Shopping

Kids make grocery shopping more impulsive, per study

A new study from the University of Florida shows that impulsive grocery buyers may be swayed by the people around them, including children and parents. The new study shows why people buy items they don’t necessarily need and how grocery stores can market their products more effectively.

Previous research has shown that the most important people in our lives influence impulse-buying at grocery stores. The new University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Studies research ranks the importance of groups of people, with parents and children coming out in the lead. They carry more weight than spouses, significant others and close friends.


“If a person is surrounded by others while shopping and receives purchasing suggestions, they are more likely to act on those suggestions and increase their expenditure,” Zhifeng Gao, a UF/IFAS professor of food and resource economics, said in a statement.

Gao also said that products marketed for married couples and households with children would benefit from appealing to kids since shoppers respond better to children’s shopping suggestions.

Using an internet survey of 791 people across the country, Gao and his research colleagues found that males are more likely to buy impulsively based on suggestions from their parents and colleagues and are less likely to buy an impulse purchase based on suggestions from children and significant others. 

“Knowing that female shoppers are more likely to be influenced by their children and close friends, while male shoppers are more likely to be affected by their parents and colleagues provides valuable insights on utilizing marketing campaigns for products intended for each gender,” Gao said.

This new research shows why people may buy items based on sudden urges. 

“This can help us process different purchasing suggestions more objectively because they come from different types of shopping companions,” Gao said. “This will enable consumers to evaluate different purchasing decisions better, therefore only making reasonable purchases based on needs.”

It also gives grocery stores and marketers information for advertising products to more impulsive buyers and allow them to focus on strategies that encourage family shopping or going to the store with close friends. 

Co-authors on the study are Bachir Kassas, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, and Xuqi Chen, an assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of Tennessee.