Saturday, October 07, 2006

The logic behind impulse buys

I just read a post on Seth Godin's blog where he compares a real life experience where he is rushing for a meeting, with the impulse buying behavior.
Seth recalls an incident where he was rushing to a meeting and did not have time to talk to an old friend that he had met. However, later on, when the friend mailed him, Seth was unable to recall what the meeting (that had seemed so important) was even about.
He then concludes with 2 interesting observations:
  • the first is that a lot of our day is spent doing stuff that seems urgent but really isn't.
  • and the second is that most people buy most things in a state of urgency, not relaxation. We pay what we pay when we buy what we buy because right then, in that moment, it's not just important, it's vital.
The second point here is very important. This impulsive buying behavior of customers is something that every marketing guy has to keep in mind. This is the reason why, for eg., grocery stores display items at the check out counter. The customer has one last chance to buy those things. Once they are done billing, it is a big hassle to pick up that extra item and queue up to purchase that item. So, there's a sense of urgency associated with that buying decision. And that can be key in tilting the customer's undecided mind towards a decision to purchase the item.

That's why, I strongly believe, that there is a great scope for advertising/marketing solutions that target the customer when he/she is in a position where they are most likely to make an impulse purchase. Location based mobile phone advertising can be a great tool in this regard. In fact, this is one area that I'm interested in actively pursuing in the near future, because of it's obvious potential to change the state of advertising as we see it today. As compared to TV advertising, where the customer's actual buying decision is not done at the same time as the customer is exposed to the advertising, mobile advertising can effectively bridge that gap. Internet advertising did solve that problem to an extent. But it is again limited to certain types of consumer purchases only. Mobile advertising, on the other hand, can clearly be extended to all forms of real world, consumer purchases. Don't you think so?


Image: Check out counter at grocery store, nuanc,

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