TPMA Outlook: Do Shoppers Plan Their Impulse Buys?
by Bob Houk, TPMA Executive Director
a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of
an article fromTPMA Outlook, the
weekly newsletter for Trade Promotion Management Associates.
shoppers plan their impulse buys? Well, maybe not exactly, but they do
in many cases budget for them. At least, that’s what we’re told by a new
research study that will be published in the Journal of Consumer
Research this summer.
advance report on the study, Planning to Make Unplanned Purchases?
The Role of In-store Slack in Budget Deviation, states that most shoppers
mentally set aside an amount for unplanned purchases when shopping, a practice
they call ‘in-store slack.’
asked shoppers what items they planned to purchase, how much they expected
to spend on the planned items, and how much they expected to spend on the
total trip. After shopping, participants provided their receipts and answered
questions about themselves and the experience. More than three-fourths
of the participants included room for unplanned purchases.
in the study indicated that they employ this strategy both because they
anticipate ‘forgotten needs’ as well as because they realize that they
will encounter ‘unplanned wants’ — with some respondents even explicitly
indicating that they expected to make impulse purchases,” the authors write.
Consistent with prior studies, the shoppers were remarkably accurate when
predicting how much they would spend. The average budget deviation was
The impact of in-store
slack on budget deviation depended on how many aisles the shopper visited
and the shoppers’ level of impulsiveness. “Less-impulsive individuals who
shop most aisles tend to spend the money available from in-store slack, but
don’t exceed their overall budgets. In contrast, in-store slack leads to
overspending for highly impulsive individuals who shop most aisles,” the
authors explain. “For the majority of consumers, having in-store slack appears
to be a rational way to use the store to cue needs and preserve self-control.”
fact that customers go into the store anticipating that they will make
unplanned purchases is not a totally new idea — that’s why endcaps are
so popular, and why candy, gum and People magazine are stocked in the check-out
aisle. What is new, at least to me, is that most people have a pretty good
idea of how much they are going to spend on those unplanned purchases.
The addition of this knowledge, assuming the research stands up, should
impact the way in-store promotions are planned, and affect the thinking
behind some post-event analysis.
Questions: Are shopper marketing and other in-store programs adequately
set up to appeal to consumers who make ‘planned’ impulse buys? What
else can food retailers do at the store level to capitalize on consumers’
budgets for in-store slack?
Shoppers Plan Their Impulse Buys? – TPMA Outlook
is in-store slack? Consumers often plan for unplanned purchases – Science