Is Your Name to Blame for Your Online Shopping Binges?


Retailers and researchers alike have a penchant for studying the psychology of shopping. Customer behavior informs everything from where clothes racks are placed to what logos are displayed and branding methods used.

This week, in a study that’s bound to be blogged, Tweeted, Tumbled and Facebooked to death, two business school professors found that people with last names that start with a letter towards the end of the alphabet are more inclined to jump on flash sales than people whose last names begin with a letter towards the front of the alphabet.

Gilt Groupe screenshot via CrunchBase

The Wall Street Journal explains, “The rationale is that those with last names at the end of the alphabet become trained as kids to compensate for being last. The Adams, Browns and Donaldsons of the world don’t need to rush since they’re already at the front of the queue. But the Wilsons, Youngs and Zwicks are constantly [at] the end of the line and will rush ahead, when given the chance.”

The phenomenon, dubbed “alphabetization,” affects us as children and, according to the study, persists into adulthood.

A quick survey of your HighLow editors revealed that those with last names in the latter half of the alphabet were indeed big fans of flash sales like Gilt — but the sample size is admittedly pretty small. So tell us — where do you fall in the alphabet, and what are your shopping habits? And do you give any credence to this new theory?

2 Responses to “Is Your Name to Blame for Your Online Shopping Binges?”

  1. Matt M

    Totally agree that there’s some psychology at work here. Us “middle of the alphabet-ers” never caught a break though. Occasionally teachers would recognize that the A-Z order always screwed over the kids at the end of the list, they would go in reverse Z-A order from time to time.

    Guess that’s the price paid for always getting adequate opportunities, maybe that’s why I always review daily deals but never race to purchase.


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