Definitions, types of Impulse buying and factors affecting impulse buying  

From the journal of consumer research (site the author), much of human activity is driven by impulses that are biochemically and psychologically stimulated. Impulse behaviour can occur in any setting and consumer impulse is an extensive context for it. Once triggered an impulse encourages for instant action to satisfy gratification. An impulse is not consciously planned, but arises immediately upon confrontation with a certain impulse (Wolman, 1973). Impulse buying is a sudden, compelling, hedonically complex purchase behaviour in which the speed of the impulse purchase decision precludes any thoughtful, deliberate consideration of alternatives or future implications (Kollat & Willet, 1967).

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According to (Kumar, S. 2007) Impulse buying refers to the purchases made when a consumer experiences a sudden, often powerful and persistent urge to buy something instantly without hesitation. It is often triggered by factors such as age, sex, and race to a varying extent. Impulse buying is not always viewed as negative as it represents a rational alternative to time-consuming search behaviours. According to Han et al. (1991), impulse buying was classified as four types. They are stated as follows:

·         Pure Impulse

·         Suggestion impulse,

·         Reminder impulse and

·         Planned impulse.

Today’s impulse buying is still widely discussed in terms of which products are and which products are not impulse items. We have new entries of impulse buying from digital marketing, whereby consumers can buy anything from internet by the click of a button. There are underlying factors that have influenced online impulse buying. According to Harvard Business Review, worldwide, digital retailing is probably toward 15% to 20% of total sales, though the proportion will vary significantly by sector. Digital retailing is highly lucrative now.

Impulse buying transitioned and is still transitioning from physical off-shelf items to on the couch buying behaviour. The generation that is mostly affiliated with online impulse buying is Millennials (Generation Y), born early 1980s to early 2000s. This generation has grown with an ever-evolving digital world. They are acquainted with online buying since its inception. Many organizations have adapted and are still adapting to the online consumer buying situation. They still maintain the traditional ways of marketing, but many of the ways have been replaced by the new trends of marketing which include digital platforms. There are a few factors that influence impulse buying. (the source)

They include:  

·         Gender and age

·         Situational factors

·         Psychological factors

·         Marketing mix,

·         Website quality

·         Visual merchandising

·         Direct email marketing

Impulse buying is a major research issue among consumer activities. Researchers not only because of its complexities but also its wide-spread prevalence across a broad range of product and service categories (Baumeister, 2002).

Another definition of Impulse buying is that it is unplanned, which is characterized by both relatively rapid administrative, and a subjective bias for immediate possession (Rook & Gardner, 1993). Impulse buying conduct is a sufficient unplanned boldness when it is associated with objective evaluation and emotional preferences in shopping offline or online. Impulse buying plays vital role in fulfilling desires associated with need for consumption (Hausman, 2000). Impulse buying is more emotional than rational, which is why it is normally used by conditions of an intense feeling. Consumer impulse buying is an important concept along with product involvement as they are involved with a specific product (Jones et al., 2003).

The purchase is unintended because it is made while shopping, although the individual was not actively looking for that item, he or she had no pre-shopping plans to buy the item, and was not involved with a shopping task, such as searching for a gift. Unintended buying arises from an immediate intent to purchase a particular item while shopping. The decision and interest to buy happens after the person visits the respective areas of purchasing the item. Be it online or offline stores. Unintended and unplanned have long since been associated with impulse buying and it is a vital item but not sufficient basis for categorizing a purchase as an impulse purchase (Rook & Fisher, 1995). Impulse buying is unreflective because the buy is made without engaging in a substantial deal of estimation. An individual buying on impulse is less likely to consider the consequences or to think cautiously before making the purchase (Rook, 1987). Kroeber-Riel (1980) explained that impulse buying is a reactive behaviour, and often involves a sudden response to a stimulus.

Beatty and Ferrell, 1998 defined impulse buying as, immediate purchase having no previous objective to buy the commodity. Stern (1962) found that products bought on impulse are usually cheap. According to many studies (Beatty & Ferrell, 1998) the main characteristics of impulsive purchasing behaviour are: inclination to impulse buying, spontaneity in buying, satisfaction felt after unplanned purchase, and lack of shopping list.

