Sunday, January 29, 2012

70% impulse purchase - no more.

70% of the brand decisions are made in the last mile - we have been following this "theory" for years and I have written plenty about it on this blog. Retailers and brands have taken it for granted that attractive presentation and packaging profoundly influence most shoppers’ purchasing decisions. 

While Paco Underhill in his bestseller Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, described supermarkets “as places of high impulse buying…. 60% to 70% of purchases there were unplanned, grocery industry studies have shown us.” These prompted retailers to devote ever growing resources to in-store promotion.

However, new(er) research by Wharton marketing professor David R. Bell differs with Underhill, describing the idea that most supermarket purchases are unplanned as something of an urban legend. In a new research paper, “Unplanned Category Purchase Incidence: Who Does It, How Often and Why,” Bell argues that the amount of unplanned buying is closer to 20%.

The above research is extremely significant and while I still believe that the "last mile is the new prime time" (when compared to the traditional TV prime time), there are a number of reasons for Prof. Bell's findings to be relevant today. One of the primary reasons is the emergence of the internet as the Zero Moment of Truth for brands and its impact on the First Moment of Truth in the store.

The shopper today walks into a store with far more per-purchase knowledge, recommendations & peer suggestions than was possible in the times when "Why we buy" was penned about 12 years ago. It is time to dump the 70% theory and focus on multichannel strategies and web-influenced retail sales.


Anonymous said...

Because of Time Poverty, purchases are more planned as people do not want to wander around a store, exploring it and looking for things to buy.Hence, impulse purchases at least for the grocery world is limited. The world of apparels and departmental stores though is slightly different and brands can still influence a person at the point of sale, though that is again on the decline.


Vijay Singh said...

Hi Snehamoy, seems logical that it should be higher in "experiential" categories like apparels. Will look out for more data on the same - including the impact of the online trade within the apparels biz. Great if you could share some.