Understanding impulse purchases
November 24, 2014

For retailers, having integrated payments systems may help improve impulse purchasing. These transactions make up significant part of all payments done in retail, so they are not to be taken lightly. With mobile point of sale terminals, stores can make impulse buys much more expedient by having the transaction occur wherever the item is located. At the same time, there aren't a lot of conversations about how to encourage these types of sales, since they tend to happen at the spur of the moment. However, a new survey that examined consumer behavior gleaned plenty of information on how people act when they buy things.

It happens all the time
CreditCards.com undertook an extensive study of consumer behavior by conducting phone interviews with 1,000 Americans regarding impulse buys. In its results, the site found that 75 percent of those surveyed bought something without any forethought or planning recently. There was some differentiation regarding how much people spent on an impulse buy, but some transactions were quite expensive, with 10 percent saying they spent $1,000 or more in such a situation.

The emotional motivations for the purchases varied. The most common reason was because people were happy, totaling 49 percent of those surveyed. However, there were also a significant number of people who bought something because they were bored or sad. Interestingly, 9 percent said they bought something out of impulse because they were intoxicated in some manner.

When the numbers were broken down further by gender and age grouping, there was a significant amount of interesting divergences. For example, men were both more likely to spend more than $1,000 on an impulse buy as well as do so while intoxicated. Meanwhile, women were more often spending at the spur of the moment when they were sad, as well as most likely to keep their expensive purchases to $25 at most. In addition, there were significant generational differences, with senior baby boomers more likely to not have ever made an impulse buy, while only 1 in 10 millennials say the same thing.

Information such as this can help retailers shape their inventories based on what people like to buy must impulsively. For example, if a store has a lot of high-end tech gear, it may be in their interest to push it towards male customers so as to encourage them to impulse buy. The customer data from integrated payments systems can also help fine-tune inventory so that these items are more readily available.

Nexus: G-WEBCD5