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

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.e., it is impulsive; Beatty & Ferrell, 1998). The impulsive decision is often made after being exposed to the product for the first time and is mostly stimulus-driven (Rook & Fisher, 1995).

According to the Consumption Impulse Formation Enactment model (Dholakia, 2000), three antecedents form a consumption impulse: marketing stimuli (or external impulse trigger cues), a person's impulsivity trait, and situational factors. In e-commerce, because sales promotion is an important external stimulus to trigger impulse buying, e-marketers frequently implement promotional tactics to promote up- and cross-selling through featured products, price discounts, bonus packs, and other promotional offers (Dawson & Kim, 2009). In online shopping, it is very likely that a shopper has no knowledge of certain products and no explicit intention to buy them, but may very well buy them, having been stimulated by the terms of the deal (e.g., low price, bonus pack). The most typical example is Cyber Monday, when many shoppers visit e-retailers' websites in search of good deals without any thoughtful consideration of whether or not they really need the products. …

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