Have you ever really thought about how you make buying decisions? Most people probably regard themselves as pretty good consumers, especially when making a major purchase, such as a car, a stereo or a large appliance. But think about the little things you buy on a day-to-day basis. Most people, when making these decisions, are largely controlled by their impulses.
This is not by accident. Most professional marketing and advertising people, not to mention sales people, are keenly aware that buying decisions are largely based on emotion and not facts. They understand that the average consumer only wants one thing – to make a buying decision they won’t regret down the road. And while you might think that’s an analytical approach to making a purchase, it’s really more of an emotional need.
So how do you separate your emotional impulses from your buying decisions? It isn’t always easy. We are inundated with marketing every waking second of our lives, and most of it is geared toward appealing to your impulses. So the first strategy in avoiding impulse buying is to be constantly aware of how marketing affects your emotions.
Have you ever pulled into a fast-food restaurant, ordered, and then wondered, “Why am I eating this junk?” Have you bought something from the neighbor’s kid you really didn’t want out of a sense of guilt? Did you pay extra for the car with the cool sunroof, only to realize two years later that you almost never open it? And, of course, how often do you pick up items near the check out area at the grocery store?
If impulse buying is a problem for you, try following a few simple rules:
- Question every purchase. No matter how little it costs, ask yourself if you really need the purchase you’re considering. How will it enhance your life, if at all? Are you buying it just to “treat” yourself? If so, you probably don’t need it as much as you want to need it.
- Get in the habit of using cash. Sometimes making purchases with credit cards or checks feels like you’re not really spending your money. Even worse, with credit cards, every purchase means you have to pay interest and finance charges on top of the purchase price. Spending cash is less convenient and, therefore, not conducive to impulse buying.
- Shop with a purpose. Too many people view shopping as a form of recreation. If you need to go to a mall or grocery store, make a list of what you need before you go and stick to it.
- Don’t be suckered by sales and discounts. Companies use sales and coupons as a way to market products that people otherwise wouldn’t purchase. That could mean getting you to try a new product or buy extra. Or they’re trying to get rid of the junk they can’t sell at the regular price. So if the item on sale is junk, don’t be tempted just because it’s now “cheap” junk.
Overall, the key to avoiding impulses is developing some will power. Accept the fact that you’re always going to feel impulses, and it’s simple human nature to react to your emotions. However, you have the ability to deny those impulses and just say “No.”