According to University of South Florida researchers, coffee and credit cards may be the worst nightmare of a financial planner. Scientists report that shoppers who consume a free cup of coffee prior to shopping spend 50 percent more money and purchase 30 percent more items than non-caffeinated shoppers.
“As a potent stimulant, caffeine releases dopamine in the brain, which stimulates the mind and body. In turn, this increases impulsivity and decreases self-control, says Dipayan Biswas, the Frank Harvey Endowed Professor of Marketing at the University of South Florida, in a university release. “As a result, caffeine consumption increases shopping impulsivity as measured by the number of items purchased and the amount spent.”
Researchers installed espresso machines at the entrances of a retail chain and home goods store in France, as well as a department store in Spain, to reach these conclusions.
Upon entering these stores, more than 300 customers were given an empty cup as a gift. Approximately half of these shoppers ordered coffee containing approximately 100 mg of caffeine, while the other half opted for decaf coffee or water. Importantly, customers also provided researchers with their receipts as they exited the stores.
Those who consumed caffeinated coffee purchased significantly more items and spent significantly more money.
Coffee increases impulse purchases.
Interestingly, caffeine consumption appears to influence the types of items that people purchase. Caffeine-consuming shoppers purchased more non-essential items (candles, fragrances) than others. However, there were few differences between caffeinated and decaffeinated consumers when it came to purchasing more practical items (kitchen utensils, storage baskets).
The authors of the study also conducted a fourth lab experiment to determine the effect of caffeine on online shopping. They divided 200 business school students based on whether they had recently consumed caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee. Then, each individual had to choose which of 66 items they would purchase. Again, those who consumed caffeine selected more “impulsive” items (such as a massager) from the list than those who consumed decaffeinated beverages.