This refers to the individual characteristics of the consumer. S. Ehsani Masouleh et al. Management Science Letters 2 (2012) 1055 2.1 Impulse buying factors. There are a lot of studies on various factors affecting impulse buying. Stern (1962) characterized nine factors affecting impulse buying as follows:

1.      Low price

2.      Marginal need for item

3.      Mass distribution

4.      Self service

5.      Mass advertising

6.      Prominent store display

7.      Short product life

8.      Small size or light weight

9.      Ease of storage

In addition, there are other studies that examine the role of various factors on impulse buying. For example, the researches of Beatty and Ferrell (1998); Husman (2000); Rook and Gardner (1993); Youn and Faber (2000) found that excitements and feelings strongly influence buying behaviours, which result into consumer impulse buying. Babin and Babin (2001) found that in stores consumer’s purchasing purposes and spending can be largely influenced by emotions or excitements. Impulse buying behaviour is motivated by a powerful urge (Verplanken & Herabadi, 2001) and feelings of pleasure and excitement (Ramanathan & Menon, 2002; Peck & Childers, 2006). Physical stores and Online stores are the place where buyers buy products and services whether it’s planned or unplanned purchase. It only depends on the personal income, which indicates how much and how many times he or she visits shopping stores to buy products (Tirmizi et al, 2009).

Prior researches have shown that there are different factors impacting impulsive purchasing behaviour. They include:

1.      The presence of others (Luo, 2005)

2.      The consumer’s mood (e.g., Beatty and Ferrell, 1998; Rook and Gardner, 1993)

3.      Trait impulsiveness (e.g., Jones et al., 2003; Rook and Fisher, 1995; Weun et al., 1998)

4.      Product category impulsiveness (Jones et al., 2003)

5.      Evaluation of the appropriateness of engaging in impulse buying (e.g., Rook and Fisher, 1995)

6.      Individual and environmental touch (Peck and Childers, 2006)

7.      Self-identity (e.g., Dittmar et al., 1995; Lee and Kacen, 1999)

8.      Cultural orientation (e.g., Kacen and Lee, 2002; Lee and Kacen, 1999), 

9.      Demographic characteristics such as gender (e.g., Dittmar et al., 1995; Rook and Gardner, 1993) and age (e.g., Helmers et al., 1995; Wood, 1998).

Between the ages of 18 and 39 impulse buying increases slightly and thereafter declines as to digital evolution is ever-evolving. This is consistent with Bellenger et al. (1978) who found that shoppers under the age of 35 were more prone to impulse buying compared to those older than 35 years. With that statement we know that has since changed due to the rapid growth of E-commerce, and mostly affects Generation X.  Research on characteristic impulsiveness indicates that younger individuals score higher on measures of impulsivity compared to older people (Eysenck et al., 1985) and demonstrate less self-control than adults. We also recognize the theory of individualism and collectivism which offers several insights on variables linked to impulsive buying conduct, including self-identity, normative influences, the suppression of emotion, and postponement of instant gratification.

In the next section, we discuss this theory and demonstrate that it is well suited to the study of impulse buying. Product related factors which influence some body’s impulse buying and are associated with a product and are categorized in this group. Examples of product related influences are product appearance and design (Verplanken & Herabadi, 2001). Other external or product-related factors may include actual or perceived concept from advertisement and spending power, which is associated with price and discount amount of a product (Beatty & Ferrell, 1998). Product’s design and price or its discount can affect consumers buying. Retailers can increase the number of impulsive purchases through product displays, store and packaging designs, and contemporary marketing innovations (e.g., 24/7 supermarket, television shopping channels, and internet shopping) (Jones, 2003). Other additional buying motivators are the price discounts or sales such as black Fridays and cyber Mondays for online purchases (Virvilaite, 2009).

Situational Factors: This category is devoted to all factors that can direct impulse buying act out of a person and a product. We can mention time available and self-service factors in this group. Environmental factors of the shopping area or the physical surrounding include: make it clear line of argument

1.      general interior design – colour, lighting, aroma, music, equipment

2.      Arrangement of equipment and merchandise within the store

3.      Display of merchandise

4.      Point of sale promotional materials (Mihi?, 2002).

5.      Store accessibility and sales staff (Aylott & Mitchell, 1998) as well as the location will affect the impulse buying act.

6.      Online ads from numerous online stores

What triggers an impulse purchase? Many studies on impulse buying are directly concerned with causes or antecedents of an impulse purchase. Based on previous researches, variables that cause an impulse purchase can be categorized into: person-related, product-related, shopping-environment related, and situational (Verplanken & Herabadi, 2001). Person-related factor causes impulsiveness as a trait that has gained a lot of attention in impulse buying research. The origins of this thinking are in psychology, as a person’s general impulsivity is seen as an effect to impulse purchases. The basic assumption behind these studies is that individuals vary in their tendency to buy on impulse (Jones et al. 2003). The higher the consumer’s impulse buying tendency, the more likely an impulse purchase will be. Less fixed person-related causes are concerned with affective states before, during and after an impulse purchase. Both positive and negative affective states such as excitement and pleasure, anxiety and guilt, have been studied (Beatty & Ferrell 1998). For example, the positive effect increases the felt urge to buy impulsively, while negative affect does not seem to influence impulse buying urges. On Product-related causes, some products or product categories have been found to be more susceptible to an impulse purchase. Already in 1962, Stern suggested that those products with a low price or a short product life will be more likely to be bought on impulse. Also, Bellenger et al. (1978) proposed that impulse buying varies by product. This interpretation, suggests that product inherent attributes as such would encourage impulse buying, which has later been approved and criticized, and currently it has been presented that it is the consumer-product links that are more important than the product itself. According to a social psychological viewpoint, those goods that project a person’s self-image are especially likely to be bought upon impulse (Dittmar & Beattie 1998, 129). In addition, the consumer’s impulse buying tendency has been found to vary according to different product categories (Jones et al. 2003).

