An overview of the research on impulsive purchase
There are many researches have examined the impulsive purchase. Extensive research on impulsive purchase began in the early 1950s and pursued to study consumers’ purchase decision that are made after consumers enter a retailing environment (Rook 1987). The DuPont Consumer Buying Habits Studies (1948-1965) and studies sponsored by the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute (e.g. Patterson 1963) boosted the research of impulsive purchase during this period. Subsequently, numerous studies investigated unplanned buying from the angle of consumer behavior, psychological approach, economic models and social constructionist. This research stream will focus on the development of impulsive purchase’s definition, cause of the phenomenon, and theories on impulsive purchase. The frame of the research stream is shown in Fig 1.
Fig 1. The frame of the research stream
Definition of impulsive purchase
Impulsive purchase is first defined as an “unplanned” purchase by DuPont studies, the difference between a consumer’s total purchase and those were listed as intended purchase before entering a store (Rook 1987). Stern (1962) and Willett (1969) criticized that the definition of unplanned impulsive purchase is too vague and encompasses too many different types of behavior. Stern (1962) categorized impulsive purchase into four different kinds of buying, as shown in table 1.
Table 1. Topology of impulsive purchase (Stern, 1962)
|Classifications |Description | |Pure impulsive buying |It is most easily to distinguish pure impulsive buying which is truly impulsive | | |buying. | |Reminder impulsive buying |It occurs when a consumer sees a good and remembers that the stock is low or | | |exhausted, or recalls other information about the product and a previous decision to| | |buy. | |Suggestion impulsive buying |It occurs when a consumer sees a product for the first time and is aware of a need | | |for it. | |Planned impulsive buying |It occurs when a consumer enters a store to buy the goods which he or she plans to | | |buy, but with exception and intention to make other purchase decision because of | | |price cutting, coupon offers, and etc. |
Engel and Blackwell (1982) gave the definition of impulsive purchase that a buying action is undertaken by consumer without consciously recognizing a problem or forming a buying intention prior to entering the store. Iyer and Ahlawat (1986) summarized the difference between unplanned buying and impulsive purchase: all impulsive purchase is unplanned, and not all unplanned buying are necessarily impulsive purchase which is conducted on impulse. Rook (1987, P191) thought the term “impulsive buying” refers to a narrower and more specific range of phenomena than “unplanned purchasing” and re-defined impulsive purchase from the angle of psychology: Impulse buying occurs when a consumer experiences a sudden, often powerful and persistent urge to buy something immediately. The impulse to buy is hedonically complex and may simulate emotional conflict. Also, impulse buying is prone to occur with diminished regard for its consequences.
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