Impulse Purchase: How It Affects Consumers

This study examines the factors that contribute to an impulse purchasing behavior in the following marketing stimuli – price, promotion, service and environment. 53 participants (24 men, 29 women, Mean 30) of ranging ages were recruited through convenience and snowball sampling. An academic survey conducted using a questionnaire that consisted of 11 yes-no items, 2 open-ended items and 10 items utilising a 4-piece Likert scale. We predict that the results will broaden the subject of impulse purchase and support the existing body of knowledge. The purpose of this study is to find the association between marketing stimuli the impulse purchase.

Impulse purchase: How It Affects Consumers

An estimated $4.2 billion in annual store volume was generated from impulse purchases (Mogelonsky, 1998). A study done by Daily Mail in 2011 over a poll of 2000 consumers showed that an average adult spends approximately $108,232 on impulse over their lifetime. Generally, no one is left out from experiencing impulse purchasing in a typical adult lifetime but there is a need to find out the characteristics of this consumer behavior. This literature review will focus on these factors to gather insight on the marketing stimuli and environment involved in impulse purchase behavior.

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Consumers’ emotional states and behavior have been thought to be closely related to the behavior of impulse purchase (Rook ; Gardner, 1993). According to Zimmerman (2012), impulse purchasers are more social, status-conscious and are high self monitors. Purchasing items makes them look good in the eyes of others. They are known to buy on impulse in good and bad moods, experiencing such behavior as a method of managing their mood states or conditions. Impulse purchasing also makes them feel good spontaneously purchasing something that has great worth to them and it leaves a greater impression in their memories (Graves, 2013). According to Giraud (2001), consumers in good mood reward themselves by shopping, more items than average. Others see shopping as a joy and a form of recreation (Sharma ; Sivakumaran, 2004).

Impulse purchase is defined as the ‘unplanned buying behavior of consumers’ (Kollat ; Willet, 1967). ‘Unplanned’ in this context does not mean without plan but refers to a process that requires cognitive processes that are little to none, that is to say that not all impulse purchase decisions are made irrationally. Impulse purchase happens as a reaction in a moment that is triggered by extrinsic factors when there is no purpose or intent to purchase such commodities (Desarbo ; Edwards, 1996; Beatty ; Ferrell, 1998). Individuals usually experience the sudden urge to purchase an item(s) and are less likely to consider the consequences of purchasing them, not to forget impulse purchase is usually immediate.

The availability of economic resources is a facilitator in this process as it increases the purchasing power of an individual (Mai, Jung, Lantz ; Loeb, 2003). A study done by the University of Minnesota showed that 53.3% of consumers who purchase products on impulse are attracted to items on sale while 48.1% of them attracted to items on low prices (Youn ; Faber, 2000). Besides sales and discounts, low marginal need for such items, shorter product life, smaller size of product and the ease of storage also boosts attraction of consumers (Wong ; Zhou, 2003).

‘Non rational influence’ (NI) advertising are commonly utilized by advertiser and marketers in modern context. NI advertisements are used as stimuli to entice our conscious awareness by showing a fun, youthful, happy or even sexy scenes that might have nothing to do with the actual product itself. Studies have shown that consumers exercise less behavioral inhibition and restrain when faced with NI advertisements (Cook, Warren, Pajot, Schairer ; Leuchter, 2011). Some NI advertisements focus solely on love and sex which preys on consumer’s insecurities, implying that consumers would feel loved and have a higher self esteem when they purchase such products (Hartney, 2012).

Companies in the retail industry boost their sales with consumers who purchase on impulse. These retailers make use of strategies that make it easier for consumers to purchase on impulse (, n.d.). Holding sales with a time limit makes consumers think that the good deal would not last long, creating an impact psychologically. Retailers also place products on places that are easy to get to or captures consumers’ attention, making it easier and more likely for consumers to add that product that they do not need into their baskets. A study done in 2009 showed that products placed at the end of aisles or near cashiers account for 30% of all supermarket sales (Wilson, 2012).

According to Ford (2013) on-site factors such as background music, fragrance and the layout of the store has effects on the impulse purchase behavior. Crawford and Melewar’s (2003) study further reinforces that these environmental factors do stimulate impulse purchasing. It is apparent where the marketing and advertising departments of shops create environmental factors that induce and encourage impulse purchases.

To emphasize on Rook’s (Rook ; Gardner, 1993) study of the implications of technology on impulse purchase, retailers make use of technology such as Nets and Visa cards that allow consumers to purchase with a single tap. This makes it easier to purchase a product, minimizing the time for consumers to ponder and rationalize on their decision to purchase something that they do not need.

According to Mehrabian’s (1967) model of communication, we understand that 55% of information retained comes from what is communicated visually. Products that catch the attention of consumers are more likely to be bought on impulse. A study done by Wanninayake & Randiwela (2007) indicated that most of customers prioritize visual merchandising as first and second, as compared to price of goods and location of outlets.