Consumer’s involvement with the product category affects impulse buying tendency such as participating at events or winning of coupons or even engaging with sellers online to get discounts. Shopping environment-related causes show there are many ways an impulse purchase can be induced by the factors in the shopping environment. In general, physical store browsing increases the likelihood of an impulse purchase, that is the longer the consumers browse the store, the more likely it is that they end up buying on impulse (Beatty & Ferrell 1998). Therefore, the so-called atmospherics of a store are important in attracting consumers to stay in longer. When inside the store, consumers confront many marketing stimuli that are used to encourage impulse buying. For example, product presentation features such as special displays, end-of aisles presentations, shelf signs, tempting graphics or copy, or sales promotions can affect impulse buying (Abratt & Goodey 1990). When applied to an online shopping environment, for example the media format used to present the product information may influence on impulse purchase intentions (Adelaar et al. 2003).

According to (Frontiers of e-business research, 2004, 27) many situational factors seem to have an effect on the occurrence of an impulse purchase. For example, the more perceived money and time available consumer has, the more likely an impulse purchase is (Beatty & Ferrell 1998). Also, other situational variables such the availability of credit or the consumer being confronted with a too good a bargain to pass up have been described as part of the impulse buying experience (Dittmar & Drury 2000). Structured review of the literature, draw a conclusion of the literature, make clear line of argument.

 

Digital Marketing

Factors encouraging impulse buying on the Internet.

The Internet offers more privacy and anonymity in shopping than traditional, offline shopping environments do (Wolfinbarger & Gilly 2001). Therefore, consumers have also the anonymity to visit stores or buy items they might be embarrassed of when shopping offline. According to some researchers (Koufaris 2002, 210; Rook & Fisher 1995, 312) this availability of anonymity influences also impulse buying. Due to the social secrecy on the internet, consumers can indulge themselves in such impulse buying that otherwise would be considered embarrassing offline. Hence, the privacy and inconspicuousness offered by the internet can be considered as a factor encouraging impulse purchases online. Easy access When compared to the brick-and-mortar shopping atmosphere, Internet offers relatively easy access for the consumer to buy products. As shopping in the offline environment is constrained by time (opening hours) and geographical location, on the internet the consumer can buy at anytime from anywhere in the world. As a result, the consumer can buy items when the shopping need comes. This has been seen as possibly increasing the amount of impulse purchases (Burton 2002, 804; Koufaris 2002, 210). In addition, the easiness of access is related to the relative cost of visiting a store. In the physical shopping environment, visiting a store requires the costs of getting to the store, including costs for using the car or other types of transport, costs of parking and time consuming too. However, it is usually costless or nearly costless for the consumer to visit an online store site (Moe & Fader 2004). Therefore, it may be more probable that the consumers visit an online store without any intent of buying an item (Moe & Fader 2004), thus encouraging impulse buying.

Moreover, the actual purchase process on the internet is simple, only a few mouse clicks away. On the frontiers of e-business research, 2004; 30, easy access makes it also easy for consumers to return to the online store, therefore discouraging impulse buying. Greater variety of goods available in the internet stores offer a greater variety of products for the consumer than is possible to offer in an offline store (physical store). According to a study on impulsiveness, a wide variety of products seems to be a vital factor for impulse purchasers (Chen-Yu & Seock, 2002). In addition, it has been suggested that the complexity dimension of information load has the potential to induce an impulse purchase on the Internet (Huang 2000). It can be expected that a wide variety of products creates a more multifaceted information content for the consumer, therefore encouraging impulse buying. However,  the larger variety of goods might also boost comparison shopping, thus discouraging impulse buying.

