Unplanned purchases and how to boost them

You surely know the situation when you went to a store to buy few necessary things and finally bought twice as full shopping cart. Most likely the communication at points-of-sales largely influences us to buy unplanned items. The communication at points-of-sales has various functions. The most important one is just the stimulation of purchases we do not plan before we enter the store, so called impulsive purchases. With their help, effective P.O.P. media can increase product sales by tens or sometimes hundreds of percent.

There are four categories of products we put into shopping carts. The first one includes planned items in the form of a concrete product and brand – specifically planned. According to a research by POPAI, these items represent 13 % of the Czech shopping cart content. The second category includes generally planned items. These are cases when we know the category of goods we want, but do not prefer any concrete brand. These items represent approximately 24 % of all Czech purchases. The third category includes purely impulsive purchases, which means items that were not planned at all and which we decided to buy in a store. You might be surprised by the fact that nearly 60 % of one shopping cart content represents these items. The last category includes substitutes when we planned to buy a concrete product of a certain brand, but decided for another brand instead. We put approximately 3 % of these “alternative items” into our shopping carts. In addition to specifically planned items, just activities at a point-of-sales can influence us within the three other categories when shopping.

What reasons lead customers to impulsive behaviour while shopping? In most cases, we shop routinely and thus habitually. Every product would like to become a part of a shopping habit of as much customers as possible. It is done by reminding some wanted items (e.g. buying batteries that might be needed at home) or evoking a new desire (e.g. communication of a novelty). But always it is about time and it is necessary to attract the attention of customers within two or three seconds. The proper P.O.P. communication should help customers to decide quickly within their impulsive behaviour and save their time and energy.

For sellers and marketers, it is important to know to what extent the purchase of their product used to be impulsive or planned. It is also necessary to know what activates the customer impulse the best. We can generally focus on emotions or functions, eventually the combination of both. For example, in the case of cosmetics, emotional stimulation used to be stronger, but for the mentioned batteries it is the functional stimulation. Specifically, for example for beer, there could be reminded the moment of its consumption, or in the case of confectionery it is stimulation of appetite. The communication should be also harmonized with the brand essence and marketing activities outside the point-of-sales.
It is necessary to avoid several mistakes to ensure the impulsive purchase support works well. The impulsive stimulation must be clear, concise and well visible. It should not give an impression of being too manipulative or dangerous (a display looking as easily falling down after touching it), obstructing the comfortable manipulation with products and should not give an impression of excessive luxuriousness or, vice versa, cheapness of the promoted product contrary to its positioning. Last but not least, the impulsive purchase can be limited by a half-empty shelves or P.O.P. media giving customers the impression that something was just left for them.

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