Shoppers should avoid coffee because it increases impulse purchases


Bean counters: Shoppers feeling the pinch should avoid drinking COFFEE before buying groceries as caffeine increases the chance of making impulse purchases, study warns

  • Shoppers should avoid coffee before doing groceries if they want to save money
  • That is the conclusion of a new study into how caffeine impacts what people buy 
  • Public more likely to make ‘impulse buys’ and spend more after drinking caffeine
  • An international team of researchers ran three experiments in large retail stores

Shoppers feeling the pinch should avoid drinking coffee before buying groceries because caffeine increases the chance of making impulse purchases, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that people who drank a cup of caffeinated coffee before hitting the shops spent about 50 per cent more money and bought nearly 30 per cent more items than those who drank decaf or water. 

The international study saw experts carry out three experiments in large retail stores that are increasingly adding coffee bars near their entrances. 

Lead author Professor Dipayan Biswas, of the University of South Florida, said: ‘Caffeine, as a powerful stimulant, releases dopamine in the brain, which excites the mind and the body.

‘This leads to a higher energetic state, which in turn enhances impulsivity and decreases self-control.

‘As a result, caffeine intake leads to shopping impulsivity in terms of higher number of items purchased and greater spending.’

Shoppers feeling the pinch should avoid drinking coffee before doing the groceries because it increases the chance of making impulse purchases, a new study suggests (stock image)

Researchers found that people who drank a cup of caffeinated coffee before hitting the shops spent about 50 per cent more money and bought nearly 30 per cent more items than those who drank decaf or water

Researchers found that people who drank a cup of caffeinated coffee before hitting the shops spent about 50 per cent more money and bought nearly 30 per cent more items than those who drank decaf or water

The experiments involved setting up an espresso machine at the entrances of a retail chain and home goods store in France and a department store in Spain.

On entry, more than 300 shoppers were provided a complimentary cup — with about half offered coffee that contained around 100 mg of caffeine and the others decaf or water. They then shared their receipts with the researchers as they exited the stores.

The study showed that those who had caffeine purchased a ‘significantly higher’ number of items and spent more money compared to those who had decaf or water.

Researchers found that caffeine also impacted what types of items people bought. 

Those who had it bought more non-essential items, such as scented candles and fragrances, than the other shoppers.

However, there was a minimal difference between the two groups when it came to ‘utilitarian’ buys, such as kitchen utensils and storage baskets.

The international study saw experts carry out three experiments in large retail stores that are increasingly adding coffee bars near their entrances, including this one in France (pictured)

The international study saw experts carry out three experiments in large retail stores that are increasingly adding coffee bars near their entrances, including this one in France (pictured)

The researchers then set up a fourth experiment in a lab and received similar results, this time regarding online shopping.

They split the study pool of 200 business school students between those who drank caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and asked them to pick which items they’d buy from a pre-selected list of 66 options.

Those who drank caffeine picked more items considered to be impulsive buys — such as a massager — while others selected more practical items like a notebook.

Prof Biswas added: ‘While moderate amounts of caffeine intake can have positive health benefits, there can be unintended consequences of being caffeinated while shopping.

‘That is, consumers trying to control impulsive spending should avoid consuming caffeinated beverages before shopping.’

The study has been published in the Journal of Marketing.

BENEFITS OF DRINKING COFFEE

Caffeine has been deemed safe for consumption in doses of up to 400 mg per day for the general population. 

Studies suggest it can have a variety of health benefits, including combating liver disease and type two diabetes.

Research has even suggested it could even help people live longer.

It is the world’s most widely consumed stimulant and reports show it can boost daily energy expenditure by around five per cent.

Researchers have said combining two to four daily coffees with regular exercise would be even more effective at keeping the weight off.

A 2015 study showed just a couple of cups a day could help millions of dieters stay trim once they have achieved their desired weight. 

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