Impulse buying is simply defined as making an unplanned purchase. This can be an extra pack of hobnobs when visiting Tesco’s or buying a new hi-fi on a whim. Most of us are guilty of this at one time or another. Even though the term is simple, it probably accounts for the majority of money problems family’s have. The experts will tell us that planning a purchase of any kind is absolutely necessary if you intend to use your money wisely. But surely no one would ever buy a “big ticket” item like a new car on impulse? Buying a car without prior planning can work out to be very expensive. Besides the obvious things like finding the best purchase price, interest rate and deposit you need time (and research!) to decide which car is right for your family. If you end up in the wrong car, as we’ve written about many times before, it can be very expensive to get out of and into the right car. In the trade customers who do this are referred to as having “blown their brains out” for good reason. In financial terms it can be catastrophic.
But believe it or not cars are being bought up and down the country, every day on impulse and the purchasers left to rue what can be at times a very costly mistake.
If you are prone to impulse buying and are in the market for a new car the following paragraph may just save you a lot of money and heartache.
If you’re out “window shopping” for cars and you see something you like and start to get that familiar feeling in your stomach, leave the showroom without it. Don’t let the salesperson talk you into anything because you will be emitting buying signals all over the place and like a hungry wild animal they will pick up your scent. Get out of there immediately! Remember you are a salesperson’s dream you already want the car, it’s giving you butterflies so taking your money will be like taking candy from a baby. Go home and look at the finances, research the bejesus out of the car that gave you the butterflies. Make sure it’s right for you as it will still be there next week and if it isn’t at least you now know it’s the right car and you’ll know what you’re looking for. The next, vitally important step, is to test drive it and then if you feel you can afford it and it is still the right car for you and your family, if you have one, then go back in and do the deal.
Phew! OK you know what to do and what not to do if you are prone to impulse buying and are in the market for a new car but what’s the science behind it? Why do some people get tunnel vision and just want to buy, buy, buy and worry about everything else later?
In dictionary definition terms an impulse purchase or impulse buy is an unplanned or otherwise spontaneous purchase. One who tends to make such purchases is referred to as an impulse purchaser or impulse buyer (or “salespersons dream” of course).
Marketers and retailers will exploit these “impulses” which are tied to the basic want for instant gratification. For example, a shopper in a supermarket might not specifically be shopping for confectionary but chocolate, gum, and mints are always prominently displayed at the checkout aisles to trigger impulse buyers to buy what they might not have otherwise considered.
Cars in particular are as much an emotional purchase as a rational one. Car dealers all over the world know this so market their products in a manner designed to appeal to emotion over reason.
As Wikipedia puts it; “Impulse buying disrupts the normal decision making process in a consumers’ brain. The logical sequence of the consumers’ actions is replaced with an irrational moment of self gratification. Impulse items appeal to the emotional side of consumers.”
I think the upshot is impulse buying is probably not a good thing and especially when it comes to cars!