Impulse purchasing habit triggered by longer stay in store
A new US study has found that the longer shoppers are in a grocery store, the more likely they are to impulse buy.
The research published in the Journal of Marketing, Volume 79, Issue 3 and authorised by Timothy Gilbride and others from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, says that unplanned purchasing occurs later in the grocery shopping trip as the customer gives into temptation.
“So there is a good reason why the celebrity gossip magazines and candy are located closer to the check-out aisles,” said researcher Timothy Gilbride.
Waiting till the end of the shopping trip to make a unplanned buy is not what all shoppers do however. Researchers found that some make an unplanned choice early on and this then encourages them to stick to their list for the rest of the trip. The study labels this as the ‘self-regulation’ theory.
But even shoppers who follow this pattern do not always stay on track the rest of their shopping experience. Researchers call this “resource depletion’.
“It takes mental effort to keep to our goals, and over time, we get tired and are less conscientious, or just give up,’’ said Gilbride.
The study discovered the ‘cueing theory’ which is when a customer buys something unexpectedly and is then triggered to remember something they otherwise would have forgot to buy.
Shoppers with lists have willpower
Overall researchers found that shoppers were good at sticking to their lists and some customers even allocated themselves a specified amount of money for unplanned purchases. Gilbride says that some shoppers may decide on a ‘fun’ unplanned purchase as a reward for sticking to the shopping list.
He suggests that utilising data and technology, especially apps, could come in handy in these circumstances by supermarkets to stimulate more impulse shopping.
“So a shopping app might offer a coupon for a half gallon of ice cream, if it’s not on the shopping list, after the shopper has selected a planned carton of eggs.” said Gilbride.