We have all done impulsive buying, whether we have noticed the phenomenon or not. Impulse purchasing or buying happens when we shop for unplanned items. It happens at the spur of the moment.

Experts say various factors contribute towards our impulsive buying behavior. From psychological factors to marketing tricks, and from buying habits to scarcity, several factors play important role in shaping our impulsive buying behaviors.

All impulsive buying isn’t bad either. Sometimes we can make quick decisions to get items at bargain prices. However, more often we tend to regret our impulsive purchases later on.

We can work on our impulsive buying habits to keep things under control. It takes consistent effort and time to change buying behaviors.

Let us guide you on the impulsive buying behavior, common examples, and how to avoid these costly mistakes.

What is Impulsive Buying?

We can simply define impulsive buying is any purchase that isn’t pre-planned. It happens at the spur of the moment. When a buyer buys items that weren’t on the shopping list initially, it is called an impulse purchase.

Impulsive buying can be for regular and small priced items like groceries or as expensive as cars. The bigger the buying power, the pricier the impulse purchase. In that sense, it relates to everyone without depending on the income level of the buyers.

Impulsive buying is also a common phenomenon. In fact, a recent study shows, Americans are spending more on impulsive buying than earlier. It happens due to several factors. Most prominent being our psychological effect on our buying behaviors. We often enter a shopping mall for “window shopping” and end up buying several items that we never intended to earlier.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, we have all fallen prey to this trick used by marketers. Recall buying a “buy one get one” free promotion. Perhaps, you would’ve bought something for seasonal promotion or discount. Else, you would’ve bought something only because you could afford it. It gives us pleasure to make impulse purchases.

Impulse buying behaviors is commonly observed among all classes of society. It is also a common phenomenon in both genders. Both men and women do equally participation in impulse purchases.

Why do We Shop Impulsive?

So, if everyone is found guilty of impulsive buying irrespective of gender or buying power, then why do we do it?

The foremost reason we can think of is the buying habits. Marketers do trick customers too. They showcase items in a way that we feel like buying them anyway. Whether we do the impulse buying for the items we need or not is something debatable too.

Here are a few commonly observed factors that trigger our impulsive purchases.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors include our emotions, sense of pleasure, sense of fear, or falling victim of habits. Often, we take pride in spending personal finances with such impulse purchases as don’t think money spent this way is money lost.


Many people make impulse purchases to seek fun. It can be for little priced items like a cup of coffee or for a sports car. We seek pleasure with certain items such as buying a latest version of smartphone.

Buying Power

Like it or not, when we have money in our wallets, we tend to spend more money than normal. Buyers with significant buying power tend to fall prey to impulsive purchases. It doesn’t depend on the dollar figure with buying power, it remains another psychological factor.

Addiction of Habits

Habits once formed are difficult to change. Buying habits are even harder to resist. We all do shop for our favorite brands even if they come at higher prices. Similarly, we keep doing the impulse purchases without realizing it has formed into habits.

Promotions and Marketing

Sale discounts, promotions, and marketing ads trigger our impulsive buying heavily. We never notice the presentation of certain items and flooring plans. Marketers plan them well. We see certain products in the most sold items sections that don’t make sense, well they do now.

Common Examples of Impulsive Buying

There are several reasons for impulse purchases. It means there can be limitless examples of impulsive buying as well. However, we can observe around ourselves for some commonly purchased items as impulse purchases.

Here are a few common categories for impulse purchases.

Clothing and Apparel

Discounts and the latest fashion series are the biggest red flags for impulsive buyers in clothing section. Clothing and apparel sections see the most significant impulse purchases. The biggest reason being the trend following and seasonal sales.


Food items and groceries are the most tempting items anyway. It’s hard to resist the temptation when food items or groceries are offered in bundles and discounts. These are the widely sold items to impulse buyers, that often set you out of budgets.

Fast Food

We can all brew our cup of coffee or make a sandwich at home, but we often tempt to buy through our favorite fast-food chain. That’s exactly what impulsive buying is. Fast food items get heavier on our budgets as well as our health. Yet these are prominent impulse purchases everywhere.

