Why Do People Impulse Buy?

Why Do People Impulse Buy?

The majority of people impulse buy at some point and many people do it frequently. Indeed, it’s reckoned that 62% of Australian shoppers will impulse buy at some time; despite two-thirds of people browsing on e-commerce sites without intending to buy anything, 77% of them still end up doing so.

It’s obvious that impulse buying opens up a big opportunity for retailers. Understanding why people buy on impulse means you’re more likely to be able to take advantage of the opportunity and maximise your sales!

Reasons for Impulse Buying

Studies have found that people impulse buy for a variety of reasons that include:

  • as a special treat or reward for something they’ve achieved
  • to lighten the mood at times of stress or to improve their state of mind
  • pride in obtaining something they wouldn’t normally buy or be able to afford
  • fear of missing out on a time-limited offer or if something is scarce or being discontinued
  • the pleasure of achieving a good deal through a discounted offer or a special price.

Impulse buying is influenced by psychological impulses and the characteristics of individuals. Whilst a lot of it can be a lack of self-control, the motives for doing it are much more complex than that.

Women and men will tend to buy different products on impulse while younger people are more likely to impulse buy since older ones may be more in control of their emotions and will act more responsibly. They are all, however, influenced by certain things:

  • a price that is lower than normal due to sales promotions or discount deals
  • good marketing communications that promote desirable aspects of specific products
  • store and display layouts that make products appear attractive.

Taking Advantage of Impulse Buying Tendencies

Although you can’t anticipate buyers’ changing moods and their individual circumstances, you can benefit from a knowledge of why they impulse buy. You should try to get to know your customers and what they buy through a combination of market research, sales analysis and social media activity. Having done that, you can set your marketing strategy accordingly by:

  • creating a store layout that is welcoming and will encourage shoppers to move close to promoted items
  • in particular, putting items that are likely to be impulse bought close to the checkout area where people will see them as they queue
  • promoting special price deals as time-limited offers so that buyers can see the value of the deal and have to act quickly or miss their chance
  • providing a simple message that focuses on the benefits of the product and the customers’ desires, such as its prestige value rather than more fundamental features
  • using various media, including traditional advertising but also social media channels, to deliver and emphasise the message
  • focusing on products that are popular in certain areas and also promoting ones that are complementary to those being bought.

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One of the main things you must do is ensure customers don’t regret buying on impulse since this will likely make them think twice before doing it again and consequently creating the risk of lost sales in the long term. You must, therefore, make sure that products are not only a good price but are also of high quality and useful, and easy to return if there’s a change of mind. That will encourage impulse buyers to repeat the process in the future.

Impulse buying may appear to be something that results from emotions and the impulsiveness of individuals, which are difficult or impossible to predict. But there are solid reasons for it and, if you act on them, you can target and encourage people who are receptive and will reap the rewards through increased sales figures.