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Julia Hammond
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Impulse Buying: The Psychology Behind Sales

We’ve all had moments where we see something — through the shop windows, on our Instagram feed, on someone we walked past — and decide ‘I want that’

Especially when the desired item comes with a bright red tag stating it’s on sale. A survey conducted by Mood Media found that 62% of Australian shoppers of all ages are more likely to make an impulse purchase when there are discounts.

Plus, with the ease and convenience of eCommerce, consumers are constantly exposed to products, increasing the likelihood of a purchase at any given moment. PayPal’s 2018 mCommerce Index Trends Report showed that almost two thirds of Australians browse on eCommerce sites without the intention to buy. However, 77% of those people end up making an impulse purchase. 

What is impulse buying?

An impulse purchase or impulse buying is the act of purchasing a product or service without planning to in the first instance.

Why do we do it?

There’s a very interesting psychology behind why individuals tend to make impulse purchases. Essentially, impulse shopping happens because many of us derive an enormous amount of pleasure from having something new.

There are many reasons that contribute to us needing that rush of happiness that comes from buying products. Some of the more common ones are listed below.

Treating Yourself

We’ve grown up in a society that uses material objects as rewards – from birthday gifts, to graduation presents and monetary incentives. We’ve always been exposed to the concept that if we do well, if we achieve something: we get material rewards as recognition.

Similarly, if we’re feeling particularly good about ourselves or feel like we’ve accomplished something — we tend to reward ourselves with a purchase. This could be something as simple as getting pizza for dinner after completing all your assignments or deciding to buy a new outfit after you got that promotion at work.

Celebration, happiness and fulfilment is a big motivator of purchases as it adds to all those positive feelings. And we end up walking away feeling twice as good as we did before.

Fear of Missing Out

Loss aversion can also be a motivator for purchases. When something is limited edition or is on the verge of being discontinued, it can push us to immediately make a purchase due to our fear of missing out.

And many brands have fully capitalised on this fear. Sneaker brands make thousands of dollars in revenue from limited addition sneaker releases. While McDonald’s saw long lines of people at numerous stores when it announced a limited release of their infamous, discontinued Szechuan sauce.

Possible Savings

Another motivator for impulse purchases are discounts and the idea that a purchase is saving you money. If we see something that looks like a really good deal, we can trick our brain into justifying the purchase just for the monetary value as opposed to considering if the product is something we really need.

Retail Therapy

Research has found that individuals tend to be more impulsive when they were feeling sad or upset and fixed this through retail therapy. Psychologists suggest that this form of shopping is a defence technique and a way to escape from unwanted feelings through the joy of having new things. 

Retail therapy often gives us a temporary boost of happiness, most likely stemming from the fact that shopping can make us feel more in control of what we do in our lives.

What can we do as marketers?

As marketers, it’s important to understand the impulses and motivations behind consumer purchases. Because a key feature of converting interest into sale, is the experience you give your customers — even with impulse buying.

Things like the ease of your store’s online shopping journey, the ability for returns, and the content writing on your sponsored ads all affect a consumer’s decision to purchase. In this modern era, consumers are spoilt for choice, so you need to show them you truly understand their motivations in order to gain their trust.

Impulse buying also catches people at any time. It could be on their walk back home from work or it could be while they’re sitting in the lounge room browsing on Facebook. It’s vital that businesses consider a multi-channel marketing approach to increase their reach towards all types of customers.

Let WME Help you Find the Right Impulse Buyers

To learn more about your customer base with Google analytics, discover demographics that give you high purchase volumes with Facebook advertising and write engaging copy with a content marketing strategy, talk to the experts at WME. We can work with you and help you discover untapped audiences and more. For that extra rush of happiness, call us on 1300 663 995 today.

By Charlene BoseJulia Hammond


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