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Merchandising, Packaging, Insights and Studies

There's Some Cool Psychology Behind Impulse Buys [Infographic]

You’d be surprised why shoppers buy the way that they do. If your brand is in a sales slump, you can benefit from tapping into these tendencies to move products off the shelf faster. Getting placements in multiple categories is one way to boost impulse buys by consumers who might not have purchased from your brand otherwise.

So what exactly are these driving forces behind impulse purchase decisions? You’ll probably want to invest resources in gaining secondary placements once you find out. Check out the infographic below to learn more.


What drives impulse purchases?



In small stores, price is main influence of impulse buys;
In large stores, product displays have more influence

Sharp price contrasts for comparable products can lead to purchase

Study found that 85.4% list price as deciding factor for impulse buys, however 26.7% would only make purchase if discount was over 50%

23% of men report an impulse buy over $1,000 compared to 11% of women

75% of Americans have admitted to making an impulse purchase, 16% of which are worth over $500

”Marketing research studies estimate that 88 percent of impulse buys are affected by the perception of lower prices”



Packaging is a driving factor for impulse buys of less expensive, low-risk products



Highly stimulating environments and perceived crowding both increase frequency on impulse buying

Ads with associations between brand and positive feelings can lead to purchase



“Limited time offers” tap into loss aversion principle, which implies that people buy now so they don’t feel like they’re missing out later

Bulk buys/”free” extras create perceived value and lead consumers to quit their buying research and make the purchase immediately; heuristics drives this (preconceived notions that we rely on for fast decision making)

Selling items in limited quantities creates buzz and leads to a stronger desire to purchase on the spot


Category placement

Fox Business reports that $5.5 billion sales occur at checkout counter annually, results from decision fatigue

8 of 10 impulse buys are made at brick-and-mortar

”Frozen foods, snacks, and energy drinks are top impulse buys in the food realm”

Sports nutrition and nutritional drinks two segments in the functional category likely to drive impulse buys


Buyer Demographics

Knowledge that a certain person/group is already using the product, and perceived exclusivity can all lead to purchase

Vicarious ownership - simply looking at a product and knowing one can walk home with it immediately can influence one’s will to buy it

Opinions on social norms that surround buying behaviors can have a direct effect on actual behavior

Those with personality traits associated with needing high levels of stimulation are more likely to buy impulsively to feed their need for stimulation

Implicit priming is especially effective if buyer is not fully engaged in the act of shopping

People purchase things that reflect their personality in some way

Distracted buyers are more likely to buy on impulse because their mental energy for decision making is being used elsewhere

Men & women gravitate towards different types of items as mood boosters

Impulse buyers seek novelty items

Impulse buying associated with desire for pleasure, lack of self-control, and desire to impress others

Orbitofrontal cortex promotes emotional irregularities which drive impulsive behavior

Hungry shoppers more likely to make impulsive food purchases based on physiological needs

52% of millennials were more likely to make an impulse purchase than any other generation

People under 25 are 5x more likely to make an impulse purchase for a friend

45% of shoppers make impulse purchases for themselves; 25% of men make impulse buys for spouses, compared to 8% of women (men generally make more unplanned shopping trips than women); 33% of women make impulse buys for women compared to 16% of men

”Those who make under $30,000 a year are least likely to buy on a whim, with only 65% reporting a recent impulse buy”

Less educated buyers more likely to make impulse purchases than buyers with higher education levels


Shopping Style

“People who like to shop for fun are more likely to buy on impulse.”

Background music, fragrance, and store layout can induce feelings in a shopper that can indirectly lead to an impulse buy

How much time you have to shop and whether or not you’re shopping with other people impact impulse buying

Longer shopping sessions lead to more money spent

People are more likely to add on unplanned items once they’ve already committed to spending money on an item

Impulse happens more as a result of browsing than shopping for a particular item (74% more likely)

Consumers are 13% less likely to make an impulse buy on a planned shopping trip, and 23% more likely to do so on an unplanned shopping trip


Getting insider consumers' heads is just one way your brand can remedy less-than-ideal sales. In fact, the philosopher Socrates sheds some light on how to move product off the shelf faster in this post.



MotiveMetrics ResearchHealthGuidanceIdealogCreditCards.comAcademy SuccessDMN3JohnsByrnePsychology TodayGlobal NewsTruly Good FoodsJames ClearInvesp CRONielsenBrainFodderArtifacts JournalSERSC: Science & Engineering Research Support Society

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Victoria Vessella

Victoria is a Marketing Associate at Repsly, where she leads the company's P.R. and social media efforts. You can also catch her prepping for slew of exciting industry events. A New England native, Victoria has spent time living in Italy and traveling throughout Europe before settling back in Boston. When she's not planning her next trip, V is probably tasting wine or brushing up on her Italian.

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