Are retailers able to make more money by designing trolleys differently? One handlebar activates ‘negative triceps related to rejecting’, but the ‘wheelbarrow’ design targets positive’ biceps.

  • New research has shown that the trolley type you choose can have an impact on what you purchase.
  • Researchers believe it has to do with how the handlebar is designed. 
  • Horizontal trolleys that are standard activate the triceps. They can also be used to remove things from our lives.
  • The new handle design was activated for biceps use. This is connected to what we enjoy.  










According to research, supermarkets may be able to make shoppers spend more by changing the design of their shopping bags. 

A study, led by Bayes Business School, of London’s City University, looked into how using different styles of trolley can influence buying decisions.

Authors Professor Zachary Estes and Mathias Streicher tested traditional carts with a horizontal handlebar (as found in most supermarkets), against a new design with parallel handles (similar to those on a wheelbarrow), currently not used in major stores.

They found shoppers spent an average of 25 per cent more using the parallel handle trolley compared to a regular trolley. 

The key is the difference in the muscles that are activated while shopping, and their psychological associations. 

A study, led by Bayes Business School, of London's City University, looked into how using different styles of trolley can influence buying decisions. It found shoppers spent an average of 25 per cent more using the parallel handle trolley (pictured) compared to a regular trolley because it activates 'positive' biceps, instead of 'negative' triceps

Bayes Business School of London’s City University led a study that examined how the use of different trolley styles can affect buying decisions. It found shoppers spent an average of 25 per cent more using the parallel handle trolley (pictured) compared to a regular trolley because it activates ‘positive’ biceps, instead of ‘negative’ triceps

Traditional carts (above) activate the triceps muscle, at the back of the arm, which is associated with rejecting things we don't like (pushing or holding something away)

Traditional carts, as shown, activate the triceps muscle (at the back of your arm), which is associated to rejecting items (pushing or holding onto something).

Traditional carts stimulate the triceps muscle in the back of your arm. It is linked to rejecting what we don’t love (pushing or holding onto something).

However, activate the biceps in the front of your arm like the parallel handles. This is because it’s associated with items we love. They are activated by pulling or holding things near the body. 

Professor Estes, a Professor in Marketing at Bayes Business School, said the findings linking muscle use to spending could help shoppers control their festive budget.

He explained that shoppers can use their arms to grab items and reduce the time it takes to shop for gifts.

“If people want to reduce their spending, shopping carts can be a helpful and unexpected way to avoid unnecessary purchases.”

Study authors said it is 'shocking' to find that making a small change to the position of handles can have such a large impact on shoppers' spending. Pictured, the new trolley

The study’s authors stated that it’s shocking to discover how a minor change can have such an enormous impact on the shoppers’ purchasing habits. This is the new trolley. 

Professor Estes said is shoppers wish to minimise spending, standard shopping carts may act as 'a welcome and unexpected restraint to keep unnecessary purchases out of the cart'

According to Professor Estes, shoppers want to reduce their spending so standard shopping carts can be a welcome restraint that helps keep unneeded purchases from the cart.

The findings could also be used by retailers to sell more by providing customers with shopping carts with parallel handles.

The researchers found that leading manufacturers of shopping carts were shocked to discover how handles position can impact sales. They had never considered parallel handles before. 

‘It is shocking to find that making a small change to the position of handles can have such a large impact on shoppers’ spending,’ Professor Estes said.

“Indeed the handles actually cause us to shop more… but it seems that retailers have missed a trick to increase their sales.” 

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