Home Decor

Home decor items are bought for pleasure and satisfaction than needs. These are our wants that we wish to fulfill every now and then. Decoration items such as paintings, rugs, expensive clocks, and vases are all common examples of impulse purchases.

Tech Gadgets

Tech gadgets have a tendency of upgradation and continuation. We can’t keep up with the pace of tech development. Yet we see many people falling prey to following the latest tech gadgets at higher prices.

All tech gadgets lose the price tag after a while. It’s easier to avoid these expensive impulsive purchases if you can control the temptation.

Software and Apps

It is another modern phenomenon when it comes to impulse purchases. Like updating our tech gadgets, we tend to upgrade the latest versions of software and applications as well. Although some purchases in software category are inevitable.

Online Subscriptions

Have you ever noticed you have been paying for online newspaper, magazine, or journal subscriptions that you haven’t used for a long time?

Many people intend to subscribe to such online services for a fraction of price. However, these subscriptions accumulate significantly in the long run.

Impulsive Buying for Expensive Items

Impulsive purchases do not happen for necessities always. Consumers with bigger buying powers can develop this habit for expensive items as well. For example, a large chunk of fashion jewelry is sold as impulse buying.

Similarly, well-off people find attraction in buying expensive gadgets such as luxury cars, sports vehicles, boats, apartments, and land. Many of these purchases happen spontaneously.

The fundamental definition of impulsive purchasing in unplanned buying. It does not relate to the income level of the consumer. People with luxurious lifestyle tend to buy spontaneously more often though.

How to Avoid Impulsive Buying?

Impulsive buying is habitual, it is concerned more with habits than financials. These habits can prove expensive in the long run. We can all work to develop our habits differently.

Here are a few tips to control impulsive buying.

Plan your Shopping

If you plan for shopping, you’ll reduce chances of spontaneous purchases. Impulsive buying is all unplanned shopping. As we said, it is more of a habit than necessity. It will take you time to ratify the habits.

Consistently push yourself to do planned shopping every time. It will help you resist the impulsive purchases.

Make a Budget – and Stick to it

Budgets are financial organizers. You can spend on anything without creating budgets. Create budgets for achieving your financial goals. Budgets will help you control the impulsive purchases significantly. Importantly, you must stick to budgets.

Unsubscribe to Promotional Emails

Promotional emails are an effective tool for marketers. Emails still have the highest conversion rates in the marketing tools. It’s easier to click on the promotional links and buy items you never planned.

Unsubscribe to such marketing emails for the latest gadgets, apps, software, or even fashion brands.

Resist the Temptation of buying on Discounts

Discounts and promotions are set to lure in the customers. Like it or not, we all fell prey to the marketing tactics. It’s hard to change these habits in a day, but we can all mend our habits a bit.

Keep your shopping organized with budgets and pre-planning. It will help you to resist the promotions for unwanted items.

Stop Chasing Tech Gadgets

One of the most common reasons of the modern-day buying behaviors is to follow the trends. Tech gadgets are a prime example of following the trends these days. If you can build the habit of finding utility in tech gadgets rather than luxury, you’ll break the habit of impulsive purchasing.

Follow the Financial Goals

Following the financial goals is harder than setting ones. Keep your financial objectives in mind whenever you go for shopping. It will help you stay focused and avoid the costly impulsive purchases.

Impulsive buying is more of a habit than necessity. It follows our emotions and old habits. For many of us, it can be the reason to our failures of financial independence. We can avoid the costly mistakes of impulsive buying with proper planning and devotion.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as investment advice for anyone. All information discussed is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The views presented today are those of WealthCare Financial and do not necessarily represent the views of AlphaStar Capital Management, LLC. The opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and do not constitute financial, legal or tax advice. Please consult your financial professional before executing any financial strategy.  Investment Advisory and financial planning services are offered through AlphaStar Capital Management, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. AlphaStar and WealthCare Financial are independent entities

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