Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of Price Discounts and Bonus Packs on Online Impulse Buying

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of Price Discounts and Bonus Packs on Online Impulse Buying

Article excerpt

We investigated and compared the effects of 2 forms of sales promotion, namely, price discounts and bonus packs, on online impulse buying. Participants were 280 undergraduate business students at a Chinese university, who responded to a promotion on a mock website. Previous researchers have shown that bonus packs have a greater impact on offline impulse buying than do price discounts. However, our findings were different in the online impulse buying context, in which price discounts resulted in greater impulse buying intention than did bonus packs when the product was hedonic, and bonus packs were a more effective sales promotion than price discounts when the product was utilitarian. In addition, price discounts resulted in greater impulse buying intention than did bonus packs when the product was inexpensive, whereas bonus packs were a more effective sales promotion than were price discounts when the product was expensive.

Keywords: price discounts, bonus packs, online buying, online impulse buying, impulse buying, sales promotion.

Easy access to products, ease of purchase process, lack of social pressures, and absence of delivery efforts have resulted in online shoppers being more impulsive than offline shoppers (Jeffrey & Hodge, 2007). Recently, researchers found that almost 60% of online shoppers were impulsive (Dolliver, 2009), and Verhagen and van Dolen (2011) reported that impulse buying apparently occurs in about 40% of all online expenditure.

Because impulse buying behavior is primarily stimulus-driven (Rook & Fisher, 1995), e-marketers are increasingly implementing promotional campaigns that will be effective in triggering consumer impulse buying behavior (Zhang, Prybutok, & Koh, 2006). Because leading e-retailers realize that promotional strategies, such as featured products, sale products, and free gifts, greatly contribute to increasing sales and profits, they have, therefore, increased such stimuli on their websites. For example, the percentage of the top 100 e-retailers who offered an online outlet or clearance area increased by 10% in one year, and the percentage of those who offered a free gift with purchases increased by 9% (Loechner, 2009).

In the limited research on online impulse buying, scholars have paid attention to the environmental features of websites, such as media format (Adelaar, Chang, Lancendorfer, Lee, & Morimoto, 2003) and visual appeal (Zhang et al., 2006), and the effects of personal characteristics, such as consumers' gender, subjective norms, and impulsivity, on their online buying behavior (Jeffrey & Hodge, 2007).

In contrast, the vast majority of traditional marketing researchers of sales promotions have viewed consumers' decision making from the perspective of rational information processing. Researchers have examined the effect of sales promotions on brand loyalty, brand switching, purchase of nonpromoted products, purchase acceleration, product trials, and stockpiling (Gilbert & Jackaria, 2002). However, few researchers have investigated the effects of sales promotions on online buying behavior (Inman, McAlister, & Hoyer, 1990).

Our goal in this study was to fill this gap by (a) comparing the effects of different forms of sales promotion on online impulse buying behavior, by focusing on two ubiquitous sales promotion tools, namely price discounts and bonus packs; and (b) examining the moderating effects of product type and product base price.

Literature Review and Hypothesis Development

Impulse Buying and its Antecedents

Stern (1962) defined impulse buying as any purchase that a shopper makes that has not been planned. It is a sudden and immediate purchase, with no preshopping intention either to buy the specific product category or to fulfill a specific buying task (Beatty & Ferrell, 1998). The behavior occurs after the shopper experiences an urge to buy, and it tends to be spontaneous and without a lot of reflection (i. …

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