Impulsivity invades shopping sprees

Stores across the country are having major sales for the Black Friday shopping spree.  |  Hannah Laamoumi/The Daily Cougar

Stores across the country are having major sales for the Black Friday shopping spree. | Hannah Laamoumi/The Daily Cougar

As all serious shoppers know, the day after Thanksgiving, commonly known as Black Friday, marks the start of the holiday shopping season, and retailers focus their marketing on encouraging impulse buying among shoppers.

Marketing professor Jacqueline Kacen has extensively studied impulse buyers and the factors associated with it.

“Impulse buying is defined as an unplanned purchase that is characterized by relatively rapid decision-making,” Kacen said. “Highly impulsive buyers are likely to be unreflective in their thinking, to be emotionally attracted to the object and to desire immediate gratification.”

Kacen published her research on impulse buying in the “Journal of Consumer Psychology.”

Photography junior April Becerra-Vargas, former retail employee, knows all the tricks about impulse shopping.

“They try to encourage you to buy without thinking,” Becerra-Vargas said. “Zero percent interest for six months, buy two and save 40 percent. They’ll do anything to get your money.”

Retailers at traditional stores have a process to put their shoppers in an atmosphere where they will be prone to purchase things impulsively.

“The sensory stimulation provided by the store environment is particularly acute during the holiday shopping season when holiday decorations, holiday music and holiday scents, such as cinnamon and gingerbread, activate our visual, aural and olfactory senses,” Kacen said.

“Such festive environments put us in a good mood. People in more positive moods are more likely to make an impulse purchase and are willing to pay more for the item.”

Media production senior Sacha Ryder still participates in Black Friday despite its craziness.

“It’s a really hectic experience,” Ryder said. “Usually, I go to Black Friday sales without really knowing what I’m going to get.”

Americans spent $563 million during the holiday season last year, with only $90 million from online sales, according to the National Retailer Federation.

Kacen’s research compares the satisfaction of shoppers who planned their purchases and those who made their choice impulsively.

“Consumers spend more time and effort making a planned purchase decision, but are no more satisfied with their planned purchases than their impulse buys,” Kacen said.

The research shows that shoppers making a planned purchase spend more time in the store, on average, 47.3 minutes, compared to the average time of an impulse buyer, which is 16.7 minutes.

“So consumers spend more time and effort on the planned purchase, but aren’t more satisfied,” Kacen said. “So, perhaps impulse buying is not necessarily a bad thing.”

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