By Danielle Pinnington, Founder & Owner, Shoppercentric
The shift in shopping habits from weekly large trolley trips to smaller more frequent shops is leading to a range of challenges for retailers and brands alike.
One key challenge is that of mission morphing in smaller format stores. A shopper may have entered the store planning to buy food for tonight, but a check of their basket shows that there were just as many toiletry items as food items at the checkout. In this example a food for tonight mission has morphed into something quite different – seemingly on impulse because the toiletries were not planned for that shopping trip.
Behaviour like this reminds us that impulse purchasing is a mind-set that can be triggered by a range of factors or circumstances. If the different nuances of impulse purchasing are understood, then brands and retailers alike have a better chance of proactively triggering those unplanned purchases. In our experience impulse behaviour falls into one of three categories.
The first category is ‘Pure Impulse’. This is the classic – ‘see it want it’ and is commonly associated with some sense of treating or indulgence, and is how we typically think of impulse purchasing.
The second category is ‘Reminder Impulse’ ie when the visual cue is a trigger – ‘see it, remember I need it’. This behaviour is often associated with commodity categories such as toiletries or household cleaning.
And finally there is ‘Opportunistic Impulse’. This is when an offer brings a longed for product into reach: ‘See it at best value’. Surprisingly there are a number of shoppers who admit to buying such large ticket items as TVs on impulse, usually when they’ve already done their research and spot the desired item on offer despite not planning to buy the item that day.
These differences are of considerable importance in terms of which shopper marketing levers to use instore to trigger each behaviour. By drilling down beyond the basic unplanned nature of the purchase, and identifying the context to the seemingly impulsive decision, we can identify the right triggers:
With ‘Pure Impulse’ it is important to think about triggering the desire by improving visibility instore, using treating cues, and promotions that support the purchase rather than push it. With ‘Reminder Impulse’ the solutions are around secondary siting, to trigger the reminder, and with Opportunistic Impulse it is about promotions that draw attention in terms of value and visual cues to drive home the eye-catching deal
This granularity is becoming increasingly important because of the macro trend I mentioned earlier around small shopping trips. Small, more occasion-based trips are a prime breeding ground for impulse purchasing. A savvy retailer or brand will do the research that identifies the best opportunities to proactively trigger impulse purchasing or even mission morphing, so that the right shopper marketing is targeting the impulse mind-set. And as we all know, impulse purchasing = increased basket size.