Washington D.C: Better not to talk over phone while shopping as shoppers engaged in a mobile phone conversation while trying to shop are less successful at the shopping task, says a study.
In "When and How Multitasking Impacts Consumer Shopping Decisions," Professors A. Selin Atalay, explored how multitasking affects shopping task performance, that is, a consumer`s ability to accomplish their shopping plans.
The authors set up shopping scenarios that controlled for the distraction of multitasking and for the mindset of the participants. In one study, participants were asked to purchase low-calorie snacks for a get-together. They were asked to imagine that they were shopping to buy three different snacks to share with a friend with whom they were travelling.
They were told that both they and the friend were on a diet, and did not want to consume more than 500 calories on snacks per day. Thus, they needed to choose snacks that totalled 500 calories or less. Plus, they were on a tight budget. Some were asked to listen to a voicemail message from a friend at the same time as they completed the assigned shopping task.
The authors made certain to determine whether the participants in each situation were in a deliberative, or "why," mindset versus an implementing, or "how," mindset, because the former requires more cognitive resources while the latter are more intent on completing the task. Their results showed that while the more determined "how" shoppers were minimally affected by multitasking, the performance of the "why" mindset shoppers suffered, with their purchases tending to exceed the caloric limit imposed.
The authors suggest that multitasking for those in the "why" mindset may lead to faster, less careful decisions in this case, resulting in higher total calories of the snacks chosen. They attribute this effect to a degree of mental stress induced by the distraction of multitasking.
The managerial implication for retailers, they conclude, is that, given the prevalence of multitasking, retailers should consider ways to reduce stress in the shopping environment.
The study has been published in journal of retailing at New York Unversity.