The Impact of Purchases With Debit Cards on the Consumption of Unhealthy Food

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Master’s Student of Marketing Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Professor, Faculty of Management and Accounting, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

3 Associate Professor in Economics, Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

4 Master’s Holder, Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

5 Undergraduate Student of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Zahedan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Zahedan, Iran


The present study aimed to determine whether consumers are more likely to buy unhealthy food items when paying with debit cards compared to the time when they pay in cash, analyzing the effects of payment methods on the impulsive purchase of unhealthy products. To this end, the purchase behavior of a sample of 760 consumers was analyzed via a preliminary study and three main studies. To collect the data, consumer invoices, questionnaires, and purchase simulation techniques were used. The findings indicated that even though the participants who were randomly placed in the debit card payment group were aware of the unhealthiness of the food products, they still purchased such products, clearly showing their impulsive behavior. In cash purchases, the number of unhealthy food items in the shopping basket of consumers proved to be lower compared to when the consumers paid with debit cards. Furthermore, paying with debit cards reduced the pain of paying, ultimately raising the purchase of unhealthy food items.


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