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How Coffee Influences Your Shopping Decisions


Ever walked into a store, grabbed a complimentary cup of coffee at the entrance, and found yourself inexplicably drawn to items you didn’t originally plan to buy? You might be surprised to learn that it’s not just your wandering eyes at play here. That cup of caffeine goodness could be influencing your shopping choices.

We all love a good caffeine jolt now and then, right? But what if I told you that your favorite wake-me-up could be the very reason behind those unplanned shopping splurges?

The Coffee Effect

Researchers from the University of South Florida delved deep into the world of retail and coffee, a combination more common than you might think. They found something astonishing: participants who had a caffeine kick prior to shopping spent considerably more and bought a wider variety of items than those who stuck with decaf or water. That scented candle or that designer fragrance you didn’t really need? Blame it on the brew!

Now, you might wonder, “How does a simple cup of coffee influence our shopping decisions so much?”

Caffeine and Dopamine

According to lead author Dipayan Biswas, caffeine acts as a stimulant, boosting dopamine levels in our brain. This makes us feel more energetic, enthusiastic, and, unfortunately, a tad impulsive. In short, your caffeinated brain gets a bit carried away and loosens the purse strings, leading to those delightful (or regretful) shopping hauls.

While we’ve seen that caffeine can make us spend more, it’s fascinating to see that it also influences what we buy.

Scented Candles vs. Kitchen Utensils

The research showed that caffeine lovers veered towards more non-essential items like fragrances and decorative candles. On the other hand, the decaf and water drinkers remained largely practical, focusing on items like storage baskets. It’s like caffeine gives us a rose-tinted (or shall we say coffee-tinted?) perspective of the store, making everything look tempting.

Think Online Shopping is Safe? Think Again!

For those of you thinking, “Ah, I shop online, so I’m immune!” — the plot thickens.

In a twist to the tale, a lab experiment mirrored the real-life results, but this time in the realm of online shopping. Participants were given either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee and then presented with a list of items to buy. The results? The caffeine group unsurprisingly gravitated towards impulsive buys.

While caffeine has a myriad of health benefits, Biswas suggests a word of caution for those trying to control impulsive spending. Maybe swap that pre-shopping espresso for a decaf or herbal tea.

So, the next time you’re sipping on that mocha latte and eyeing the latest gadget or fashion accessory, maybe take a moment. Is it the caffeine doing the talking, or do you genuinely want it? Either way, now you’re armed with some fun facts to share at your next coffee meet! Happy (and informed) shopping!

Written by
Selena Reeves

Selena Reeves is a dynamic and multilingual journalist hailing from Spain, with a decade of experience covering international startup ecosystems. Her ability to uncover compelling stories and present them with a global perspective has made her a sought-after voice in the entrepreneurial world. Selena's contributions are enriched by her background as a startup consultant and her Master's Degree in International Business. Based in Madrid, Selena brings her global perspective and deep understanding of European startup trends to our readers.

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