NewsCaffeine linked to higher spending: Study reveals surprising effects

Caffeine linked to higher spending: Study reveals surprising effects

Caffeine affects how much we spend on shopping.
Caffeine affects how much we spend on shopping.
Images source: © Getty Images | damircudic

11:28 AM EDT, July 10, 2024

If you want to limit your spending and avoid impulsive reactions to "promotion" signs during your visit to the shopping center, you might want to skip the coffee. Research from the University of South Florida indicates caffeine can significantly influence spending behavior.

An experiment conducted by the research team across three different retail stores revealed that customers who drank a cup of free caffeinated coffee before entering the store spent, on average, 50% more money and bought 30% more products than those who consumed decaffeinated coffee or water. The results were published in the "Journal of Marketing."

This is how caffeine affects buying decisions

"Increased dopamine levels lead to increased impulsive behavior and decreased self-control" said Dipayan Biswas from the University of South Florida, a member of the research team.

As part of the experiment, coffee machines were placed at the entrances to a shopping mall, a home goods store in France, and a department store in Spain. Over 300 customers received a free cup of coffee upon entering the store – half chose coffee containing about 100 mg of caffeine, while the rest opted for decaffeinated coffee or water. Customers presented their receipts to the researchers after completing their shopping. It was found that those who consumed caffeinated coffee spent more money and bought more products compared to those who drank non-caffeinated beverages.

Massager instead of a notebook: shopping under the influence of impulse

Researchers also noticed that caffeine affects the types of products purchased. Those who drank caffeinated coffee more frequently chose unnecessary items, such as scented candles.

A similar experiment was conducted in a laboratory setting, this time focusing on online shopping. Two hundred business school students were divided into groups: one drinking decaffeinated coffee and the other caffeinated coffee. They were asked to choose items from a list containing 66 options. Those consuming caffeine more often chose impulse-buy items, like a massager, while the others preferred practical items, such as a notebook.

"From a consumer perspective, although moderate amounts of caffeine consumption can have positive health benefits, there can be unintended negative financial consequences of caffeine intake on spending. Thus, consumers trying to control impulsive spending should avoid consuming caffeinated beverages before shopping," emphasized Dipayan Biswas.

Coffee before shopping? Store owners have something to think about

According to researchers, understanding how caffeine affects our spending is essential because coffee is one of the most potent stimulants that remains legal and widely available.

American scientists also suggest that store owners aiming to maximize profits might consider the influence of caffeine on customers' moods in their marketing strategies.

Related content