Impulse Shopping Never Gets Old - Medallion Retail
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Impulse Shopping Never Gets Old

POSTED ON: 03/03/15 Impulse buying

Those dang Millennials, with their selfies and their Instagrams and their Vines. Completely self-involved. My generation was never like that – too “smart” to work a boring job or be taken in by advertising.    

That argument is getting tired; it has a definite “you kids stay off my lawn” vibe. More importantly, it’s not true. Sure, Millennials are narcissistic and self-absorbed. So was everyone at that age. (Heck, the Boomers celebrated “The Me Decade.”) It’s called being young, feeling full of yourself and thinking you know more than everyone else.

That same Millennial is probably also tech-savvy, globally aware, socially conscious, collaborative and altruistic. Clearly a better person than I am.

Except when it comes to that candy display at the cash register. It’s true, Millennials, you’re just as impulsive as anyone else.

Impulse buying knows no generation boundaries. She is an equal-opportunity temptress. A 2014 Gallup study showed that 42% of US Millennials had made an impulse purchase in the past four weeks. Forty percent of GenX respondents and 39% of the Baby Boomers reported the same.

Because impulse buying is not a generational thing. It’s a human behavior thing, tapping into two primal human motivations: avoiding pain and experiencing pleasure.

It is also a profitable thing, especially with brick-and-mortar retailers. Research by A.T. Kearney indicates that 40% of consumers spend more money than they had planned in stores, while only 25% reported online impulse shopping.

So how can a retail marketer entice the shopper (of any generation) into impulse buying?

Choose the right products.

Shoppers love to be surprised. Delight them with something cunning or cute. Provide solutions to little problems; anticipate what they might need. Display items in logical usage or occasion groups. Be thematic and dramatic; curate items in a lifestyle context.

Think seasonal. Think special occasion. Think gift (maybe for herself). And price it right so as not to exceed the shopper’s comfort threshold.

Put them in the right place.

The classic spot for impulse items is at the front of the store, leading to or at the register. It makes sense. When the shopper moves to the registers to pay, she has already made some selections. She’s primed and in the buying mood. So rather than a dreary, shuffling line, give her a mini gallery of “Hey, I didn’t think of that” items. (Sephora and Old Navy do a particularly great job with this.)

But what if there isn’t a cash register? What if sales associates use handheld devices to complete shopper transactions? Entirely possible, and becoming more likely each day. Shopper marketers must move impulse items from the front of the store and into the aisles. They should break up symmetrical, orderly departments with unexpected collections of “I didn’t know I needed this until I saw it” merchandise. Strategically placed sales tables, POP units, custom shelving, displays and more will add excitement to the aisle and help the shopper give in to her impulses.

Promote them well.

It is critical to quickly and clearly help the shopper see (and feel) the monetary and emotional value of an impulse item. Smart signage does that by anticipating and answering her questions. Signs will tell the shopper what she’s buying, why she must have it, and why she should give in and get it now. It is important that she gets the answers she needs in the moment; the stakes aren’t quite high enough for her to seek out an associate.

Clear, attention-grabbing signage will also communicate the urgency or exclusivity of promotions. Special deals, limited time offers, VIP discounts and bundled items will engage the shopper and help her justify her impulse purchase.

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