To control impulse buying, don’t drink coffee before shopping

This study highlights the increasing trend of placing coffee bars near retail store entrances.


By: Kimberly Rodrigues

For those trying to control impulsive spending – make sure you stay away from coffee and other caffeinated drinks before shopping.

A new study published in the Journal of Marketing has revealed that caffeine consumption affects purchases and even how much they end up spending.

Researchers have observed that drinking caffeine-containing beverages also affects the types of items shoppers purchase during shopping, largely leading to a strong preference for pleasure-seeking, sensual items.

These items include chocolates, fragrances, candles, massagers, decorative items and luxury holidays, reports the Mirror.

But on the other hand, items such as kitchen utensils, stationery, and storage items turned out to be less favored by shoppers who consumed caffeinated drinks before shopping.

A study led by the University of South Florida (USF) found that drinking coffee (which contains caffeine) before shopping caused shoppers to spend about 50 percent more than shoppers who drank only water or decaffeinated coffee.

In addition, caffeinated coffee drinkers also reported buying nearly 30 percent more items than those who did not consume caffeine before shopping.

The Health website informs that this study highlights an increasing trend of placing coffee bars near retail store entrances.

Lead author Dipayan Biswas, Frank Harvey Endowed Professor of Marketing at USF, told Science Daily, “Caffeine, being a powerful stimulant, releases dopamine in the brain, which excites the mind and body. This leads to a higher energetic state, which in turn increases impulsivity and decreases self-control. As a result, caffeine intake leads to more impulsive shopping in terms of the number of items purchased and greater spending.”

Another author of the paper adds, “Understanding how and why caffeine consumption affects spending is important because caffeine is one of the most potent stimulants legally and widely available,” the Mirror said.

To prove the link, studies of people entering shopping centers were conducted by social scientists around the world. While some customers were given caffeinated drinks, others were given decaffeinated drinks or water.

Trials conducted in Spain and France were reportedly convincing and the authors were quoted as saying, “We found that the caffeine group spent more money and bought more items than those who drank decaffeinated coffee or water.”

Caffeine consumption was also reported to have an impact on the types of items the participants purchased. Thus, shoppers who consumed caffeinated coffee ended up buying more non-essential items, such as scented candles and fragrances, compared to other shoppers who didn’t consume caffeine.

The Mirror informs that this happens because coffee triggers a state of physical arousal in the body, and this makes us more sensitive to the features of a product, so that we are more swayed by pleasing aesthetics.

Biswas notes that while moderate caffeine intake can have positive health benefits, there are unintended consequences of being ‘under the influence’ of caffeine while shopping.

According to the study authors, low to moderate doses of coffee (30mg to 100mg) can be conducive to shopping while higher doses tend to lead to a more tense and difficult busy life.

They conclude by saying, “Policymakers may also want to inform consumers about the potential effects of caffeine on spending.”

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