Impulsive spending

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Impulsive spending
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Impulsive spending - behavior which can turn to the habit of thoughtless money spending not planned caused not by the need, but by the unplanned impulse. Mostly, these purchases are made "without deliberation, and without regard for the consequences"(N. Mead and K. Vohs 2007, p.411). Despite all the psychological aspects of this customers' behavior, for companies, it is very profitable in the short-term even if in the future it can lead to dissatisfaction and discontent with consumers. It is obvious that companies aim to provoke customers into that impulsive purchases, because "impulsive buying generates over $4 billion in annual sales volume in the United States" and it "accounts for up to 80% of all purchases in certain product categories"(J.J. Kacen and J.A. Lee 2002,p. 163,164). The easiest ways to encourage consumers to buy by the impulse is to use psychology marketing tricks to affect his/her feelings. The store atmosphere is strongly related to the customer's emotions, which are the cause of impulse. For example:

  • arranging customer-friendly in-store environment by using scents, background music, decorations or displays such as placing snacks next to the checkout
  • using special names for discounts, sales, and other specials
  • using coupons
  • avoiding stores being crowded and clients standing in the queues

Reasons for impulsive spending

According to R.F Baumeister, we can single out two types od impulses, which make people spend impulsively (R.F. Baumeister 2010, p.670).

  • Irresistible - the impulse which makes you feel helpless and the consumer has no other option but to give up and resist, but in practice, they rarely or never occurs.
  • Resistible - the impulse consumer often feel while shopping, it's easier or harder to fight but it can be controlled.

There are a few psychological reasons why people start and continue to indulge in impulsive spending. According to N. Mead and K. Vohs, one of that factor can be social exclusion - it has been proved that people, who are in some kind socially excluded are more likely to buy things impulsively (N. Mead and K. Vohs 2007, p.412). Mood and emotional state od customer has been proven to also affect buying decision - positive feelings are more likely to lead the customer to spend impulsively. Indulging in impulsive spending can be caused by self- control failure, which mostly has three main causes - "standards, a monitoring process, and the operational capacity to alter one's behavior" (R.F. Baumeister 2010, p.670). Standards are aims and purposes that individual customer is having, monitoring is about having control over one's actions and the last one refers to will to change oneself. The researches have shown that "materialistic consumers do not easily engage in impulsive spending when they perceive high economic mobility, whereas they tend to spend impulsively when they perceive low economic mobility"(S. Yoon and H.C. Kim 2016, p.798).


Author: Barbara Fidelus