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Shopping as a Couple: 👍 or 👎

Shopping is a social activity. When couples shop together, especially for joint consumption, they tend to buy more and spend more. This trend is especially applicable to vice products, particularly those without an “organic” label. Therefore, retailers and manufacturers of relevant goods and services can benefit by incorporating joint decision-making into their product, promotion, and sales strategies. They can modify targeting, promotions, loyalty programmes, and online shopping experiences to benefit from the joint decision-making by couples shopping together.



Shopping is just as much a social activity as it is a functional one, but the social aspect of shopping often goes unexplored by studies. And while it is important to understand

individual buyers, it is also important to understand what drives buyers when they shop with companions. For instance, when buyers shop for products meant for joint consumption as a couple, they also often tend to shop as a couple. In the absence of much research, retailers cannot determine if they benefit or not from couples shopping together. Therefore, a study explores the question: Should retailers encourage couples to shop together?


Shopping companions also matter in decision-making. To find how and why shopping companions are important, check this out!


The study found that romantic partners tend to purchase more and spend more on purchases when they shop as a couple. The number of items they buy and the amount they

spend when jointly shopping for joint consumption is three times higher than when they shop individually for joint consumption. The study also found that in this equation, the decision-making pattern is more important. Joint rather than individual decision-making has a greater impact on quantity and volume of purchase, whereas the impact of consumption type (joint or individual) is insignificant.



This behaviour is especially applicable to vice goods without an “organic” label. Vice goods

refer to products that people typically tend to over-consume during consumption and then regret later. These are goods that give short-term enjoyment but long-term negative consequences. Some common examples of vice goods are chips, soft drinks, chocolates, ice cream, or alcohol. When labelled “organic,” they are seen as less harmful because the term “organic” is associated with health.



This study has interesting implications for retailers. The foremost implication is that there is a need for a change in targeting strategy. Most targeted marketing and advertising, especially

through digital channels, focus on individual buyers. However, as the study clearly shows, joint decision-making about purchases is far more lucrative for retailers. Therefore, they can start targeting couples to maximise their sales and also incentivise them to shop together. For example, promotional communication could suggest that shopping together can be more enjoyable. Or there can be price promotions like “joint discounts” or discounts on buying “His n Hers” packages.



Retailers could also apply the study’s findings at an operational level in several ways. For

instance, instead of having individual loyalty programmes, they can have couples’ loyalty programmes or household-level loyalty programmes. Since these programmes help to capture shopping behaviour and encourage purchases, modifying them to accommodate joint decision-making will feed into couples’ tendency to purchase more when shopping together.


Are loyalty programmes really helpful in boosting sales? Read on to find out.


Online shopping platforms could benefit from joint shopping by modifying the shopping experience to incorporate multiple shoppers. They can move from an individual purchasing

mode and individual wishlists to one where couples can interact and add items to the same shopping cart or wishlist. This feature will allow couples to share the shopping experience despite not being physically in the same location. Currently, in similar circumstances, one partner buys for both, which is not as profitable as both buying together.



Finally, given the types of products (vice, usually consumed jointly, without “organic” label)

that benefit the most from joint shopping, relevant brands and industries (products and services that are naturally consumed jointly, e.g., vacations, high-end dining, or household appliances) can incorporate the joint shopping aspect into their products, promotions, and marketing strategy. By taking joint decision-making into account right from the get-go, they will be able to maximise the benefits they can obtain from couples shopping together.



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