Friday, 6 September 2013

Moments of Weakness: Five Impulse Spending Triggers

Do you know what your weak spot is? Is it the shoe section in Harvey Nicks or those racks of beauty products at the airport? Do you buy more food when you're hungry (who doesn't)? More clothes when you're stressed? More gifts when feeling guilty? More of anything-that-isn't-nailed-down when you're pre-menstrual and have just been paid?

People rarely buy stuff for utilitarian reasons. Buying is more often the result of mind-boggling marketing tricks, seductive store layouts and a whole host of biological, psychological and even evolutionary factors.  
Purchasing decisions aren't always made rationally
We aren't always in as much control as we'd like to be, as the growing number of people with credit card debts or compulsive shopping disorders will testify. And men and women shop differently, with more women inclined to spend on impulse.

Impulse buys are a buyer's curse and a seller's dream. 

A recent article on the excellent Huffington Post website has captured the Five Big Moments When You're Most Likely to Overspend

According to their writer Candace Braun, those moments of weakness are when:

You're Mindful of The Time:  A slogan that urged people to "spend a little time, enjoy C&D's lemonade," resulted in more people buying a drink, and paying 51% more for it (compared to a those who saw a sign that asked them to "spend a little money"). This 2008 study from Stanford University showed that  'spending time' feels more like buying an experience, not just handing over hard-earned cash. Slogans linked to time, like 'thank Crunchie it's Friday' work in the same way.
If the time seems right.....

You're Trying to Avoid The Crowds: You may feel super-organised shopping at 7 a.m. on a Wednesday, when Tesco is blissfully quiet, but your purse could take a bigger hit.  Being in a crowd makes us less likely to overspend, according to a Journal of Consumer Research study. We are more focused on getting out unscathed than on making another purchase.
I know you didn't come out to buy this, but here you are!
You've Got Money in Another Account: That offer of the £100 bonus for opening an extra account seems a no-brainer. However, a May 2013 study found that people tend to save more when they have just one place to deposit money Researchers say that with one account it's easier to keep track of how much is in there -- and how much you're spending. When we have multiple accounts, it's easy to spend from one while feeling reassured there's money in the other account too.
You've Got to Buy Something Embarrassing: To try and mask the embarrassing item in their basket, almost 80 percent of people will pile in unnecessary extras to divert the cashier's and other shoppers' attention, a Journal of Consumer Research study found. Online shopping could be the answer here!
Gift purchases are less guilt-ridden
You Need Some Retail Therapy: It's common to feel the urge to splurge when emotions are high or mood is low. My research has also shown that 75 percent of women are more likely to overspend or impulse buy when treating someone else. Feeling low can lead to us literally trying to buy happiness and buying gifts for those we care about can help us feel more connected to them, as we say in Sheconomics. Of course, buying for someone else doesn't induce as much guilt either when money is tight.
Thanks again to the Huffington Post for bringing these spending triggers to light, and for including Sheconomics in their article - it's always nice to reach out to our US readers - issues with money cross cultural boundaries and oceans too.

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