Passion for a hobby is an important purchase justifier for two-thirds of consumers. Hobbies such as collecting, crafts, home workshops, photography, sports, and gardening drive many discretionary purchases. Collecting, for example, is a passion for over 40 percent of U.S. households, or in roughly 43 million homes. As birds of a feather flock together, so do collectors, with an average of 1.7 collectors per collecting household. That makes about 73 million Americans passionately driven to collect.
The most popular collectibles include:
Coins, collected by an estimated 27 million Americans
Figurines and sculpture, 20 million
Trading cards, 18 million
Memorabilia, 16 million
Dolls, 16 million
Christmas items, 15 million
Plush/bean bag toys, 14 million
Crystal figurines, 12 million
Die-cast cars and models, 12 million
Art prints and lithographs, 10 million
Miniatures, 10 million
The typical collecting household maintains more than three separate collections. Out of the 43 million collecting households, an estimated 70 percent purchased one or more items for their collection in the past year.
The main reasons consumers collect include the joy of ownership and the thrill of the hunt. They also like the acquisition of a small luxury that brings pleasure without guilt, the achievement of special knowledge in an obscure subject area, and expression of identity, feelings, and values. As with all hobbies, the act of pursuing the hobby provides as much or more satisfaction and pleasure as that obtained in the completion of the hobby. For example, knitters and needle pointers enjoy the creation of their craft as much if not more than the actual object created. Exercisers and sports enthusiasts enjoy the playing, practicing, and working out as much or more than the toned, healthy body that is a result of their pastime. Collectors prize the search and hunt for the desired object as much or more than the new acquisition. One respondent explains his passion about collecting this way: "Don't you see? Collecting is all about the acquisition." He meant the act of acquiring (the verb), not the thing in and of itself (the noun). That is one reason why hobbyists like collectors are never finished. There is always some new challenge to pursue, some new desired object to find, something else to try.
Both genders are equally motivated by pursuit of a hobby in their discretionary purchases. Younger consumers aged 18 to 44 are more likely to express importance of a hobby in their discretionary purchases. While collecting tends to be more actively pursued among middle-aged consumers, aged 35 to 64, younger consumers collect icons from their youth that they can find and trade on Internet auction sites. By comparison, the oldest consumers, aged 65 and older, are more likely than any other age group to say that a hobby is of no importance at all. Three-or-more-person households rate the interests of a hobby as an important motivator for their discretionary purchases.