Taking up the ‘in-store slack’
An interesting new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research in the US claims that shoppers have a prepared mental budget to allow for impulse purchases.
The study, conducted in Texas involved asking shoppers what items they planned to purchase, how much they expected to spend on the planned items, and how much they expected to spend on the total trip.
Upon leaving the store the shoppers presented their receipts and answered some questions about themselves and the experience.
Over three quarters allowed themselves some ‘In-store slack‘ for unplanned purchases and the authors propose that this happens because we anticipate having ‘Unplanned wants’ and ‘Forgotten needs’ as we shop. However, such behaviour can affect household budgets for shoppers with a low temptation threshold.
The authors, Karen M. Stilley, Jeffrey Inman and Kirk L. Wakefield note that, “Less-impulsive individuals who shop most aisles tend to spend the money available from in-store slack, but don’t exceed their overall budgets. In contrast, in-store slack leads to overspending for highly impulsive individuals who shop most aisles.
“For the majority of consumers, having in-store slack appears to be a rational way to use the store to cue needs and preserve self-control. Highly impulsive individuals may want to consider planning as many purchases in advance as possible.”
Such findings demonstrate the importance of in-store communications because the study implies that shoppers actively expect brands to prompt them to make a purchase. To read a bit about our own study on shopper behaviour, click here.