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The Cornell Food & Brand Lab

Grocery Shopping Psychology

Grocery Shopping Psychology

Do grocery stores manipulate us, or are we our own worst enemy? These original findings show some of the secrets as to why we overbuy and how to better control ourselves.

Is Meat Male? A Quantitative Multimethod Framework to Establish Metaphoric Relationships
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Is there a gender dimension to the act of eating a particular food or food group? This study was conducted to explore if consuming meat was associated with maleness, not only in the United States, but across Western cultures..

'Is This a Meal or Snack?' Situational Cues that Drive Perceptions
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How do people determine whether an eating occasion— such as an afternoon reception or a visiting a fast food drive–through —qualifies as a meal or a snack? Their calorie–relevant answers influence not only what and how much they eat, but whether they decide to eat again later that day.

Trying Harder and Doing Worse: How Grocery Shoppers Track In–Store Spending
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Trying harder, but doing worse? We conducted two field and two laboratory studies to examine whether, when, and how grocery shoppers estimate their spending.

How Biased Household Inventory Estimates Distort Shopping and Storage Decisions
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How do consumers come up with household inventory estimates? Upon developing a model, we go on to show that estimates of the level of product inventory in a household, rather than the actual inventory levels, dictate purchase patterns and decisions.

"'Best if Used By...' How Freshness Dating Influences Food Acceptance"
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Concerns with food safety have lead to expiration dating on foods. We found that freshness dating (i.e., "best if used by") impacts consumers' attitudes on the acceptance and perceived healthiness of a food, but not on its perceived freshness or safety.

Consumer Reactions to Food Safety Crises
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What happens when we believe contamination, terrorism, or a genetic incidence threatens a part of the food supply? Sometimes such crises influence the recall, redesign, and communication efforts of individual companies; other times they threaten entire industries.

Channel Contract Behavior: The Role of Risk Attitudes, Risk Perceptions, and Channel Members' Market Structures
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How do risk perception and uncertainty affect market channel members' decisions? We find that the interaction between risk attitude and risk perception (IRAP) in combination with the channel members' market structure is a useful predictor of a channel member's contract behavior.

How Resourceful Consumers Identify New Uses for Old Products
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Why do consumers seek new uses for old products? How do they carry out this search and what types of people are they? This study suggests that resourceful consumers discover new uses for old products most commonly through their own ingenuity and desire for convenience.

Modeling Consumer Reactions to a Crisis: The Case of the Madcow Disease
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A study of the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands shows why people overreact to food crises and when this can be better controlled.

Abandoned Products and Consumer Waste: How Did That Get into the Pantry?
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12% of the groceries we buy go to waste.

A Benefit Congruency Framework of Sales Promotion Effectiveness
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What benefits do sales promotions provide for consumers? In this study the authors develop a framework of the multiple consumer benefits of a sales promotion and discuss the implications of these benefits and the benefit congruency frameworks for understanding consumer responses to sales promotions.

The Mystery of the Cabinet Castaway: Why We Buy Products We Never Use
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In–home pantry checks of 420 American households show that unused products were not bought because of sales, ads, coupons, or impulsivity. They were bought for recipes that were never made, or for special occasions that never occurred.

The Variety of an Assortment
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Disorganized grocery shelves look like they contain a wider variety of products. This causes some people to buy more, and others to buy less.

An Anchoring and Adjustment Model of Purchase Quantity Decisions
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Studies in 86 grocery stores show that signs with numbers in them (Limit 12 per/person; 3 for $3.00; Buy 6 for the weekend) can unknowingly double how many you buy.