According to Rook & Gardner’s (1993) studies, impulse purchase have been thought to be an affective factor where consumers buy as a way of coping with cognitive dissonance and emotional states. Hedonic and emotionally appealing products are more likely to be purchased on impulse as impulse buyers are often emotionally attracted to an impulse object (Dittmar, Beattie ; Friese, 1995 ; Rook, 1987). Rook (1987) reported accounts of participants going through emotional and behavioral elements of impulse purchase, feeling that the “ product ‘calling’ to them, almost demanding they purchase it”. We have come to hypothesize on the association of the impulse purchase behavior with different marketing stimuli in the context of Singapore. Method

Participants The academic survey was conducted with 53 participants (24 men, 29 women, Mean 30) who lived in Singapore. Participants were recruited on random. All participants were given an informed consent prior to the conduct of the academic survey. All participants participated voluntarily without any compensation needed. Measures

The survey is made up of a questionnaire of 11 yes-no items that measured different marketing stimuli involved in impulse purchase behavior. The questionnaire also consisted of 2 open-ended items and 10 items utilizing a 4-piece Likert scale. Removal of a neutral option was removed from the Likert scale to ensure a more sided option. Research Design

This study involves a cross-sectional design utilizing different stimuli where personal reasons, price, promotions, service and environmental factors were measured at the same point of time. Marketing stimuli being the independent variable and the impulse purchase behavior being the dependent variable, our hypothesis used these variables as a basis for the research. Procedure

Participants were recruited from family members and friends using convenience sampling. Snowball sampling was also used as a search for people who were aware of their impulse purchase behavior. The sampling methods were used to avoid complicities where the topic of impulse purchase might be seen as a private or sensitive matter. This also removed the need of compensation for participation. Participants were given an introduction, purpose and informed consent verbally and hardcopy prior to the participation of survey. Ethical guidelines have been read and ensured that research conducted did not cross unethical boundaries. Results

Participants were surveyed in accordance to marketing stimuli in the areas of personal, price, promotions, service and the environment. When surveyed on affective factors, we discovered that 37.7% of participants shopped when in a depressive mood and 67.9% of them experienced pleasure in shopping. 86.7% of participants succumbed to good service and aggressive up-selling. Environmental factors used in the questionnaire produced results where 52.8% of participants were influenced by the shop environment where 77.3% of them were attracted to enter shops with eye-catching display paired with popular music.

When it comes to sales, promotions and the price of products, 86% of participants were tempted to purchase products that were on sale on ongoing promotions, 77.3% of them admitted to purchasing on impulse while 73.5% regretted doing so. 88.6% of participants take into mind the price of products over the actual purchase even though the products are on sale or promotion. 88.6% of them also placed the quality of products over pricing. Discussion

The focus of the research was to study the association of impulse purchase behavior with different marketing stimuli in the context of Singapore. Limitations to our research might have hindered us from having a broader insight on the subject, a larger sample population for survey and strengthen the validity of our results. Lack of economic resources prevents us from collecting more primary data from a larger sample of population. Time constraint was also a huge limit in our research where lesser time constraints would have allowed us better mind-mapping and a start with better footing. Lastly, lack of manpower limits us from collecting data on a larger scale and gathering deeper insight on the existing body of knowledge.

There was an initial need to find out whether gender and job occupations played a part in the outcomes of the research. Gender was important due to the existence stigma in which women were more inclined to purchase on impulse due to the frequency of their shopping activities. Job occupation was also taken into consideration where salary, when paired with societal and workplace environment, might play a part in consumer behavior. However, we found that impulse purchase behavior affects almost all individuals regardless of objectivity, given the fact that men are just as susceptible to purchase on impulse as women. Results received were in support of our hypothesis and previous data collected by past researchers.

Looking at sales and promotions as a marketing stimuli has proven to be an influential and successful factor in contributing to consumer behavior. Majority of participants succumb to impulse purchase when faced with situations where products are on sale or the availability of a promotion. However, participants place quality over a product over its price. We feel that there is a small conflict in between these two factors. As impulse purchase is experienced as a sudden urge to purchase said product, there is little to none cognitive processes in which to ponder on the quality of the product.

Outside the factors that are surveyed, we received results that suggested the notion of affection indirectly linking to the impulse purchasing behavior. Supporting Graves’ (2013) study, a number of participants shop when they feel depressed and a number of others experience joy and pleasure in shopping.

When faced with service as a marketing stimuli, we found out that women were 32.5% less likely to purchase a product due to good service or when faced with aggressive up-selling than men. This gives us reason to ponder on the possibility that there are more cognitive processes involved in purchasing in women. Women might have more clarity and control over their purchases. On the other hand, to view this situation in a man’s point of view, there might be enough doubt as to why more men give in to aggressive up-selling or good service. There might be a trait in men where they experience an urge to avoid further discussion or interaction with said sales person. They might also be going through some form of cognitive dissonance at the point of time. Conclusion and Future Research

There is limited data on factors that contribute to affection in consumer behavior. There is a need to observe how an individual’s mood and emotional states affects decision making in purchasing. We also feel that there is a need to find out more on the cognitive processes of women and men in the process of impulse purchasing. These factors can be used as a focus for future researches.

From the above, characteristics of impulse purchasing have been explored in different marketing stimuli. Results received supported our hypothesis and provided a favourable outcome in widening the existing body of knowledge on impulse purchasing.