The Psychology of Reusable Shopping Bags

Does grocery shopping with a reusable shopping bag make consumers choose different food items than those who opt for single use paper and plastic bags? Do they choose foods that are better quality and more eco-friendly?

Researchers at Harvard Business School analyzed two years worth of purchases at a large chain grocery store in California to determine whether consumer buying patterns were different for those who brought their own reusable bags and those that didn’t. They also conducted experiments through online surveys to further hone their findings.

Through their research, they discovered that people who bring their own reusable shopping bags are much more likely to select healthy and organic foods than other shoppers. They also found that consumers who brought their own bags and bought organic items were also inclined to reward themselves by purchasing more indulgent items, like ice cream, candy bars, cookies and potato chips, than those who didn’t.

There were also other factors that were considered such as whether the purchases were for families or if the store required bags because of regulations. In those instances the results were very similar between the groups for purchases. It is also important to note that the study focused on individuals who had set a plan to go grocery shopping. Dates and times were used to weed out the spontaneous and unplanned shopping trips, in which individuals would be less conscientious of their purchases.

The reward system trend did not apply to shoppers with large families. When shoppers bring their own bags, they plan their selections carefully, ensuring that they have enough room in their bags and that their families have plenty of healthy food at home.

With more and more cities banning single-use plastic bags, consumers can expect more studies on the subject of buying habits and reusable grocery bags. Those studies may also lead to stores redesigning their layouts to take advantage of the placement of organic foods and other eco-friendly food choices.

Make sure you have enough reusable bags to carry your entire purchase home. Check out the many reusable shopping bag styles and options available on the Custom Grocery Bag website.

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