When ordering groceries online this week, right before I was about to pay, this page came up asking if I’d forgotten to order some of my usual items. Having seen these items I immediately began adding some into my cart, thinking that I must have missed them while I was shopping on the site, and im sure im not the only one that falls prey to this technique. Many online website utilitse this technique in various ways which they feel are personalized to each person based on their previous purchasing history, such as Amazon which suggests items to buy that seem so personalized that people often end up buying them impulsively, having had no previous need or want for such items. These supermarkets and websites are utilizing the persuasive technique of impulse buying.
Jeffrey and Hodge (2007) conducted a study where visitors to a site placed items into a virtual shopping cart. After clicking the checkout button, visitors were shown a summary of their contact information, basket contents and the total amount to pay. They were then offered the opportunity to buy one of three ‘add-on’ items all of which cost $5, which was exclusive to this offer.
Participants were either assigned to a donation or control condition. Those in the donation condition a saw that a US $1.00 donation to a charity would accompany the purchase of the impulse item, while the other group saw only the items for sale. The price of the item was still $5.00 in the donation condition. To rule out purchasing just for the sake of donation, a separate area on the website was provided which allowed donation separately.
The results found that as the amount previously spent increased, participants were more likely to purchase the additional item. Interestingly, those of a higher SES were less likely to purchase additional items, perhaps because they saw little value in cheap items such as mouse pads. Furthermore, adding an incentive such as donation to add-on items further increased the likelihood of impulse buying.
These results can be applied to the examples such as the one I provided. By placing items right at the checkout, the consumer is more likely buy them, as they seems individually inexpensive and are usually items that I obviously like, it makes the buyer feel adding in a couple they may have missed it while shopping will make little difference to the amount they are already spending.
Jeffrey, S. A., Hodge, R. (2007). Factors influencing impulse buying during an online Purchase. Electron Commerce Research, 7, 367–379.