Every time we make a purchase, we are going through a journey of choices. There are reasons why we buy the things we do and how we decide between one product or another. We choose where to shop from, and at what time we do it. We ask for recommendations or we could simply try something new. We sometimes follow what family and friends do or decide to go completely different.
Our motivation to acquire, come firstly from our needs and wants. These needs and wants are driven by biogenic or psychogenic drives and motivated by affective or cognitive motives. Biogenic means physiological, while psychogenic is based on your social, environmental and psychological needs. Affective is the emotional motivation, while cognitive is your rational motivation.
Therefore every time we purchase something we go through different stages of a decision making process. We recognise the need, for example the need to buy new clothes. Search for product information. In the case of clothes, you go to the shops or online to check the different styles. We evaluate the product, the price you want to pay and the quality you want to buy. Then you choose the product and make the purchase, for example a leather jacket affordable to you. The process does not end at the purchase. Once you bought the jacket you want to use and evaluate the product again. Did you get what you needed and wanted? There is also the disposal of the product. Did you like the jacket, do you want to upgrade it to a coat or do you want to give it away or re sell it?
Not for all products we have to necessarily go through all these stages, much depends if the product is an impulse product or a high impact product.
You probably do not give it much taught when you are buying a packet of chewing gum or mints. You feel like something fresh and tasty, or you probably just saw the packet while cashing out at the shop, and even if you do not intend to consume it now, you still grab it, pay and go. Therefore you have skipped the first three stages of the decision making process and bought the product on impulse.
This is also because impulse buying, is of low involvement, normally inexpensive and of a lower risk for the consumer. For example if you do not like the taste of the packet of chewing gum or mints you just bought, it is no big deal. They would have not costed much and therefore you are not losing much if you end up throwing them away.
Sometimes we buy a product out of habit. Like for example you always order a “Fanta” with your meals, without thinking of other options. This is routine response behaviour, buying a low involvement product with limited information or based on past information. If then the “Fanta” is flat, well it is not the end of the world.
Whilst high-involvement products have higher risks for the consumer. For example, buying a property, there is a large payment to make, therefore you do not want to make rushed decisions. This is not something you buy often hence you do not engage in a routine response behaviour, but you go through what is called an extended problem solving behaviour. You spend time comparing the location of the property, the layout, the finishes , etc. You also need to involve professionals to complete the purchase, such as a notary to do all the researches and the architect to check the permits and property valuation , etc. With the information given by the architect, the notary and maybe the real estate agent, the consumer has more information and therefore now he/she has limited problem solving. Therefore in a much better position to take a decision.
As we have seen, the difference between the impulse product and the high involvement product, is the interest and the importance the purchase is to you based on the calculated risk you are taking.