On a budget? Or on a shop-till-you drop marathon? Either way, what you’re drinking or supplementing with before you head out to the stores could be influencing you in surprising ways!
If you’re fueling yourself through your shopping with coffee in hand, you might want to rethink the caffeine content, according to a study earlier this month from the University of Florida. Even if you’re not intentionally out to spend some extra cash, your decision-making abilities appear to be altered and self-control decreased compared to others who shop without caffeine on board.
To test this theory, researchers designed experiments in department stores by providing shoppers with a free cup of either coffee, decaf, or water, and then compared their receipts to one another at the end of their shopping. Those who had caffeinated coffee ended up with many more items in their bags and spending more money at the end—up to 50% more money and 30% more items!
As surprising as that was, the type of items the caffeinated shoppers were attracted to was also different. When it came to essential household items, like kitchen organizations or storage, there weren’t a lot of differences between the groups of shoppers. However, caffeinated shoppers were more likely to buy more non-essential items, like fragranced candles.
If you’re hoping that your brain isn’t influenced by the dopamine rush that caffeine causes, and you can outsmart this by shopping online, you may want to put a smoothie next to your laptop when you’re shopping. In an experiment designed with online shopping, the tendency to buy non-essentials still showed up more significantly in business school students who consumed caffeine. Even with a pre-selected list of 66 items to choose from, caffeinated shoppers chose more impulsively, going for items like massagers over more practical items on the list like school supplies.
It might be best to wait until after the shopping is done to enjoy your coffee (or take a caffeine supplement) if you’re watching your pennies!
Dipayan Biswas, Patrick Hartmann, Martin Eisend, Courtney Szocs, Bruna Jochims, Vanessa Apaolaza, Erik Hermann, Cristina M. López, Adilson Borges. EXPRESS: Caffeine’s Effects on Consumer Spending. Journal of Marketing, 2022; 002224292211092 DOI: 10.1177/00222429221109247