How Impluse Buying Triggers compels unplanned Purchases?

How Subscription Services are the New Gen Impulse Buying Triggers

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Remember that time when you saw that really cool shirt in the shop while on your grocery trip and just had to buy it? Or when you went to pick up just one bottle of your favorite shower gel but ended up buying 3 of another kind, because there was a promotional scheme of ‘Buy 2, Get 1’ running?

According to a new survey by Slickdeals, your fellow shoppers are right there with you, following a similar pattern. The study states that an average American spends an average amount of $276 every month on such purchases with the leading category of these expenses being food and grocery. However, household items and clothing are not that far behind either in this race.

This is simply what you would call an ‘impulse buy’.


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To further explain, impulse buying is when you as a consumer make a purchase that you had not planned in advance. These acquisitions are often driven by emotions and feelings instead.

There are several other factors as well that can influence a customer in engaging in impulse-buy behavior. Some of those are shared here for your reference.

Some Factors That Trigger Impulse Buying Behavior

Although it is quite simple to lead a consumer to making a purchase at urge when in an offline setting, it becomes slightly harder to do so through online stores and websites.

Mentioned below are some such factors that act as a trigger to impulse buying.

Time-bound Promotions

Appealing to an individual’s sense of urgency is one of the oldest tricks in the book that the eCommerce businesses have rapidly picked upon. This is exactly what led to the beginning of those flash sales and 2-day long shopping festivals that you see being advertised every now and then.

While flash sales lead you to make a purchase without giving it much thought as the product might run out of stock. The 2-day or week-long online shopping fests make you feel that this is the best time to buy a product you require as you can get the same at discounted rates. But soon as you open the site, there are several other temptations served to you right there through the suggestions section of the store. These suggested items are based on your shopping patterns alongside your searches on the various search engines.

This urgency is also catered to by quick one-day and two-day deliveries made through airmail shipping and similar courier services that enable a sense of quick gratification instead of a prolonged one.

Unique Product

When browsing a website, if you see an item that you haven’t come across before, you may want to at least check what it is and what it does. And this curiosity is another one of those aforementioned feelings that the online retailers play on to make a successful sale.

Just like the feeling of urgency, curiosity is also a driving factor for impulse purchases. The item’s uniqueness plays a major part in getting the customer to agree to try it at least once.

Virtual Trials

Similar to the sunglass kiosk that is placed near the check-out counters in brick-and-mortar outlets, where you feel the urge to try one on if you like something — many online sellers are now offering virtual trials of their products, from specs and sunglasses to even furniture.

You can avail this facility for free which makes you want to give it a whirl even when you don’t need the product. And if you like it, there is a higher chance of you purchasing it anyways, even if you hadn’t planned to. These virtual trials are available through the Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies circulating the market.

Product-specific Discounts

Oftentimes, there are special discounts available on certain items or specific categories of products. For instance, additional discounts may be available on a certain clothing line in a web store that keeps a collection of several brands. That encourages the consumer to explore that particular line and make a purchase simply because the rates appear discounted.

Value for Money

By offering promotional schemes and discounts in the form of ‘Buy one, Get one’ or a flat percentage off certain products, the impulse buy behavior of a consumer can be sufficiently triggered. This is because they feel that they are getting their money’s worth or more even if they hadn’t planned on making this purchase.

Combination of this with a time-bound sale further encourages the customers to make use of this attractive offer before time lapses, and once again their sense of urgency works in the seller’s favor.


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Role Of Subscription Services As Impulse Buying Triggers

The subscription service model of business is a particularly interesting one that came to be used as extensively as it is not a long time ago.

This model can quite simply be understood as similar to that of an EMI-based purchase. It suggests collecting the payment in lieu of a product or service in small portions at regular intervals. Amazon Prime and Netflix, for example, charge a fee annually while Kindle Direct requires a monthly payment to avail its services.

All you need to do is subscribe to them and you can use their product easily. You also get to simultaneously choose how long you wish to keep said subscription. You can terminate a subscription to any such site or service at any time by consciously doing it or by not renewing the membership the next time the payment is due.

The new generation of users who mainly lie in the demographic of 15 to 35 years of age have been observed to be avid users of such subscription services around the world. This could be due to one of the multiple reasons listed below.

Convenience of Payment

Paying a small amount of money at regular intervals seems like a much simpler alternative than making a lump sum payment at once. This helps as not everyone earns a high payout to be able to afford the service.

By extending the service in the form of a membership, the companies allow all individuals to make use of its platform for a smaller pay as per their convenience. And seeing as a low purchase price is in itself an impulse buy trigger to those looking to use the site, be it as a trial or for a limited time use — the audiences and customers are easily convinced to make the purchase even if not pre-planned.


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No Budget Restrictions

More often than not, there is a fixed monthly or weekly budget in every household and every individual’s life that they need to spend within. Exceeding it is usually not an option as that would either mean cutting back on necessities or a shortage of funds for other important tasks.

Subscription services help in these cases by allowing the customers to use their products and services for smaller payouts. This way, they neither have to curb the wish to use the item nor have to worry about their budget.

Stress-free Experience

When one is not worried about how they’ll meet their requirements if they cross their budget or about how they shouldn’t have made an expensive purchase, their ability to actually enjoy the service increases multifold. Thus providing a stress free experience to the consumers, all by dividing the payment into smaller portions.

Apart from these, many online retailers also provide the option of smaller, regular payments if a customer wants to buy a particular product from them. This works in a similar manner as to the EMI-based purchases. For instance, when wanting to buy an expensive cell phone that you really want but don’t have the funds to — by making use of a subscription service model, you can purchase it and pay it off in small amounts every month.

Wrapping Up

Impulse buying might be a consumer behavior, but triggering it is no less than a marketing tactic used by companies and retailers around the globe. And subscription services are coming up as a prominent name in the list of those tactics today, owing to its popularity, especially with the new generation of youngsters.

Virginia Andrus is an independent Digital Marketing Consultant with 6+ years of marketing experience. Virginia is a chef by heart. In her free time, she is either writing marketing copies for brands and agencies or experimenting with new recipes at her home. Connect with her on Twitter: @andrus_virginia.

Remember that time when you saw that really cool shirt in the shop while on your grocery trip and just had to buy it? Or when you went to pick up just one bottle of your favorite shower gel but ended up buying 3 of another kind, because there was a promotional scheme of ‘Buy 2, Get 1’ running?

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