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Needed Pleasures

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In their book Poor Economics, the two economists Barnajee and Duflot reported their studies of the consumption habits of poor families in India. The biggest challenge to development is always education, especially the education of girls. The lack of financial resources was always the reported as the reason that poor families do not send their daughters to school. The claim has always been if they had more money, they would certainly be able to provide access to education for all their children equally. To test this claim, extra income was given to poor families and the research challenge was to determine what percentage of the extra income these families would actually devote to educating their children. Social workers noticed that instead of devoting all the extra income to the education of the children, a large part of the income went to purchasing some comfort foods and items, including cigarettes. It was found that when the households had more income, they would get a cellphone and even a television set, instead of saving all the money for the education of their children.

The search for pleasure is part of human nature, as discussed in the previous section. Somehow, it’s also in our nature to consume now and not save for later or, worse, tomorrow. Why save for later when you can enjoy something in the here and now? It is also proven that humans tend to seek pleasure, and without pleasure people have less motivation and less energy. Our wealthy clients are no different, and mentioning pleasure will trigger another aspect in the decision making process.

In Western culture pleasure is not always a word associated with virtue. This is sometimes owing to religion and cultural background; it is not necessarily the case in other cultures. Why feel bad when you have the possibility to please yourself and offer agreeable experiences and incredible gifts to your loved ones?

Lisa Lam did not need another bag. She just feels that she deserves that pleasure, having not bought a new bag for some time—how long exactly she isn’t sure. In her stressful working life with its worldwide traveling, being able to allow herself a treat from time to time, to purchase the unnecessary, is part of her requirement for pleasure and reward.

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