It’s an old truism that it’s better not to go shopping on an empty stomach. However, the wrong stomach content can also tempt you to buy more. This is reported by an international research group from the USA, France and Spain in the journal »Journal of Marketing«.
The team led by marketing researcher Dipayan Biswas from the University of South Florida set up a concession stand in front of several shops in France and Spain. There was either regular espresso, a decaffeinated version or water at different times. In another test setup, the scientists lured the test subjects to a nearby cafeteria before they went shopping and bought them something to drink there. If the more than 300 volunteers had a hot drink with caffeine before going shopping, they spent more money afterwards. The purchases also included more »hedonistic« products, i.e. those that serve entertainment purposes.
The effect diminished in people who typically drank more than two cups of coffee a day. So those with a high caffeine tolerance may be immune to impulse buying coffee: caffeine causes an increased release of dopamine in the brain, which is reflected in increased impulsiveness when shopping, according to Biswas. According to the marketing researcher, “consumers who want to control their desire to buy should therefore not consume any caffeinated beverages before shopping”.