A Study on Impulse Buying and its
Determinents: A Literature Review
Department of Management in Rungta Group of Colleges,
Bhilai (C.G.), India
and Research Scholar, CSVTU, Bhilai (C.G.)
Associate Professor & Head
Department of Management Studies, RCET, Bhilai (C.G.),
This paper tries
to know how consumer’s traditional planned shopping behaviour is shifting to
impulse behaviour. Through this study we tried to find what impulse buying is,
its types and various factors influencing impulse buying behaviour. For this we
have reviewed the literature to gain insights of impulse buying behaviour.
Findings show that there are various determinants which compel or force a
consumer to act in an impulsive manner.
Keywords: Consumers, Determinants, Impulse
Consumer behaviour is nowadays gaining much importance for
retailers. Due to expansion of organised retail in India, retailers are trying
to understand the behaviour of consumers that what product the consumer seeks
for, why they need a particular product, when they need it and how they are
going to purchase a product. Earlier there was a traditional buying behaviour
of consumer in which they make a list for purchasing a product and they went to
a particular store and purchase it. But now the whole buying behaviour is
changing due to rise in the income level, i.e. increase in purchasing power of
consumer, change in the sociocultural environment, change in lifestyle and
consumption pattern of consumers etc. This influences the consumer to act in
irrational manner which is known as unplanned buying. So the present study will
aim to know about impulse buying, its types and various factors influencing
Stern (1962), in his
studies refers the term “Impulse buying" as "unplanned
buying"-that is, it describes any purchase which a shopper makes but has
not planned in advance. He further identified "mix" of four different
kinds of impulse buying viz. pure, reminder, suggestion & planned impulse
buying. Pure Impulse Buying is a purchase that happens impulsively and does not
follow a usual buying pattern. Reminder impulse buying occurs when a shopper
sees an item and remembers that the stock at home is exhausted or low, or
recalls an advertisement or other information about the item and a previous
decision to buy. Suggestion buying occurs when a shopper sees a product for the
first time and visualizes a need for it, even though she has no previous
knowledge of the item. Planned impulse buying occurs when the shopper enters
the store with some specific purchases in mind, but with the expectation and
intention to make other purchases that depend on price specials, coupon offers,
and the like. Weinberg & Gottwald (1982), in their studies refer impulse
buying as “spontaneous and sudden response to a desire, incorporating
affective, cognitive and reactive factors.” Piron (1991) in his study refer the
term Impulse buying as “a purchase that is unplanned, the result of an exposure
to a stimulus, and decided on-the-spot.” After the purchase, the customer
experiences emotional and/or cognitive reactions. Rook & Fisher (1995), in
their studies explained as impulsive purchases are made “spontaneously, unreflectively,
immediately, and kinetically” and that the thinking is “prompted by physical
proximity to a desired product” and disregards future consequences.
Beatty & Ferrell
(1998) in their studies refer impulse buying as “a sudden and immediate
purchase with no pre-shopping intentions either to buy the specific product
category or to fulfil a specific buying task.” He further describes impulse
buying as instantaneous purchase having no previous aim or objective to
purchase the commodity. This behaviour occurs after experiencing an urge to buy
and tends to be Spontaneous. Wood (1998), in his study refer impulse buying as
unplanned, lacks thought and is accompanied by intense emotion. Jones et al.
(2003), in his study found three features to characterize impulse purchases.
When buying on impulse, the consumer makes an Unintended, Unreflective,
Determinants of Impulse Buying
These factors are
personal variables, product, price, promotional variables, and demographic,
environmental factors and so on.
Demographics:This includes Age, gender and income
of the consumers which are vital for retailers to study. We had tried to find
out how these influences impulse buying decision of consumers.
Age: Various researchers had tried to
establish the relationship between age and impulse buying behavior. Some
researcher found that there is a negative relation between age and impulse
buying behavior. They found that younger the consumer is more they are impulse
buyer. This shows that young consumer have less self-control on purchasing
behavior as compared to older ones. Rawlings (1995), Bellenger(1978), Mai et
al.(2003) &Ghani et al. (2011) in their research found that age has
negative relationship with the impulse buying tendency of consumers.
Gender: Several studies examined the role of
gender in impulse buying behaviour. It has been generally observed that females
are more inclined towards shopping. Many of the researchers found that females
are more impulse buyer as compared to male. Kollat& Willett (1967), Bellenger(1978),Dittmar&Drurry
(2000) & Wood (1998), also found similar results. However, Mai et al.(2003)and
Cobb & Hoyer (1986) found the opposite relationship. They found that men
were more likely to do impulse purchases than female.
in their studies found that females purchases the product which represents them
in society as identity as they are more emotional as compared to men who
generally practical in nature. They use to analyse and evaluate more before the
Income: Impulse buying is mostly influenced
by income of the consumer. Many researchers examined the relation between
income and impulse buying behavior. They found that consumer with higher income
have usually have a habit to spend more which influences their purchase
decision. Lin & Lin (2005),in their studies measured income as another
variable which influences impulse buying behaviour. He found a positive
relationship between the adolescents’ pocket money and their impulse behaviour.
The impulse purchases of adolescents increased with the increase in their
that there are some situations and retail atmosphere which influence both in
store responses and future store choice decisions of the consumers because of
the changing and dynamic nature of expectations, preferences, and behavior.
