For some of us, it’s more of a rare opportunity than for others: Being able to “splurge” on yourself. The amount of dollars involved in such a splurge may vary widely, based on income and/or personal beliefs. 72% of us do take those opportunities to splurge – but our choices on what that splurge involves also vary widely.

From January 1 to September 10, 2014, we’ve had a question about splurging running on our CivicScience polling network and during that time, we collected 16,857 anonymous respondents weighted for U.S. census representativeness for gender and age, 18 years and older. What we found was quite interesting…

Consumer splurging purchase behavior research

Respondents were asked to pick from a range of options – both goods and services – to indicate their go-to choice when they make a splurge purchase. While a clothing shopping spree is the highest-ranking choice among those who splurge, there are clear differences between those who select one splurge option over others.

We’ll break it down into two tables – one for “tangible” products and the other for services – and reveal some of the attributes of who is more likely to select that option than others:

Those more likely to splurge on products:

Consumer more likely to splurge on products - market research

Those more likely to splurge on services:

Consumers more likely to splurge on services - market research

Interesting summary points:

  • Men are more likely to splurge on food, drink, and events, while women dominate the other categories.
  • Those aged 35-44 seem to be the “sweet spot” ages for splurging.
  • Those who characterize themselves as more freely parting with money (“spendthrifts”) have little difficulty spending on nearly every category – except on expensive meals, where the self-reported “tightwads” index highest. Perhaps those meals are seen as more practical, or special occasions shared with others?
  • Parents gravitate towards splurging on physical pampering and expensive food and liquor. We can’t blame them; they deserve it.
  • Those who are more likely to splurge on expensive liquor are 2X more likely to not use Facebook than to be an active Facebook user.

So who is missing out on self-splurging indulgence? Respondents who say they don’t splurge on themselves are 39% more likely to be men; make under $50,000 per year; live in a rural area; be an older adult, aged 45+ years;  be a grandparent (they are 48% more likely not to splurge than parents and 126% more likely than non-parents); never or almost never exercises. They are also more likely to also characterize them self as a tightwad vs. more freely parting with their money. But if most of them are making lower-incomes, splurging may always be seen as an expensive activity.

From the data we found, it seems for the most part, people who do splurge say they are happier than those who don’t splurge. The happiest of all the splurgers are those who buy expensive liquor (maybe they were indulging in their splurge item while answering our poll question. But let’s hope not.).

The good news is that regardless of income and tightwad tendencies, we can all splurge on little things that make us feel a bit better. Here a few links with some ideas for men and women of all ages: