Impulse buying is a phenomenon that is widely recognized in the Western part of the world. It is defined as “any purchase which a shopper makes but has not planned in advance” ( But recently the researchers have extended the definition and included emotional element to this definition. And redefine it as “when a consumer experience a sudden, often powerful urge to buy something immediately (Rook 1987, Jalees 2008).This definition is further elaborated by Piron who proposed a comprehensive yet specific definition that included following components: the purchase is unplanned, it results from an exposure to stimuli, its decided on the spot, it involves cognitive/emotional reaction.

Classification of Impulse Buying

The impulse buying behavior is further classified into four types Pure; Suggestion; Reminder; and Planned. Pure impulse is defined as where the purchase is out of normal purchase behavior and is initiated by emotional appeal. Suggestion impulse buying occurs when the consumer sees the product visualizes an application and decides to purchase. Since the buyer has determine the rational purpose for the item, its not pure. Reminder impulse buying is made when a purchase is made based upon something reminding the consumer to make the purchase. Planned impulse buying occurs when the consumer buys a product based on price and/ or product specials.

There can be different factors for a particular consumer to behave impulse. Broadly these factors are grouped under two categories. One school believes that it’s based on the personal attributes and traits that shape the impulse buying behavior. Other is of the thought that socio-culture, over all environment of the store are linked closely to impulse buying decisions. Although they are not contrary to each other, rather present two different dimensions to look upon the issue.

Internal Factors/Personal Attributes

There are different traits that lead to impulse buying decisions, including culture, mood of a consumer, age, gender, income level etc.   

External Factors/ Environmental Factors

According to second school of thought, the presence of an enjoyable, pleasant and attractive in store shopping environment increases the chances of impulsive buying among consumers.

These factors can work as marketing cues or stimuli that are placed to lure customers such as promotional incentives. There can be an effect of retail store environment on consumer buying behavior. Such promotion can further be separated into two heads, the point-of-purchase promotions and the atmospheric effect. The point of purchase material can include from the in-store posters, banners, stickers that might be promoting discounts, deals or simply advertising the product information. Whereas the atmospheric effect encompasses the overall environment of store, density of store movement, cleanliness, eases of parking, convenience etc

All these factors have an affect on how a consumer will behave in a particular environment.  Therefore the marketers as well as the store owners shouldn’t know the demographics of the consumers they are targeting only but they should also make efforts to devise the overall environment of a store that will attract the consumer and uplift them emotionally, so that they may spend more than intended.


Impulse buying behavior (definition). Accessed on 13th November, 2009 from the web-site

Jalees, T. (2008) An empirical study of impulsive buying behavior in Pakistan Journal of independent studies and research, Volume:6 ,Number 2. Karachi, SZABIST-khi
Rook, D.W. (1987), “The buying impulse”, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol.     14, pp.189-99.

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