Gum-chewers make more careful shoppers and stores should hand it out for free: study

Packages of Wrigley's-brand chewing gum are displayed in a grocery store June 30, 2005 in Park Ridge, Illinois. Tim Boyle/Getty Images

A new study suggests shoppers chewing gum may spend more time browsing, and stores could benefit by enticing customers with free gum samples.

Researchers from Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto wanted to see if the benefits of gum chewing – which they say include more thinking, increased attention and lower stress levels – applied in a retail environment.

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They conducted four studies where they asked 300 students in a lab at a U.S. university to perform a variety of shopping tasks, like spending $100 on Amazon to buy gifts for three people.

They found the students whose mouths were occupied with chewing spent more time coming up with more thoughts about their shopping experience and browsed a greater number of items than those without anything in their mouths.

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The researchers also surveyed 56 customers at a Toronto grocery store and found that the half of customers provided with a stick of gum spent more time in the store and purchased more items.

The disappointing news for stores, however, may be that the gum chewers did not spend more money at the grocery store than their non-chewing counterparts.

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