New study finds coffee makes people more likely to impulse buy


ave you ever drunk a coffee, and then had the impulse to purchase something?

Well, if so, you’re not alone. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Marketing, shoppers feeling the pinch of the current cost of living crisis should avoid drinking coffee before buying groceries, because caffeine increases the chances of making impulse purchases.

Researchers found that people who drank a cup of caffeinated coffee before hitting the shops spent 50 per cent more money, and bought 30 per cent more items.

A new study links coffee drinking with impulse buys

/ PA Archive

The lead author of the study Professor Dipayan Biswas, of the University of South of 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.”

Those who engaged in impulse buys had often had caffeine beforehand (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

/ PA Archive

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

Upon entry, 300 shoppers were provided with a complimentary cup of coffee, containing 10mg of caffeine, and upon exiting the stores they submitted their receipts.

Other shoppers were just given decaf coffee or water.

The study revealed that those customers who’d had coffee purchased a “significantly higher” number of items and spent more money than the customers who’d just had water.

Drinking caffeine also affected the items that people bought, with those who’d had it purchasing more non-essential items, such as scented candles and fragrances.

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.”

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