Why is impulse buying so common and why does it matter for Retail

Shopping is much more than a simple chore nowadays. People love to come to the store for the experience, not just to buy products because products can be found anywhere. Yet, there is a difference between planning to shop for the whole week or going to the store at the spur of the moment. 

In this article, we are going to talk about impulse buying. It is something that most people do once in a while and some do it every time they shop. Also, we are going to talk about internal and external factors that trigger impulse buying, and why this matters for the Retail and the CPG industry

But first, let’s start by explaining what impulse buying is and see how common it is. 

What is Impulse buying?

It is much more common than you might believe. Impulse buying has turned into a habit. Even before we leave the house to go to the store we already know that we won’t be able to buy just the products from our grocery list. 

Impulse buying is the act of purchasing products that we haven’t planned to buy. Also, impulse purchases are made without taking into account finances. This is why most shoppers tend to buy small, cheap, or discounted products impulsively. 

More than 87% of Americans make impulse buys regularly and 50% of those buys are groceries. 

What makes us buy impulsively?

There are two types of factors that impact our shopping behavior: internal and external factors. 

When it comes to internal factors, we tend to buy impulsively because of: 

Our traits: How does our personality influence impulsive buying?

Yes, some shoppers are more likely to buy products impulsively, without taking into account their finances. For example, people who are sensation seekers are more likely to buy impulsively very often. They feel the need to experience something new and interesting and a small purchase can compensate for that. 

Also, impulse buying has something to do with our self-identity. Not all people shop for a bag of chips impulsively, some people tend to make large purchases like designer watches or motorcycles. Customers buy these products impulsively because they believe that others will treat or perceive them differently.

Norms and beliefs: How do culture and society influence impulse buying?

Our norms and beliefs might be another reason for which we buy impulsively. When we go shopping we release dopamine and this is one of the hormones that is associated with pleasure and satisfaction. When we also make a purchase, we release even more dopamine. 

All people seek pleasure and want to avoid pain. In our minds, an impulse buy could help us increase the level of pleasure or simply avoid negative feelings. Shoppers could also purchase products impulsively that they believe would help them avoid negative feelings. For instance, candies and chocolates are some of the most common impulse purchases because our brain loves sweets.

Demographics and resources: How do our age and finances influence impulse buying?

As you might expect, our resources can be a trigger for impulse buying. For example, when we have good finances and we receive extra money we are more likely to buy impulsively. Also, when it comes to demographics, people who live in urban areas are inclined to impulse buying. The older generation has more self-control and that’s why they are less likely to buy impulsively.

When it comes to external, market-related factors here are a few we’d like to highlight:

Price cuts: How do price promotions influence impulse buying?

One of the things that trigger impulsive buying is pricing, especially in smaller stores. When customers see a discounted product they are more inclined to buy it. Why? It gives a sense of urgency and most people suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out).

POSM & Display: How does in-store advertising influence impulse purchases?

However, in bigger retail chain stores shoppers don’t keep an eye on the price. They are more likely to buy impulsively due to the product display. The way products are displayed in the store can impact our shopping decisions. 

A brand activation solution like Tokinomo makes the products much more visible to the customers and encourages them to buy more. Read more about product visibility in this blog post.

Store ambiance: Why does the store matter for impulse buying?

Another thing that retailers should keep in mind if they want to encourage impulse purchases is the store ambiance. If it is a pleasant location people are more likely to purchase more products, even more than what they came in for.

Tips and tricks to encourage impulse buying in-store

Now that we know more about impulse buying, let’s take a look at some ways in which retailers encourage impulse shopping in stores. 

Place impulse buy items at the checkout counter

Small, cheap products are usually impulse buys. Candies, soda cans, and gum are some of the most common impulse buys in grocery stores. Depending on the type of store, think about products that can be purchased without spending a lot of money. Also, those products can be complementary. For example, if you sell shoes, socks can be placed near the checkout. 

Place impulse buys near your best-selling products

Another tactic that can help you encourage impulse buying is to place impulse buys near best-selling products. Of course, it’s best to use products that work well with one another. For example, at the wine section, you can place a bottle opener or decanter near your best-selling wine. 

Communicate urgency

When you have a special offer, promotion, or discount, communicate the urgency to your customers. FOMO marketing can help you show shoppers that they can enjoy that price now and not in the future. 

Make customers notice impulse buy items

If shoppers don’t notice the products, find a way to draw attention, make your products visible and stand out at the shelf. A robotic POP display like Tokinomo can help you attract attention and increase sales on average, across categories, by 200% without any price cuts. 

Seasonality is important

Always take into account seasonality when arranging products. If Halloween or Christmas is coming, then you better have some products for these holidays. Customers will buy seasonal products impulsively because they want to follow the trend. 

Impulse buying is a common thing all shoppers do from time to time. Our brain is wired in a way that encourages us to buy more than we need or different products than the ones we planned to buy. If you want to encourage impulse buying, then you should always think about what your customers want and need and the story behind the urge to buy impulsively.

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