrate that the rise of people selling their craft cannot be explained by a pure desire to make money. They find that selling their handmade products increases individuals’ happiness beyond any economic returns from sales––an effect they call the ‘sales-as-signal effect’.

They elaborate on this effect in the article “Sales and Self: The Non-Economic Value of Selling the Fruits of One’s Labor“, which was published recently in the Journal of Marketing, a journal that develops and disseminates knowledge about real-world marketing questions relevant to scholars, educators, managers, consumers, policy makers and other societal stakeholders. The Journal of Marketing is the premier outlet for substantive research in marketing. The article describes the finding that individuals selling their products interpret sales as a signal from the market, which serves as a source of self-validation. In other words, people who sell more of their self-made products feel more skilled and competent, which in turn makes them happier.

In addition, selling their self-made products increases individuals’ happiness more when buyers make a deliberate choice to purchase sellers’ products and when buyers incur higher monetary costs, even when those higher costs do not translate to higher monetary returns for the seller. Further, the article shows that individuals are happier when others buy their products than when others ‘like’ their products, even when buying a product is not more costly than ‘liking’ a product. Finally, the scientists demonstrate that selling self-made products makes individuals happier than selling products that were made by someone else and that failing to sell their craft decreases individuals’ happiness compared to the happiness they gain from merely producing the products. Their research thus elucidates the non-economic value of sales: selling makes people happy above and beyond the monetary rewards from those sales.

Benedikt Schnurr is Professor of Marketing, TUM School of Management, Technical University of Munich, Germany. His research interests include new market(ing) phenomena, biases in interpersonal judgments and decision-making, and social inequality and consumption. Christoph Fuchs  Professor of Marketing, Faculty of Business, Economics, and Statistics, University of Vienna, Austria. His research interests include customer empowerment and integration, process and production innovation and consumer response to novel marketing strategies and tactics. Elisa Maira is Marketing Intelligence Manager at Ortec Finance, The Netherlands. Stefano Puntoni is Professor of Marketing, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, The Netherlands. His research interests are in the area of autonomous technology adoption, both in consumer markets and production. Martin Schreier is Professor of Marketing, Department of Marketing, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria. His research interests include product and brand management, creativity and new product development, and consumer behavior. Stijn van Osselaer is S.C. Johnson Professor of Marketing at the Johnson Graduate School of Management, in Ithaca, USA. His research focuses on branding, customer loyalty, connecting customers with service providers, and the influences of learning, memory, and cognition in consumers’ decisions.

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