Impulse Shopping

We marketers love the impulse buyer, but the feeling isn’t always mutual. In most categories, retailers and manufacturers create point-of-purchase advertising that encourages the shopper to buy something that wasn’t on their mind or on their list when they entered the store. Many Americans are happy with this, but many others are not, but oblige anyway. So if you are in a category that relies on impulse purchase it would be important to understand the distinction between shoppers for whom such purchases are guilty pleasures and those who just feel guilty.

Certain types of retailers will see more impulse buyers than others. Things like clothing, toys and sports stores are more likely to see things bought on impulse as a guilty pleasure. So the cues that are given to shoppers need to help make them feel OK about buying on impulse.

In most categories, especially low-cost items such as a bar of chocolate, is often easily justified at the checkout. Those who often buy on impulse against their better judgment may resent retail advertising and store communication that encourages them to buy.

According to some Gfk Roper research from June 2006, sales are a good way to assuage those shoppers who feel guilty about buying on impulse. Everyone loves a bargain. But advertising (or most likely product placement to maximise unplanned purchases) that persuades people to buy things they don’t need or can’t afford also evokes some of the most negative feelings people have about advertising. So the need to address consumers’ mixed feelings is critical.