Planning for Multiple Shopping Goals in the Marketplace

Planning for Multiple Shopping Goals in the Marketplace

By
Jacob Suher, Szu-chi Huang, Leonard Lee
Journal of Consumer Psychology (forthcoming). October
2019

Four online grocery-shopping experiments and one field study using video-tracking technology at a grocery store document how shoppers’ motivation evolves from the beginning to the end of their shopping trips. We uncover unique motivational patterns as shoppers achieve multiple subgoals (i.e., choose multiple grocery items) to complete their trips: a monotonic decrease in motivation for shoppers with a shopping list versus a curvilinear trend (i.e., decrease then increase) in motivation for shoppers without a list. In addition, we demonstrate how to reverse the observed patterns for shoppers with a list by changing their reference points for tracking progress. The discovery of the moderating role of shopping-list usage adds to the bubbling dialogue in goal pursuit and shopper psychology research concerning how consumer motivation follows either a monotonic trend (e.g., a goal gradient effect) or a nonmonotonic trend (e.g., the stuck-in-the-middle effect). Importantly, we demonstrate how the stuck-in-the-middle theory, which applies to single-goal pursuits, can apply more broadly to the domain of grocery shopping, which consists of the generation and completion of multiple subgoals.