Washington, July 20 : People make more impulsive purchases while talking on cellphones or dealing with an adamant child, says a new study, which suggests that consumers are more likely to make spontaneous purchases for one brand over another if they are distracted while shopping.
The study, which has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research, surveyed undergraduate college students by measuring their preference for a variety of soft drinks, including Coke and Pepsi.
In one experiment, participants were shown Coke and Pepsi paired with either positive words and images such as the word amazing or an image of a mother holding a child, and some negative such as the word terrifying or an image of exhaust coming from a car.
A second experiment presented participants with an unrelated cognitive task - memorizing an eight-digit number - then offered them a can of Coke or Pepsi.
Results of study found that implicit attitudes, or those that people may not be conscious of and able to verbally express, predicted product choice only when participants were presented with a cognitive task, suggesting that implicit product attitudes may play a greater role in product choice when the consumer is distracted or making an impulse purchase.
"The results of this research suggest that our intuitions and feelings about brands may lead us to choose them, particularly when we are distracted," said CMU psychology professor Bryan Gibson.
"So don't be surprised if a distraction at the grocery store leads to more impulse purchases," he added.