How to Use Impulse Buying Behavior to Boost Your Bottom Line

Updated: September 06, 2010

Promoting impulse buying behaviour

The business implications are fairly obvious. If businesses wish to promote impulse buying, they should create an environment where consumers can be relieved of their negative perceptions of impulse. Businesses should stress the relative rationality of impulse buying in their advertising efforts. Similarly, they should stress the non-economic rewards of impulse buying.

Additionally, businesses can make the environment more complex, further straining consumers' abilities to process information accurately. Such techniques as stocking more merchandise, creating stimulating atmospherics, and increasing information may be useful to stimulate impulse buying. Businesses have to make impulse purchasing more risk-free, through convenient return policies, or increase enablers such as credit and store hours. Importantly, this model also offers options for consumers to control their buying impulses, if they choose to, or feel better about their impulse buying, by relieving their negative evaluations of impulse.

How to promote impulsive buying

  • Emphasise needs versus wants
  • Highlight that it will not impact on their shopping budgets over time
  • Create a store environment which dazzles them and where they loose control
  • Provide flexible payment methods. Some people have less cash in your wallet and sometimes leave credit cards at home
  • Avoid making the customer wait 24 hours before making an unplanned purchase
  • Demonstrate that this deal/offer will not last tomorrow before they realize that such deals occur on a regular basis
  • Stress on the emotional aspect of owning the product.


Good amount of effort should be put into messages which should make consumers recognize that buying on impulse is not bad. Once consumers recognize that products are more than commodities and that they are buying to please their desires, they will feel more comfortable with the impulse buying decision.

Some well known things about impulse buying

Traditionally impulse buying is defined as "Unplanned buying refers to all purchases made without such advance planning and includes impulse buying, which is distinguished by the relative speed with which buying "decisions" occur. Impulse buying occurs when a consumer experiences a sudden, often powerful and persistent urge to buy something immediately. The impulse to buy is hedonically complex and may stimulate emotional conflict. Also, impulse buying is prone to occur with diminished regard for its consequences."

Why people buy impulsively?

  • Some say that it acts as a stress reliever
  • Perceive it as the best buy of that time
  • People are captivated as an audience
  • Consumers have extra money in their budget


These are some of the characteristics of impulsive buying

  • Unplanned, Spontaneous and intense urge to buy the purchaser often ignoring the consequences
  • Without much prior knowledge of the product or intension to buy
  • A kind of emotional and irrational purchase often for reasons like fun, fantasy and social and economic pleasure
  • Consumer often regret their purchase after purchasing


Internal factors affecting impulsive buying

  • Depends on the mood of the individual, positive mood triggers impulsive buying
  • Impulsive buying is more a need than a want
  • Potential entertainment and emotional worth of shopping
  • Cognitive/affective


External factors affecting impulsive buying

  • Windows display
  • Visual merchandising
  • In-store form display
  • Promotional signage
  • Word of mouth messages
  • E-commerce


Impact of impulsive buying on the consumer

  • Disturbs the overall financial budget
  • Often gives product dissatisfaction and less alternatives are considered
  • People who go for impulsive buying often have post purchase regret
  • Irrational decision making being more emotional
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