Researchers at Friedrichshafen University say eating sweet things makes people more willing to spend money on shopping, after looking at chemical reactions in the body and brain - and their relation to behaviour.
Marketing researcher Peter Kenning said they were able to alter how people perceived and evaluated prices by giving them sugar.
“In our study we were able examine a chain of events sparked by the ingestion of glucose, which shortly afterwards exerts an effect in a particular part of the brain,” he told Die Welt newspaper.
The glucose – sugar – leads to the production of insulin, which stimulates the production of tryptophan, which makes the brain produce the hormone serotonin – the so-called happy chemical.
A group of people were given a glass of sugar water containing 80 grammes of sugar – the recommended daily allowance. They were then asked to say whether they felt the prices of a number of everyday shopping items were fair – and if they said no, were asked to name what they felt would be a fair price.
Two more groups were given water, or nothing at all and asked the same questions.
The results showed those who had the sugar drink were significantly more likely to rate the prices shown as fair – and if not, made higher price suggestions than the control groups.
“It was clear to see that the test group evaluated the product prices differently from the other two groups. We were a little surprised to be able to prove our theory with such a strong effect,” Kenning said.
But he said supermarkets which might decide to offer shoppers a chocolate bar for free at the door might be wasting their time. “I would not go so far as that at the moment. The research into the exact mechanism will keep us busy for a little while yet.”