Yes, Kids Really Do Influence Impulse Buys

Study from University of Florida ranks impact of shopping companions
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Yes, Kids Really Do Influence Impulse Buys
A new study affirms that children's impulse suggestions hold more weight than other co-shoppers.

Building on previous market data – and the innate understanding – that shoppers are influenced by those who accompany them to the store, new research finds that parents and children hold the greatest sway over grocery impulse buys.

According to a recent study from the University of Florida (UF) and the Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (IFAS) published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, kids’ suggestions and implorations influence point-of-sale decisions more than spouses, significant others and close friends. The research also confirmed the often-held perception that female shoppers are more likely to be influenced by their children and close friends, while men’s impulse purchases tend to be impacted by their parents and colleagues.

The survey of nearly 800 consumers uncovered other variables that inspire impulse buys, such as the social distance between a shopper and a shopping companion. In addition, although individual factors like gender, income and age contribute to buying decisions, the magnitude of those factors is significantly impacted when a consumer is accompanied by someone else on a trip to the grocery store.  

Study co-author and UF/IFAS professor Zhifeng Gao says that the research has implications for grocers as they plan their merchandising programs. “Products marketed for married couples and households with children could significantly benefit from appealing to children since shoppers in these households are more likely to respond to their children’s shopping suggestions,” Gao remarked. “They (grocers) can also focus on strategies that encourage family shopping or shopping with close friends.”

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