Research from two University of Utah marketing professors found that eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and mashed potatoes makes consumers less likely to binge on impulse buying. So you may affect your shopping spree when you hit the stores this coming “Black Friday,” the traditional start of Christmas shopping which annually falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
We Are What We Eat
“Food consumption influences consumer impulsivity,” states Arul Mishra and Himanshu Mishra who show ways that types of food consumed during Thanksgiving can influence buying choices. Thanksgiving dinner can even affect whether or not consumers buy the sales the next day.
“Most people don’t connect what they eat with their subsequent buying choices,” says Arul Mishra. “However, our research shows that types of food, such as turkey, make people behave less impulsively. Such people are less likely to buy products available at a discount and will find it easier to restrain their impulsive urges and choices.”
In other words, if you’re looking to spend less holiday shopping season, eat a good Thanksgiving meal.
Arul and Himanshu Mishra, wife and husband, both assistant professors of marketing at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, teach graduate and undergraduate courses on consumer behavior, advertising strategies and behavioral decision methods. Their new study has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Marketing Research.
Both researchers approached study participants between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on a Thanksgiving to ask if they would answer an online questionnaire. “We found that participants who had consumed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey displayed less willingness to buy deeply discounted products compared to those who did not consume a traditional dinner,” Himanshu Mishra said.
The combination of tryptophan-rich foods like turkey and carbohydrates like mashed potatoes increases levels of serotonin, a chemical produced in the brain that affects many functions in the central nervous system, including mood, appetite, sleep and some cognition.
Serotonin levels have been shown to correlate with impulsive behaviors. The researchers conclude that people who have increased levels of serotonin like people who recently ate a large Thanksgiving dinner, were less prone to impulsive purchases. Most meats, chicken, turkey or tofu contain the amino-acid tryptophan that synthesizes serotonin.
Making protein shakes that have high levels of serotonin was additionally found to reduce consumer impulse buying. “Given that people consume several types of protein drinks for breakfast, they should be made aware that such drinks can reduce their impulsive responding,” Himanshu Mishra said.
Both authors believe that if consumers are aware that serotonin derived from specific foods can reduce impulsive product choice, they could use this information to modify shopping behavior.
“Marketers and retailers will benefit by these findings because slowing impulsive customer buying can equate to less purchase returns,” Arul Mishra concluded. “Knowing that the type of food consumed by customers can influence their subsequent choice means that types of food may serve at shopping outlets where buyers are induced to become attuned to productive buying behaviors.
Of course one way to beat this is to have a nice turkey day then shop on live as places like Amazon this year so heavily laden with holiday cheer no matter what year-end festivity anyone celebrates.