When you think impulse shopping, you probably think luxury items, such as designer clothes, unnecessary gadgets or indulgent food treats.
Research investigating the reasons people shop on impulse has discovered that the items most commonly purchased are a lot more useful than you may believe.
In a recent study, researchers discovered that impulsive spending leads us to buy practical, useful things such as household cleaning products.
“Consumers who experience a loss of control are more likely to buy products that are more functional in nature, such as screwdrivers and dish detergent, because these are typically associated with problem-solving, which may enhance people’s sense of control,” the study said.
The findings suggest that when people feel out of control in their own life or their finances, they are motivated to buy utilitarian products so that they feel productive and in command of day-to-day issues.
In one part of the study, participants were asked to recall a situation in which they felt a high sense of control after shopping; in that scenario, they ended up buying more practical products at the supermarket, such as cooking ingredients and household cleaners. In a follow-up study involving sneakers, consumers were far more likely to favor function over form when they felt a loss of control.
While spending on utilitarian items may seem harmless, their cost can add up and soak more of a tight budget than necessary.
On top of the budgeting issues associated with impulse buying, shopping as a measure to feel in control of your life and deal with your stress is a horrible solution in the long term. It does nothing to address the root cause of the issue and only results in the behaviour becoming normalised as a coping mechanism.
The best way to avoid impulse shopping is to make it as difficult as possible. Don’t save your credit card details on websites such as Amazon and eBay and try leaving your credit card at home when you go shopping, so that you can only pay cash for items.
Read here for further tips to avoid impulse shopping.
Are you an impulsive shopper? What things do you buy on impulse? Have you got any tips for how to be a more sensible shopper?