Despite economic pressures, Shoppers are as impulsive as ever, with the number of grocery categories that a shopper buys from impulsively increasing by a third since 2008, according to new research.
The follow-up report examining impulsive shopping and understanding its role in shopper behaviour has been launched today by Shoppercentric, an independent agency specialising in shopper research.
Meanwhile, women continue to be the more impulsive shopper and 39 percent go so far as admitting that shopping is a fun way of using up time in the day, the report found.
The study follows on from the 2008 “Windows on Impulse Shopping” report, and its purpose is to provide an indication of how shoppers impulse behaviour has changed over time – especially in light of the pressures shoppers, retailers and manufacturers have faced (and continue to cope with) as a result of the continuing economic downturn. It also aims to challenge the perception of an impulse purchase as an indulgence.
The report findings are however surprising – despite the air of austerity, shoppers are as impulsive as ever before – and in some cases, even more so than back in 2008 before the downturn took its toll. The number of grocery categories for example that a shopper buys from impulsively has increased by a third since 2008.
Shoppers are also just as likely to buy on impulse expensive high ticket items such as furniture and electricals too (27 percent in 2008 Vs. 28 percent in 2011).
“The findings show that shoppers are as impulsive as ever, but they are doing so for different reasons,” said Danielle Pinnington, Managing Director at Shoppercentric. “Historically impulsive spending implies frivolous spending behaviour, but this is not necessarily the case today – now, impulse behaviour can be the mark of a smart and savvy shopper. It’s about opportunism: seeing a product at a good price or spotting a bargain that genuinely saves money – these are the factors that drive impulse whilst allowing shoppers to feel they are in real control of their spending during difficult times.”
• The number of grocery categories that a shopper buys from impulsively has increased by a third since 2008 (see Graph 1 attached comparing categories)
• Despite shoppers buying as impulsively as ever, just 21 percent of shoppers would actually admit to being more impulsive now vs. 27 percent in 2008.
• Women continue to be the more impulsive shoppers – 77 percent women vs. 71 percent of men when grocery shopping; and 63 percent of women vs. 50 percent of men when mid-cost shopping. Interestingly both women and men shop equally impulsive on high ticket items (28 percent).
• The level of impulse shopping via online has dropped from 50 percent to 43 percent of shoppers
• 39 percent of women in 2011 agree that shopping is a fun way of using up time in the day compared to 29 percent in 2008.
• 45 percent of 18-24 year old shoppers say that they are buying things more impulsively now vs. 21 percent for the total sample. They are also the most impulsive age group when buying mid cost or high cost items. Interestingly 60 percent of them agree that shopping gets them out of the house, compared to 46 percent among the total sample.
• Promotions are an increasingly important factor driving impulsive behaviour this year (see Graph 2. attached for 2008/2011 comparisons and full range of triggers).
o Importantly Low prices (44 percent) and Good Bargains (40 percent) were cited as the biggest impulse triggers for Shoppers. Pester power produced the least results with just three percent of triggers.
• The ranking of impulse products has changed, with the more traditional treating categories occupying the top places (Sweets in first place followed by Cakes and Chocolate – the same as in 2008). The biggest change has been with Ready Meals – falling from 5th place in 2008 to 11th in 2011. Far fewer are now buying ready meals on impulse, but of those that do, they are now twice as likely to say it was an indulgence (e.g. a treat or reward) than in 2008.
• Men are more likely than women to agree that “It’s very easy to just buy something off the internet without really thinking about how much you are paying” (36% vs 33%)
• 16-34 year olds are the age group most likely to agree with the above statement (46% vs 34% among the total sample)
Pinnington concluded: “As an industry we are all too ready to underestimate shoppers; Brands try to cram more products on shelf in the belief shoppers want even more choice; Retailers and Brands pepper the stores with promotions – some of which aren’t a bargain at all and retailers think shoppers don’t notice when standards slip a bit.
However our evidence shows that Shoppers are now seeing through half-hearted marketing initiatives, are showing a willingness to play channels and retailers off against each other; and they have adopted a new level of prudence to deal with the pressures they are facing. Impulse should no longer be thought of as frivolous behaviour – increasingly it is savvy opportunism.”
The research consisted of 1054 online interviews amongst a sample of 1,000 UK adults (16+), with nationally representative quotas.