Commuting can be a drag, but it can also be the perfect time to drink your first cup of joe from your motivational travel mug, catch up on email or zone out listening to your fave women-run podcasts. Apparently, it’s also a great time to open up those millennial shopping apps. According to a new study published in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science, jam-packed trains can actually TRIGGER you to buy more online.


The researchers partnered with a cell phone provider that sent targeted mobile ads to 15,000 riders who took the subway in a large city. They found that commuters on crowded subway trains are about TWICE as likely to respond to a mobile ad by making a purchase, when compared to those in non-crowded trains. “Crowdedness in public transportation, where commuters are often squeezed against strangers with little else to do, is annoying, and yet ironically an opportune moment for mobile ads,” researcher Xueming Luo of Temple University says in a press release.

And in case you’re wondering if the findings are tied to the timing of morning flash sales, the study also shows that these results stay true during varied times of the day and week, along with totally spontaneous circumstances that can cause packed trains, like delays.

The reason: Crowded subways cause people to turn inward, away from the crowds, and immerse themselves in their mobile phones. “Nowadays a smartphone is a good way to mentally escape from physically crowded environments,” researcher Michelle Andrews of Emory University explains. “As a result, people are more involved with their smartphones and may pay more attention to incoming mobile ads when they are in crowded areas.” So snapping up that perfect bag when riding to work on a crowded train? Totally not your fault.

Do you shop during your commute? Tweet us about the apps and sites you love to use @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)