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Imagine you come across a product that seems to fit what you want, you can get it immediately, and it has a 100% guarantee, but isn't very 'big'.
In other words, the source seems trustworthy, the sales copy fits with what you are looking for, but you're just not sure.
Then you see the price, and think "Oh well, if THAT's all it costs, I'll give it a go" and you go ahead and buy it.
Give your answer in US dollars and, to give some basis for comparison, the country you are based in. I'll work out an average once we've got some data to chew on :) I'll start:
Maximum for an impulse buy: $7.95
My country: UK
However, the fact that the site offered a "no questions asked" return policy WAS the deciding factor. If I'd have risked being stuck with whatever I bought, I probably would have said no.
The main one is that I live in New Zealand. This means the majority of stuff I can buy from the internet is either from overseas or from a local company, and there just aren't many local ones around. In either case I wouldn't buy something cheap, because if it's international there are shipping charges and difficulties with returns, and if it's from a local site the chances are I can get it offline easily (mail order shopping via the internet in NZ isn't amazing as yet). I'm much too impatient to buy something small from the internet if I can walk into a shop, even if the internet gives me a two dollar saving.
Secondly I would need to pay by credit card, which I can never find. I have a tertiary account with my bank (no transaction fees) and eftpos is very wide spread in NZ, so I never use my credit card normally. So if I'm going to go to all the trouble of looking for it and checking it's balance then I want something worth more than a few dollars.
So my criteria for buying online are:
- worth at least NZ$25 (about US$12) - this would be my minimum
- if it's local I want to be saving money, probably at least 20% after shipping is included
- if it's international it should be something I can't buy here and worth the international shipping charges and wait
I'm aware that I'm odd and this isn't exactly an answer to the initial question. I just thought it might be interesting to someone that I actually have a minimum amount I would spend before buying online rather than a maximum. Also I do buy online fairly often, both locally and internationally, probably about once every two or three months on average.
£25 is usually shareware registration - in order for me to pay this I either;
+ need to have tried the software in question for a few weeks
+ need to believe that no superior free version is available in a suitable timeframe
For ~£10 I take less convincing, but I have to see the worth in what I'm buying (i.e. my K5 registration was cheaper than this, I believed in what they were offering and I wanted to give a little back to the community)
Online, since it takes time to actually *receive* a product, I very rarely impulse purchase.
Because for me, an impulse purchase is instant gratification. And if I have to wait 3 days to get the thing, it takes all of the 'impulse' out of the purchase.
In an offline situation I'd say $40 (US) is my limit. I base this on the 3 music CDs I wasn't planning to buy but walked out of the store with on Sunday afternoon.
[If I don't limit this soon, Amazon will make me broke! I'm becoming a Gold Box addict, and I will sometimes spend hundreds on an impulse buy.]
It's rarely an impulse buy, unless it's something techy/online.. a subscription to a service or something. Shipping costs, the risk of international mailing, CC fraud, etc, make 'physical product' impulse buys a rarity... it's more a case of a 'must have' that I just can't get here.
US $20 (NZ $40-45)
I have bought anywhere from a candy bar to a car based on impulse buy.
My most recent car purchase was an impulse buy (2001 Eclipse). A month ago, I was at BestBuy with my gf (went in there to buy a DVD...LOL), and we saw a cute Bose 1-2-3 system. It sounded really great for 3 speaker system, so I bought it. (that probably was one of the best impulse buy I've ever made). Today, I bought a pen at Target because it looked totally tart!
I am not loaded or anything, but within my expendible income range, if the price fits the value line, I am likely to go for it
(yes, I do have a lot of weird/useless stuff around my place...LOL)
Meaningless statistics time. Yum :)
Max: (excluding Agentsmith with outrageous impulse car purchase) $200 - thanks RCjordan
Min: $10 (US)
Mode (most common occurrence): $10 (US)
SO if we drop out rcjordan and agentsmith (sorry guys but you are officially outliers and totally screw our standard deviation)...
The best guess is that 10 of either dollars or pounds will allow shoppers to follow through on that impulse.
There you go, totally unscientific. Excellent.
P.S. My wife is a 6-sigma black belt statistician. You didn't really think I know all those big words did you?
You can not logic your way into the consumer heart. People are not rational. We like to think, but we're not. Most people buy things for emotional reasons and then, after the fact, figure out a logical explanation for their purchase decision
Too bad I missed this post when it first started. This is a very interesting and profound subject. You can not calculate what is the maximum impulse for given a individual at a given time.
Many times I myself bought things for no particular reason other than, I just felt like it. Why I felt like it? I had no idea. All I knew is that something (add text, packaging, shape or color of the product....) put me under a spell to buy it.
Once I virtually stalked one guy into selling me a piece of garbage, corroded to the last nut 94 Nissan Maxima. Once I saw it, I became obsessed with buying it. I spent more time fixing that car than driving it.
Only later I came to realize that the sole reason for me getting that 2-ton monument to my stupidity was :
" I my last year in high school I had a crush on a girl in my class. She was the most beautiful girl in the world for me. I was afraid to even look her way, forget about talking to her. One day I gathered all of my inner strength and actually asked her out. After she told me that she is seeing out with somebody I watched he walk across the street and get into the, you guessed it, black Nissan Maxima. Two weeks passed, I forgot all about that girl and found a new love of my next 1 month, but that long forgotten feeling which I had that mourning, hid somewhere in the dark tunnels of my memory only to surface when I had a chance to buy similar car."