Environment of the store is also a major factor that influences impulse buying
behavior of consumers. So the retailer plan to create an environment which boost
the buying spirit of consumers and tries to impart positive effect on the
buying behavior of consumers. Retailers are nowadays mostly involved in
creating an artificial environment for the consumers which will influence them
to visit a particular store which ultimately leads to impulse buying. These
environmental variables are as follows:
Merchandising: It can be regarded as retail function
that help the retailer create a visually appealing or pleasing shopping
environment, which will in turn increases the sales. This is also referred as
point of purchase display (POP). Visual merchandising, or visual presentation,
is the means through which retailers can communicate a store /company’s fashion
value and quality image to prospective customers. Han et al. (1991),found that
the greater the store stimuli, such as visual merchandising, which serves as a
shopping aid, the more will be the possibility of a desire or need a rising
and finally creating an impulse purchase.
In-Store Promotions:Gutierrez (2004) identified,
retailers’ must improve the shopping environment through attractive store
displays and in-store advertisements, and makes it enjoyable to trigger impulse
buying among consumers. Retailers should make a mix that includes in it both
the atmospheric and promotional/economic factors to increase sales through
Lighting: Nowadays retailers are using vibrant
lighting to highlight the product and attract the consumer. Sometimes retailer
overlook the impact of lighting in the store .Through it has been proved that
lighting can increase the sales. Areni& Kim (1994) & Summers &
Hebert (2001) in their studies found that under ‘bright lighting’ conditions
products are more often examined and touched than under ‘dim lighting’
conditions. Magnum (1998), in his research found that lighting influences the
attractiveness of products in a store which ultimately leads to impulse buying.
factors like music, fragrance, colors etc. are also seen to be an important
aspect which influences impulse buying behavior. Some of the researcher had
conducted several experiments which were done in a store to find out the impact
of music on purchase decision. They did it by changing the tempo of music and
scent in the store and found the significant relation with impulse buying.
Apart from external
factors there are some internal determinants which influence the consumer
buying decision. These are the stimulus that compels the individual to act in a
Moods: Individual’s inner state of mind
influences him to react to a particular situation which is known as mood. Some
of the researchers found that there is a negative relation between mood and
impulse buying behaviour. Individual with a bad mood loses their self-control
in a shopping environment and purchases impulsively.
Emotions: Emotion can be considered to be an
important variable to understand impulse buying. Watson&Tellegen(1985), in their studies
found a positive relationship of positive emotions with the overall impulse
buying behaviour of the consumers. The researchers,Beatty & Ferrell (1998)
,Hausman (2000), Rook et al. (1993), &Youn& Faber (2000) found that
emotions are the major determinant which influences buying behavior, which result
into consumer impulse buying.
Self-Image: Self-image is a set of knowledge and
beliefs about one self that is stored in memory. Each person has a believed
self-image as a certain kind of person with certain habits, relationship to
claim that consumer; self-perception can have a strong influence on their
behaviour in the market place.Sirgy (1982), in his study defined self-concept
as the totality of how the individual’s thought and feelings having reference
to him as an object.
Culture: Cultural factors significantly
influence consumers’ impulsive buying behaviour. People from collectivist
cultures are seen to be on a more interdependent self-concept and people from
individualist cultures are seen to be relying on a more independent self-concept
in any given situation
Regret: Sometimes an individual regret for
his/her decision. This means that individual who does impulse buying without
thinking can be dissatisfied with the decision he has taken in the store.Piron
(1991), in his study found that impulse purchase would result in
dissatisfaction and regret.
Shopping Enjoyment:Beatty & Ferrell (1998), in their
research defined shopping enjoyment as “the pleasure one obtains in the
shopping process.” Some people enjoy shopping than others .Some consumers sees
shopping as a fun seeking activity and they enjoy shopping with some of their
reference group. So Shopping enjoyment is another determinant which influences
impulse buying among consumers.
Stern (1962), in their
research explained that Product characteristics can also influence consumer’s
impulsive buying behaviour. Some Variables such as the appearance of products,
product life, product size & some of the product features have been
suggested to be effective on consumer impulse buying behaviour. Product's
design & packaging can affect consumers buying. Retailers can influence
impulse buying decision by making attractive design and packaging of the
product. Jones et al. (2003), in their studies found that contemporary
marketing innovations (e.g., 24-hour convenience stores, television shopping
channels, and internet shopping) also influence buying decision.
Price is another
important factor which influences the impulse buying, Stern (1962), in his
studies realized that the products which are purchased in an impulsive manner
often have a cheap price. Some researcher showed that a reverse relation exists
between the level of products price and rate of the impulse purchases. Some of
the researcher found that there is no relation between price of the product and
impulse buying behaviour of consumers.
Promotion has become an
important tool of marketing and retailers are using it to increase the sales of
product. Youn& Faber (2000), in their research showed that people are
buying more impulsively, more react to the promotional gifts (such as free
gifts, discounts, free samples, etc.).
of the Study
current scenario of retail marketing, marketers are still concentrating on
traditional promotion strategies which target consumers to plan their purchase
decision. But to gain a competitive advantage and sustain market competition
marketers must focus on influencing unplanned buying decisions. Therefore it’s
the time for markers to turn on such variables that leads to impulse buying
decision. A future study can be done to study the impact and effectiveness of
those variables which ultimately leads to impulse buying.
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