Impulsive Shopping and Post-Pandemic Consumer Behavior
Picture this: You're in the supermarket in your neighborhood queuing to pay and see some delicious and totally irresistible chocolates that you didn't even think about buying, but that now are something that has become essential. That is what in marketing is called "impulsive buying" and, for example in the case of supermarkets, it's their main source of benefits.
Let’s take it up a notch. Have you thought about how you can translate an Instagram or Facebook like into a sale? That’s called influencer marketing, and I’ll show you how to unleash this online technique by starting a conversation and ultimately driving sales and establishing impulsive shopping, whether this was your initial objective or not. Remember, one like, share or comment might equal one sale.
The internet and mobile devices, as instant tools, favor impulsive purchases. Different promotions present on your website can trigger unplanned purchases by internet users. Imagine being able to have those displays that are in the boxes of the supermarkets integrated into the design and shopping experience of your website. How much extra income could they bring you? The experience may surprise you.
Flash Sales (Time-Limited)
Flash sales are time-limited sales that are very often used in e-commerce to encourage impulsive buying. Generated by an attractive offer but limited in time, the shopper has to make a quick decision if he or she doesn't want to miss the opportunity. Flash sales work very well, especially in specific seasons when people are willing to spend more money (e.g., Christmas, Back to School, Halloween).
The hook is to set a minimum purchase price so that the shipping costs are free and, if the customer hasn't yet reached that amount, offer low-cost products at checkout that achieve the minimum required price. If you use products that far exceed the minimum amount, it won't work. However, if they're inexpensive and related to the purchase that has been made, success is practically guaranteed.
Showing available stock levels can, to some extent, favor impulsive buying. If the number of products in stock is low, the interested visitor will tend to buy the product for fear of not finding it again at the price proposed on your site.
Offer Discount Coupons or Free Product
On condition of making a purchase, of course. This type of tactic has been shown to also boost sales, since the customer must buy in order to receive their gift.
Discounts on these types of items range between 20 percent and 50 percent of their initial price. For example, if they're products that expire the next day, the price is usually cut in half. However, if we talk about products that have weeks to expire, the discount stays between 20 percent and 30 percent. Stores free themselves of inventory that would end up in the trash — and without any benefit if not bought — while customers get a good deal for a product that they would either buy or just purchase to take advantage of that specific occasion.
From toilet paper in the early pandemic to bleach to flour, during this crisis consumers have modified their consumption and purchase habits. But what will the consumer be like post-pandemic? It's evident that many consumers have had to test e-commerce as a result of this crisis, and they've likely realized how comfortable and safe it is for them.
Confinement has made the segment of the population that least bought online, those over 55-60 years old, now the group that needs it the most, especially those over 70, who are the most vulnerable to the virus. While consumers preferred to buy some specific products in-store, if the products they received at home met their expectations, it's very likely that after the crisis they will continue to shop that way.
On the same line of a shifting consumer behavior, for instance, some of the most popular products today are related with protecting employees and distancing consumers from employees, such as speak-thru devices, trays and shelves, and sliding service windows.
Where do impulsive purchases predominate: in physical stores or online?
Physical stores are the main claim to get a customer to buy without having thought about it before. This fact is partly logical because the most impulsive purchases are food, clothing, drinks, and personal care products. If discounts and promotions are added to that, the mix is perfect. Supermarkets, shopping malls and convenience stores are the central places for these types of sales.
Furthermore, some stores go the extra mile by using techniques that play with your senses, such as releasing exquisite coffee and fresh cookie smell to get you in, even if they’re not in the food business.
Online advertising is the least appreciated to generate purchase impulses, but that doesn't mean such tactics are useless. Brands that use digital platforms as their initial engagement and establish the first connection have the potential to reap the benefits when the time comes to make the final purchase in-store, according to a study by Geoblink. Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed stated having bought between one and five products spontaneously in the last week, while 26 percent admitted having made between six and 10 purchases of this type.
The millennial generation is the one that buys the most on impulse. For example, a small group of 7 percent have bought up to 11 items without foresight in the last week. The previous facts serve as a great opening remark for the aforementioned influencer marketing technique. If you got until this part of the article, it means that there’s impulsive buyer material within you.
Influencer marketing is nothing more than getting the right people to talk about your brand. Firstly, triggering your target audience to talk about you. Secondly, prompting that audience talking to each other about you. Lastly, you and the audience listening to each other. When this two-way conversation is in place, it's very probable that some of your social media likes, whether on Instagram or Facebook, are in fact translating into sales in your physical or online store.
There are a couple of exceptions to this rule on digital impulsive buying: the first, that those who already have a subscription to a platform like Amazon, which avoids having to go through several stages before buying, are better able to combat the impulsive factor. The second: when the object to buy is an electronic item. Fifty-five percent of participants chose the internet as the preferred medium for the impulsive purchase of these items.
Art Goldman is the chief financial officer at DK Hardware, a hardware supply retailer.
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