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Don’t drink coffee or shop, researchers warn


Caffeine, a popular stimulant, affects our shopping choices, causing us to spend more money and make impulse purchases, according to a new study.

Researchers recently discovered a surprising effect of caffeine on purchases. The international team recommends that “consumers trying to control impulse spending avoid consuming caffeinated beverages before shopping.”

The reason? They found that caffeine impacts what consumers buy and how much they spend when shopping. Caffeinated products such as coffee, tea, energy drinks and more are popular choices to drink before or during the shopping experience, whether in person or online.

Their research has been published in the Marketing Review.

The researchers conducted three experiments in retail stores. They note that shopping while drinking caffeinated beverages or just after drinking caffeinated beverages “is further facilitated by the growing prevalence of coffee shops and also by the fact that some retail stores have coffee bars. in-store and offer free caffeinated beverages.

The research team found that shoppers who drank a cup of caffeinated coffee before walking into stores spent about 50% more money and bought nearly 30% more items than shoppers. who drank decaffeinated or water.

“Caffeine, as a powerful stimulant, releases dopamine in the brain, which excites the mind and body. This leads to a higher energy state, which in turn improves impulsivity and decreases self-control,” said lead author Dipayan Biswas, Frank Harvey Endowed Professor of Marketing at the University of South Florida.

“As a result, caffeine consumption leads to buying impulsiveness in terms of more items purchased and greater spending.”

The research team installed an espresso machine at the entrances of a retail chain and household goods store in France and a department store in Spain. Upon arrival, approximately 300 shoppers were offered a choice of coffee with 100mg of caffeine, or decaffeinated or water. After they finished shopping, they shared their receipts with the researchers.

The researchers found that shoppers who had a caffeinated beverage purchased significantly more items and spent more money than those who had decaf or water.

They wrote: “Results of a series of experiments conducted in the field (in several retail stores in different countries) and in the laboratory show that the consumption of a caffeinated drink (compared to a non-caffeinated drink caffeinated) before purchases improves impulsivity in terms of higher number of items purchased and higher expenditures.

Caffeine-stimulated impulsivity not only increased spending, but it also impacted the types of items shoppers purchased. The researchers wrote: “This effect is stronger for ‘high hedonic’ products and attenuated for ‘low hedonic’ products.”

What does that mean? People who drank caffeinated coffee bought more non-essential items than other shoppers, such as scented candles and perfumes. In contrast, there was negligible difference between the two groups when it came to practical purchases, such as kitchen utensils and storage baskets.

In addition to the experiments in stores in Europe, the researchers organized a fourth experiment, this time in a laboratory. They were able to replicate the results of field experiments.

There were 200 business school students in the lab study. The researchers split them in half and offered them caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee before asking them to choose items from a list of 66 shopping options.

Business school students who drank caffeinated coffee selected more items considered impulse buys, such as a massager, while members of the decaffeinated group selected more practical items, such as a notebook.

“While moderate amounts of caffeine may have health benefits, there may be unintended consequences to caffeine when shopping,” Biswas said.

“That is, consumers trying to control impulse spending should avoid consuming caffeinated beverages before shopping.”

Source: TRTWorld and agencies