In fact, the trend toward emotional value is exactly what psychological research would predict. Particularly as incomes rise, people find that additional experiences give them more pleasure than additional possessions.
In research reported last year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Leaf Van Boven of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Thomas D. Gilovich of Cornell University used two surveys and a lab experiment to test whether people reported greater happiness from "experiential purchases" or "material purchases." In almost all cases, they found that subjects preferred experiences to goods.
But aren't experiences and their memories non-material possessions? Does going on a luxury cruise fill the same void that buying a luxury car does, and if so, is it any more meaningful? Maybe the need or desire to "collect" experiences is just another form of materialism. Or maybe I'm just blowing hot air.