Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


The shadow over consumers


New research from the University of Alberta reveals just how self-conscious and easily influenced consumers can be.

Through a series of carefully controlled experiments at a campus bookstore, researchers learned that consumers will, in every case studied, spend more money to buy a brand name item when someone they don’t know is standing near them at the time they choose their purchase. Consumers also tend to spend more money when a group of people is standing near them but are more inclined to buy cheaper items when no one is near.

"We were shocked to find that the mere social presence of another shopper apparently has a huge affect on consumer behavior," said Dr. Jennifer Argo, a marketing professor in the U of A School of Business and lead author of the study, which is published in the September 2005 edition of the Journal of Consumer Research.

For her study, Argo hired students to go to a campus bookstore to purchase batteries, an item Argo terms "neutral" because no one will likely see you use it other than the time you buy it. The students were given a specific amount of money and told they could buy any brand of batteries they like and could keep the change. They were not told that their behavior was being monitored as a part of an experiment.

Argo also hired people to act as customers, and she placed them strategically around the store. Sometimes the consumers studied were alone in the store, other times one other person was near them in the batteries section, and sometimes there were groups of three people in the section. Elements of the experiment were videotaped, and the consumers studied also filled out surveys to describe their experience in the store. Conditions to set up the experiment were pre-arranged with the bookstore managers.

"The best situation for the store is one in which there is one other person standing close to a consumer," Argo said. "Consumers reported being most comfortable in this situation, and we saw them spending the most money in this state, as well."

"We found that high traffic around a consumer makes them anxious, but they also felt anxious when they were isolated, and we know that when a consumer is in a negative state of mind they tend to spend less money," Argo added.

Argo thinks the fact that consumers tend to spend more money when one other person is nearby may have something to do with consumers’ level of comfort and their wanting to avoid being perceived as cheap. As for applying the results of her research, Argo thinks store owners could increase their profits if they avoid layouts in which products are placed in isolated corners or areas of high traffic.

Ryan Smith | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>