Sunday, June 7, 2009

Facts About Impulse Buying - Consider this when drafting your ads

By Vickie Champion

Debbie was called into the boss’s office Thursday and berated for something she didn’t do. She stewed all day, thinking about how her promotion was now in jeopardy. At 5 p.m., she grabbed her purse and headed for the mall. Debbie thought she needed a little retail therapy.

And why not? She was innocent after all. And the smell of leather from a fine pair of shoes has the power to comfort and soothe, the way Debbie supposed fresh baked goods could for other people.

The following morning, the shoes still in the box, she couldn’t help but regret her impulse shopping spree. Deep down, Debbie felt guilty.

It’s not what you do that’s important, it’s what you’re thinking when you do it that matters. If Debbie had thought about buying the shoes and saved for them, she most likely would have happily worn them at work the next day. Instead, her guilty pleasure sat untouched because her binge purchase was to alleviate stress.

Below are five facts about impulse buying that once realized could change your life:

1. By definition an “impulse” means unplanned, hasty and thoughtless. When we spontaneously buy something, most of us mistakenly believe we are in control. But in truth, we’re acting without thinking about it or the long term consequences. The mere ability to purchase something with cash, a charge card or credit card, doesn’t mean we are in control or have regained a sense of power we fear we have lost.

2. Anger, stress, guilt or boredom is usually what drives an impulse purchase. It’s true that buying things can put us in a better mood. But the high lasts only a short time and doesn’t address the reason we needed a quick fix in the first place. The pleasure Debbie felt from her pricey shoes only masked her anger and frustration at her work situation – it didn’t erase it or resolve it.

3. The positive effects of an impulse buy are replaced by guilt and possibly worse. A client of mine timed how long the good feelings lasted: 18 minutes. After that, guilt began to creep in. As soon as you think, “I shouldn’t have done that,” you know you made an impulse buy. By the time Debbie got home with her new purchase, the positive feelings had been replaced by negative ones. Guilt is bad enough, but others may also have to deal with the repercussions of mounting debt.

4. Impulse buying “nickel and dimes” us out of our dreams. Instead of saving for what Debbie really wanted – down payment on a house, a new car, a vacation to Hawaii – she relieved her stress with binges at the mall.

5. There are three easy ways to avoid or handle an impulse buy.
First, recognize that you have a choice. You can choose a quick fix to a temporary problem or you can choose to pursue your lifelong dream instead.

Second, wait! Before you buy, take three deep breaths. This simple exercise helps to release the immediate emotion. If you are already at your shopping destination before you calm down, take a little extra time to compare items. You may find that you simply don’t want to and go home. Or tell yourself that you can come back that the next day and buy the item. This will help you gauge whether you really want it. Had Debbie waited until the next day, she would have found that she didn’t want the shoes after all.

Third, learn to take it back. If you went ahead and bought something, and the thrill is now gone, take it back. You don’t have to live with the guilt forever. Because Debbie felt remorseful the next day, she returned the shoes.

Rather than heading to the nearest mall the next time Debbie is angry, frustrated, sad or bored she will release her emotions with some deep breaths, taking time to listen and trust her intuition.

Resisting the urge to impulse buy is one of the best things you can do for your wallet, but also for yourself. In doing so, you build your self-esteem in a way that no shoes could ever do!

Author's Bio
Vickie Champion is a business/life coach and speaker committed to helping people listen and trust their intuition and achieve their dreams. She has coached as many as 54 concurrent clients on a one-to-one basis and has given over 750 classes and workshops. For more information visit her at or call her at (602) 249-1912.

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