Marketing promotions and direct marketing on the Internet offers more opportunities for the retailer to target more specifically certain customers with direct marketing and with more personalized promotions (e.g. by sending an e-mail suggesting buying certain new items based on the purchase history of the customer). In addition, the consumer can face a banner ad and be immediately transported to the site selling the product. It has been suggested that this might increase impulse buying (Koufaris 2002; Koufaris et al. 2002). However, at the same time consumers are more in control of what marketing messages they see, so the effect of the increased possibilities of marketing promotions and direct marketing on impulse buying remains somewhat controversial. Use of credit cards in the online shopping environment the payment is usually made with non-cash, that is with a credit or debit card or direct money transfer. In research on impulse buying, the availability and use of credit cards has been seen as an encouraging factor on impulse buying. As Dittmar & Drury (2000) point out, payments by credit card do not really feel like spending money. Therefore, the large percentage of credit card purchases made online can be measured as a factor increasing vulnerability to impulse buying on the internet.

Factors discouraging impulse buying on the internet delayed gratification except for downloadable electronic products, consumers will have to wait for the delivery of their purchases when buying online. Furthermore, the products are less temporally close to the consumer than in the offline shopping environment. However, the more immediately available the reward is, the more desire consumers have for it (Hoch & Loewenstein 1991). Therefore, it has been advised that the time gap in buying and receiving the product may dampen impulse buying in shopping online (Bayley & Nancarrow 1998). On the other hand, it still remains somewhat unclear which is more rewarding in impulse purchasing – the acquisition of the actual product or the shopping process. In clinical psychological view, it is more the shopping process and spending money than products that create thrills for the compulsive and addictive shoppers (O’Guinn & Faber 1989). According to Dittmar & Drury (2000), impulse shoppers can value the purchase process along with products purchased. Therefore, online impulse buying can also give immediate satisfaction if the consumer receives pleasure from the purchase process itself. Easy access is already mentioned, as an encouraging and a discouraging factor. The cost of visiting an online store is low, and therefore also returning to the store is easy. This encourages the consumer to delay the purchase decision, resulting in making multiple visits to the same store for a single purchasing decision (Moe & Fader 2004). In other words, it is easy for consumers to come back to the webstore and to complete the transaction after they have had time to think about it (Wolfinbarger & Gilly 2001, 39). If the consumer has delayed the purchasing decision and considered whether or not to buy, the probable purchase made can no longer be classified as an impulse purchase.

According to the Frontiers of e-business research (2004), increased consumer control has been suggested that when online, consumers have more control than when offline (Koufaris, 2002). According to Koufaris et al. (2002, 117) “on-line customers have unprecedented control over what they see and do”. For example, in an online store, consumers can select which product information to view, and as a result, control what information they receive. Also, the exposure to advertising and marketing communications can be controlled to some extent (e.g. filtering advertisements as junk mail when receiving e-mail or not clicking on ads). Impulse buying, on the other hand, has been presented as an exemplary case of being out of control (Rook, 1987) and being a result of consumer self-control failure (Baumeister 2002).

Therefore, the increased consumer control online may have a discouraging effect on impulse buying on the Internet. However, poor environment internet as a shopping environment is perceptually inferior atmosphere than traditional, offline environments. Internet can appeal to only two of our senses, that is, on sight and on hearing, whereas the physical shopping environment can stimulate all five senses. As a result, consumers cannot fully inspect the merchandise as marketing stimuli are more or less in the form of text, pictures and sounds. As impulse buying has been associated with strong perceptual attraction, being ‘captivated by the product’ (Thompson et al. 1990), it has been proposed that the internet as a shopping environment cannot cause impulse purchases in the same degree as offline shopping environment (Citrin, 2003). For example, consumer’s need for touch, involves touch as a hedonic-oriented response with no purchase goal, and is suggested to be related to buying impulsiveness (Peck & Childers 2003). Make it clear, aware of the possible critique and also point out the importance of it.

So, the fact that consumers cannot touch the products online reduces the possibility of impulse purchases on the internet. However, the effect of this factor on impulse purchasing may depend both on the individual characteristics of the consumer as well as the product on sale. According to Citrin et al. (2003) and Peck and Childers (2003), consumers differ on their need for tangible input, i.e. need for touch. Therefore, those consumers who are low in their need for touch are not necessarily so affected by the absence of touch on the internet. In addition, McCabe and Nowlis (2003) suggested that inaccessible shopping environments such as the Internet are less appropriate for products with material properties (such as food and clothing) that require physical examination by the consumer. However, according to McCabe & Nowlis (2003), if retailers describe how the product feels, this reluctance to remote purchasing of products with material properties could be reduced. Price & product comparisons are relatively easier for the consumers to do price and product comparisons online than when shopping offline.

Therefore, there is a temptation for the consumer to do comparison shopping and information searches before making the final purchasing decision, especially due to easy access to the store. This capability created by the internet to search more products, services and information may lead to prolonged purchasing decisions and sane thinking, thus discouraging impulse purchases (Koufaris et al. 2002, 117) structured review of the digital marketing literature review.