Scoring deals at the supermarket, the new porn?

young woman leaping with excitementIf scoring a great deal at the grocery store makes your heart race, you're not alone. According to preliminary research conducted at the University of Westminster's business school in the U.K., it's not only shopaholics who get a thrill from bargain hunting.

UK-based publication, The Grocer, reported on the findings assessing, "Well-pitched promotional marketing can cause as much excitement as looking at pornography." So much for innocently clipping coupons. Perhaps we should look at our addiction to Groupon and the Grocery Game a little more closely ...

Commissioned by The Institute of Promotional Marketing, the study used iMotion technology to test the emotional responses of 50 volunteers. The focus group was asked to participate in activities such as shopping, watching an erotic film and looking at merchandise with and without promotional offers. Eye movement and pupil dilation, indicating emotional response, were measured on a scale of one to ten. In the article, Finding a Bargain Feels as Good as Sex, the Telegraph reported, "A high of 10 is equivalent to severe trauma which is rarely seen and could be dangerous. But a score of between five and seven is the kind of excitement a body has to erotic images such as pornography."

Turns out, bargains on Marmite (a yeast spread very popular on buttered toast, in the U.K., at least), as well as for Cravendale milk and a free Wallace & Gromit gift with purchase of Kingsmill bread scored just as high. A promotion for a free audio book with the Marmite registered 5.8 on the iMotion scale, clearly an exciting offer.

On our side of the pond, would Americans react the same way to a sweet deal on peanut butter? The answer may be, yes! Yes! YES!!

However, the final verdict is still out as researchers delve more deeply into our mysterious consumer psyches. Colin Harper, the Institute's head of insight, told the Telegraph, "It's early days but these results indicate a correlation between high emotional response and sales uplift."

Although discovering consumers can get the same rush from a bodacious value-added promotion as they do from sex is admittedly, well, interesting, Harper insists there was a serious objective behind the study.

"The really vital message is the way on-pack promotions drive consumer interest and therefore demand," he said in an interview on the Institute of Promotional Marketing website. "The findings are more about long-term relationships than short-term sexual thrills, and why such ongoing relationships should be vitally important to users of promotional marketing." Uh-huh.

Right. So, are we just easy if we want to linger a bit longer on those grocery store circulars? If we clip coupons late into the night, will we still be respected in the check out line? Or will the cashier now look at us with a knowing smirk and a wink. Oh, yeah. Way to go.

Sort of gives new meaning to the phrase, cheap thrills.


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