Blame it on Genetics

Rutgers‒Camden researcher says shopping for bargains may be hereditary

Dec. 2, 2021

By Jeanne Leong

Ever feel like you were born to shop? Turns out that you might be on to something.

While many people may seek out bargains from time to time, others – known as “deal-prone” by researchers – spend a significant amount of time checking ads and websites to find the best deals.

These deal-prone shoppers, says Rutgers University‒Camden marketing expert Robert Schindler, can blame it on their genetics.

The marketing professor and fellow researchers studied 121 twin pairs from Rutgers University’s New Brunswick location and found that bargain-hunting traits tend to run in the family.

In the study, researchers found that identical twins are more similar in deal proneness than are same-gender fraternal twins.

“This tells us that biological genetic factors play a role in causing deal-proneness,” says Schindler, the lead author of the study, “Born to Shop? A Genetic Component of Deal Proneness,” published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.

Even if parents aren’t teaching their children to look for bargains, Schindler says, sometimes children grow up watching their parents search for deals and mirror that behavior when they become adults.

Finding a good deal is empowering, and gives the smart shopper bragging rights, posits Schindler.

“Money is sacred in American society,” Schindler explains. “If the societal importance of money is so great, it’s not surprising that it feels really good to have the sense that you are smart enough to have saved some money.”

He further notes that some bargain hunters are so enthusiastic about getting bargains that they buy more items than they need, and end up spending more money than they planned.

“When you start to feel smart and important when you save money,” says Schindler, “it’s easy to see how someone could get carried away and end up doing whatever it takes to get these good feelings.”

To avoid buying too much to take advantage of a good deal, Schindler suggests being more mindful of what you really want. Make a list, he says, and stick to it.

“If you see something on your list that’s on sale, then great, snag it,” says Schindler. “Become more aware of what you really want to buy to avoid being manipulated by sellers offering bargains.”

Posted in: Research Highlights

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