The Power of Passion: How Seller Enjoyment Boosts Sales

Jake Teeny

If you were trying to sell a product at a farmer’s market or on, what would you say about it to entice buyers? 

Peer-to-peer marketplaces like these are one of the fastest growing marketplaces – but also one of the most competitive. So, whether you’re thinking about starting a side hustle or becoming a business owner, how would you convince people that your offerings are worth buying? 

In research that my colleagues and I conducted, we wanted to understand what kinds of things sellers should say to try to convince buyers to pay for their products/services. And we found that one of the most influential pieces of information to communicate is how much the seller enjoys producing what they’re selling. 

The Impact of Enjoyment on Sales 

Enjoyment is the feeling of fun, pleasure, or liking attributed to engaging in an activity. And although enjoyment is an important experience in any independent seller’s production process, sellers rarely mention it when describing their products/services.  

In fact, across 3,000 Etsy profiles, only 1% of sellers mentioned they enjoy what they do. But as our research shows, sellers might be making a mistake by not describing their enjoyment. 

In one study, we showed one of two real advertisements to business owners on Facebook. One of the ads described a business service where the seller had a lot of experience. The other ad described a service where the seller had a lot of experience and they enjoyed offering it. 

Between the two ads, the one that mentioned enjoyment received significantly higher clicks.  

In another study, we reserved a booth at a university’s student fair. At the booth, we had two brownies, each with a different quote from the head chef beside it. One quote described the brownie as her most popular brownie. The other quote described the brownie as the one she most enjoys making. 

After 300 people stopped by our booth, around 67% chose the enjoyably made brownie over the popular one, further showing the power that communicating one’s enjoyment can have. 

But why would seller enjoyment matter? We found that a seller’s enjoyment signals to the buyer that the product or service is probably high quality. When a seller communicates that they enjoy making or doing something, buyers infer that the seller must be intrinsically motivated. The extra effort and focus that comes from this motivation suggests to buyers that high enjoyment products/services are of a high quality. 

Limitations of Enjoyment in Low-Skill Tasks 

Of course, sellers shouldn’t always signal their enjoyment. In particular, we suspected that if someone enjoys a low skill task, it suggests that this level of skill is their maximum ability. In other words, enjoyment here should no longer signal a higher-quality offering. 

To test this hypothesis, we created a fake but real-looking website for a dog washing service. On it, some of the tasks required a lot of skill, while others required very little skill. According to our theory, enjoyment should only increase buyers’ payment for high skill tasks. 

But to test whether this was true, we needed a sample of actual dog owners. 

Normally, this would be a more challenging sample to collect, but fortunately, we were able to use Connect by CloudResearch. Through Connect, we simply indicated that we wanted to collect dog owners, and voilà, only dog owners took our experiment – and showed what we predicted! 

When dog washers (sellers) needed a lot of skill, our dog owners (buyers) were willing to pay more for the high enjoyment washer. However, when the dog washer didn’t need much skill (most of the washing was automated), dog owners were no longer willing to pay more for the washer who enjoyed doing the service. 

Misconceptions About Enjoyment Among Sellers 

Above, I described how sellers don’t generally communicate their enjoyment to buyers. But if enjoyment really has this positive effect on them, why don’t they? 

As it turns out, sellers actually think they should charge less for high enjoyment tasks. In other words, buyers are willing to pay more for high enjoyment tasks, which are the very same tasks that sellers are willing to charge the least for. 

Our research suggests that sellers see high enjoyment as reducing the “emotional labor” that goes into the job. So, because it’s “fun” to do high enjoyment jobs, they don’t feel like they should charge as much for it. 

But this couldn’t be further from the truth! 

In another study, we examined the 100 most common jobs and asked people how enjoyment would affect their buying and selling prices. Across all 100 jobs, buyers consistently said they would pay more for sellers who enjoy the work. At the same time, sellers consistently said they would charge less for this very same work. 

So, when it comes time to sell your own products or services, make sure to tell buyers that you enjoyed the process! Well, assuming, you actually did. 


Paley, A., Smith, R., Teeny, J., & Zane, D. (2024). Production enjoyment asymmetrically impacts buyers’ willingness to pay and sellers’ willingness to charge. Journal of Marketing.  

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