Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Trying Too Hard to Track Spending Counterproductive for Grocery Shoppers

14.12.2009
During economic downturns, staying within budget at the grocery store may be more important than ever for many shoppers, especially those with low incomes. But a new study shows that the harder shoppers try to accurately calculate the total value of items placed in their carts, the worse they do at mentally keeping track.

"When shopping in a grocery store, the chaotic, information-rich environment can tax a shopper's ability to mentally calculate the total basket price," says Koert van Ittersum, assistant professor of marketing at Georgia Tech College of Management. "Executing many arithmetic operations with multi-digit pricing is demanding. Our findings show that shoppers tend to be more accurate when they employ short-cut strategies in their calculations."

Titled "Trying Hard and Doing Worse: How Grocery Shoppers Track In-store Spending," the study was conducted by van Ittersum in collaboration with marketing scholars Joost M.E. Pennings of Maastricht University and Brian Wansink of Cornell University. The paper has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Marketing.

Examining the behavior of shoppers in both a high-income and low-income grocery store, the researchers learned that strategies employed by consumers to keep mental computation simpler include rounding prices up or down, combining compatible prices (for example, $1.19 + $0.82 is almost $2), and multiplying an estimated average price by the number of items in their basket. These short cuts tend to work better than trying to calculate the total sum down to the last penny.

According to the study, 84.6 percent of shoppers "at least sometimes" keep track of how much they are spending at the grocery store.

And on average, they underestimate their total basket prices. "Our results show that shoppers on tight budgets, those most motivated to be accurate, may also be most at risk for spending more than their budget," van Ittersum says.

While motivation to be accurate seems to have a counterproductive effect on calculation accuracy because of the mental demands involved, shoppers with a lot of estimation experience tend to do better if they're highly motivated, according to the study.

Shoppers' success at effectively monitoring their spending has serious implications for retailers, note the study's researchers. "When shoppers must pay more than they expected, they tend to hold the retailers responsible and feel dissatisfied with the store," they write. "But when they pay less than expected, they attribute the benefit primarily to themselves and their store satisfaction remains neutral."

To improve customer satisfaction, retailers could help customers become more accurate estimators by informing them about effective computation strategies, the researchers suggest. "Retailers could also invest in the growing array of technical solutions that enable shoppers to track in-store spending accurately, including shopping cart scanners," van Ittersum says. "Shoppers could help themselves by sticking to shopping lists and using calculators."

Additional information:
http://mgt.gatech.edu/news_room/news/2009/articles/groceryspendingstudy.html

Brad Dixon | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Mathematical confirmation: Rewiring financial networks reduces systemic risk
22.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Frugal Innovations: when less is more
19.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>