Using data from a large-scale field study, we show that (perceptions of) crowding change(s) the composition of a consumer's shopping basket. Specifically, as shoppers experience more crowding, their shopping basket contains (a) relatively more affect-rich (“hedonic”) products, and (b) relatively more national brands. We offer a plausible dual-process explanation for this phenomenon: Crowding induced distraction limits cognitive capacity, increasing the relative impact of affective responses in purchase decisions. As we are the first to show that level of crowding relates to what shoppers buy (at both product and brand level), the implications of these effects for retailers are discussed.
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