Impulse Buying Meaning, Importance, Factors & Example

Published by MBA Skool Team, Last Updated: September 27, 2021

What is Impulse Buying?

Impulse buying is a buying situation in which the customer makes a spur-of-the-moment purchase and the decision to buy a product is made just a moment before the purchase is done without any pre-planning or process. Impulse buying happens because of an emotional or psychological trigger which entices a customer to make a spontaneous purchase to fulfill an urge. The customer does not do any research or planning before buying and simply buys the product which did not intend to buy in the first place.

Emotions often play a decisive role in impulse buying and is encouraged by a well-designed promotional messages. Impulse purchases are not just confined to small ticket items like chocolates but also includes costly items like clothing and fashion accessories. You may have often seen the billing counter in supermarkets have a number of showcases adjacent to it containing chocolates, soft toys and stationary items. This is often to encourage impulse buying as the consumer might want to buy one last item before exiting the supermarket. Such products are also often referred to as impulse goods. In many cases, customers regret their decision to buy a product spontaneously.


Importance of Impulse Buying

As a buying situation, impulse buying is very important for marketers. Sometimes customers can see a product and make an immediate decision to buy it without a lot of decisioning process. If a particular product is not there at that time, it loses the opportunity of sale. Mostly things like gums, chocolates are such items associated with this situation so the CPG companies often try to position their products and messages in a way that the customer can see them and make a decision.

There are many factors which can influence impulse buying hence the companies need to plan the message, SKU, price everything properly so that the buying process should be as smooth as possible for the customer. Imagine a customer is about to buy a pack of chocolates but then on seeing the high price, customer would immediately drop the idea of buying it. Another similar situation can be on seeing the pack, the quantity may seem too high. In both the situations, decisioning process sets in quickly so the products need to be properly planned for impulse purchase to happen.


Factors influencing impulse buying

There are several factors which trigger an impulsive purchase from a customer. Some of the key reasons why impulse buying happens are listed below:

1. Placement of products

Stores often place products which induce the customer to simply buy the product instantly. For example if a person wants to buy a toothbrush, and sees a toothpaste next to it, they end up buying the toothpaste as well. This process is also called as impulse intercept merchandise, where a customer is intercepted by a product and they end up buying it.

2. Attractive displays

Window displays, in-store decoration, boards & signs often lead people into impulse buying as they feel attracted to the product at that moment

3. Purchasing capacity & mode of payment

A person with a high income is more likely to make an impulsive purchase as compared to person with a limited salary.

Also, people who carry debut and credit cards are more likely to make a quick purchase as they need not worry about the amount of cash they are carrying.

4. Affinity towards a brand

If a customer has a soft corner for a brand, they tend to be more attracted towards it and end up buying it. This is more related to the brand loyalty that a customer has towards a particular brand or a company product

5. Impulsive buying behavior

Some customers have a behavior where they tend to make purchases in the moment without too much thinking. They make the decision to buy immediately as they feel an urgent requirement for the same.

6. Human Emotions

Many times human emotions like happiness, anger, loneliness trigger an impulsive buying decision. e.g. if a person is lonely they buy an audio CD of sad songs.

Thus, the above mentioned points summarize a few factors which influence impulsive buying.


Examples of impulse buying

Buying a product without too much thought of without planning in advance can happen very often. A few examples of impulse buying are:

1. If you are at a restaurant when you are hungry, you go there to buy food or a meal. However, once you are placing an order, you see your favorite beverage brand being served to another customer. Hence you end up buying that beverage too.

2. A husband is visiting a multi-brand store with his wife. While the wife is busy shopping, he suddenly sees a t-shirt of his favorite color and brand. Despite the fact he has no immediate need for a t-shirt, he buys it as a part of his impulse buying behavior.

Hence, this concludes the definition of Impulse Buying along with its overview.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

Browse the definition and meaning of more similar terms. The Management Dictionary covers over 2000 business concepts from 5 categories.

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