Four Reasons Every Business Should Sell Impulse Items

Impulse items are those products that result in unplanned purchases due to the purchaser picking them up, or deciding to buy them, right before the purchase is made.  A common example of impulse items is in retail where lower-dollar items such as candy, magazines, and drinks are displayed next to the cash registers on the way to the store exits.

The idea behind impulse purchases often result from emotions and feelings that arise when seeing a product.  If these products are displayed right before a customer is leaving the store, the customer will find themselves making an unplanned decision before leaving the store.

Impulse items work extremely well for many stores.  In fact, entire industries - convenience stores, vending machines, and dollar stores - have essentially been built off of these impulse products.

Impulse Items for Any Industry

What if there was a way to introduce an “impulse” product into your business, regardless of the industry? 

I don’t mean that your painting company would try to sell candy bars to the home owners.  What I mean is, why can’t a painting company develop a product that fits the  general criteria of an impulse item:

  • A lower-dollar product or service
  • A product that forces a quick decision
  • A product that triggers feelings and emotions
  • A product that many people would probably consumer anyway

Turning Any Product Into an Impulse Item

Creating an impulse item in many industries can be a challenging task.  But it can be done.

For example, how many times has Groupon sold vast amounts of a product because of the reduced cost and limited window to purchase that cost?  

So, a painting company could essentially offer an “impulse” item by offering a discount for a limited time.  Of course there are many ways an impulse item could be created, but Groupon is a fantastic example of how any industry could do this.

Reasons to Sell Impulse Items

Now, you might say that selling an item based on triggering emotions and feelings is unethical, or at least sleazy.  Sure, it could be, but that is not what I am talking about. 

I am referring to creating a product that a consumer would likely purchase any way and presenting it in a way that requires an unplanned decision.  At the end of the day, the purchase, if made, should be an absolute value for the customer.

Selling impulse items can be beneficial to your business for four main reasons:

  1. Customers Want to Buy.  If a customer comes to your business, they are naturally looking to see if there is something there to purchase that would benefit them.  They want to buy from you and sometimes impulse items give them the opportunity to do just that - even if they aren’t ready to buy one of your more premium products.
  2. It Starts The Customer Down The Sales Process.  A sales process should be designed to take a prospect down a path of becoming an ideal customer.  This is done by building trust, which means that you don’t try to sell your premium products to a prospect before they have come to trust your business.  An impulse item can be that first step.  Its the first purchase many prospects make and can help to get them comfortable with purchasing from your business.
  3. It Helps The Customer Decide.  Part of the psychology behind why impulse items are so effective is that the product actually forces an unexpected decision as to whether the prospect should purchase or not.  For example, a sale that is only available today forces a decision that may otherwise have been delayed indefinitely.
  4. Customers Need To Buy.  Today, consumers are bombarded with advertisements telling them to buy.  Any city street corner can easily have over a hundred signs, images, and advertisements all trying to get the attention of those passing by.  What happens is that consumers feel this constant pressure to buy something - a pressure that is not relieved until they actually purchase something.  An impulse item relieves this pressure.  If they don’t relieve this pressure in your store, they will do it somewhere else.

Now, I am not advocating that any business revise its business model to focus on selling impulse items.  What I am saying is that each business should consider incorporating some form of “impulse item” into the strategy of the business.

It doesn’t have to be candy.  And it shouldn’t be candy for most businesses.

The idea is to identify which products trigger an emotion or feeling and could be purchased if a decision came in front of a prospect.  Then, a business must determine how to offer this product or service in a way that requires a decision.

A Question to Consider

What businesses have you seen offer products in a way that bring a decision to purchase to the top of the prospects priority list?