An Exploration of Taiwanese Adolescents' Impulsive Buying Tendency

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Marketers have recognized the significance of impulsive buying. Retailers are continually trying to increase the number of impulsive purchases through product displays and store and package designs (Hoyer & MacInnis, 1997; Jones et al., 2003). In addition, contemporary marketing innovations, for example, 24-hour convenience stores, television shopping channels, and internet shopping, expand impulsive buying opportunities (Kacen & Lee, 2002).

Research on impulsive buying has increased during the last decade (Rook & Fisher, 1995; Rook & Gardner, 1993). Impulsive buying is defined as "an unplanned purchase" that is characterized by "relatively rapid decision-making, and a subjective bias toward immediate possession" (Rock & Gardner, 1993, p. 3). It is described as more arousing, unintended, less deliberate, and more irresistible buying behavior as compared to planned buying behavior (Rook, 1987; Rook & Fisher, 1995; Rook & Hoch, 1985). Further, higher impulsive buyers are likely to be unreflective, to be emotionally attracted to the object, and to desire immediate gratification (Hoch & Loewenstein, 1991; Thompson et al., 1990).

Consistent with research on impulsiveness in the psychology literature, recent studies in marketing assert that the impulsive buying tendency is a distinctive personal trait (Beatty & Ferrell, 1998; Puri, 1996; Rook & Fisher, 1995). For example, Rook and Fisher (1995, p. 306) suggest that "individuals' impulsive buying tendencies can be conceptualized as a consumer trait." Based upon the research literature (e.g., Beatty & Ferrell, 1998; Purl, 1996; Rook & Fisher, 1995; Rook & Gardner, 1993), impulsive buying tendency can be defined as the degree to which an individual is likely to make unintended, immediate, and unreflective purchases. Furthermore, several scales have been developed to measure this tendency (e.g., Puri, 1996; Rook & Fisher, 1995; Rook & Gardner, 1993; Weun et al., 1998).

For adolescents, impulsive behavior has generally been viewed as counterproductive, and individual differences in impulsiveness were found to be related to a number of socially relevant behaviors, including aggression (Stanford et al., 1995), drug use (Stanford et al., 1996), pregnancy (Jones & Philiber, 1983) and HIV risk-related sexual behavior (Clift et al., 1993). However, in spite of this significant relationship, impulsive buying among adolescents remains relatively unexplored. Compounding the problem, adolescents are being more heavily targeted because of their increased spending potential (Simpson et al., 1998). Further, they are considered to be consumers who are not likely to be well informed, to comparison shop, or seek advice about their purchases (Jones et al., 2003).

Studies have emphasized that a variety of factors affect impulsive buying, including the consumer's mood or emotional state (Rook, 1987; Rook & Gardner, 1993), self-identity (Dittmar et al., 1995), and personal characteristics, in particular "age" (e.g., Bellenger et al., 1978; Wood, 1998). Wood (1998) found a non-linear relationship between age and impulsive buying in his United States adult sample. The relationship suggested that impulsive buying should increase slightly from ages 18 to 39, and decline thereafter. This is somewhat consistent with the finding of Bellenger et al. (1978) who noted that shoppers under age 35 were more prone to impulsive buying than those who are older. Also, studies on impulsiveness indicate that young persons score higher on measures of impulsiveness than do older people (Eysenck et al., 1985; Helmets et al., 1995; Rawlings et al., 1995). However, most of those studies were conducted with adult samples. For adolescents, variation in impulsiveness by age may be larger than for adults, since the adolescent development stage is noted for impulsivity (Kahn et al., 2002). However, investigation of impulsive buying by adolescents of different ages would be a valuable contribution to the literature. …