The scarcity of beauty: how and why product aesthetics mobilize consumer acquisition effort

Freeman Wu, Martin Reimann, Gratiana Pol, C. Whan Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


While physical beauty has been argued to represent a scarce commodity due to genetic differences in physical attractiveness, we contend that the same notion of scarcity can apply to product aesthetics. In the current research, we investigate how the scarcity inherent in product aesthetics mobilizes the exertion of effort to acquire beautiful products. In other words, to what lengths are consumers willing to go to obtain beautiful products and, more importantly, why? Our work identifies two affective mechanisms that drive the relationship between aesthetics and acquisition effort. Specifically, consumers expend more effort to acquire beautiful products because of the pride they expect to experience from owning something beautiful, along with the instantaneous desire for beauty that compels them to possess the object. We provide convergent support for our conceptualization across a series of eight studies, using a multimethod investigation that incorporates archival, field, and lab data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1245-1265
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Acquisition effort
  • Aesthetics
  • Anticipated ownership pride
  • Instantaneous desire
  • Motivation
  • Scarcity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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