Academic journal article International Management Review

Influential Factors for Online Impulse Buying in China: A Model and Its Empirical Analysis

Academic journal article International Management Review

Influential Factors for Online Impulse Buying in China: A Model and Its Empirical Analysis

Article excerpt


With the popularity of the Internet, online shopping has become pervasive in the day-to-day lives of the Chinese. Online impulse buying is further triggered by easy access to products, fast purchase process, lack of social pressure, and absence of the need to hand-carry products on the part of the consumer (S.A. Jeffrey, R. Hodge, 2007). An understanding of the consumer buying behavior is vital for e-commerce practitioners, so the nature of such an online buying behavior should be explored (Tibert Verhagen, Willemijn van Dolen, 2011). The online context is highly susceptible to non-rational purchases, such as impulse buying, unplanned purchases, compulsory purchases, and the herd phenomenon. All of these can be largely attributed to physiological limits, the deterministic environment, personal preferences, and background effects. While plenty of research indulged in traditional consumer purchase model that involves ideal buying conditions (rational, information completed) does not always occur in online stores. Surprisingly, research on the factors that influence impulse buying in an online context remains limited. Existing studies have not considered customers' non-rational behavior, which leads to their impulse buying.

The goal of our research consists in analyzing the relationship among the influential factors, internal states and buying behavior in the online context. After a survey of relevant research involved in impulse buying and influential factors to impulsive buying, this study summarizes the factors that influence online impulse purchases in relation to real-world online shopping processes. Based on the Cognition Emotion Theory, an online impulse buying model is constructed, and then research hypotheses are developed. Through empirical analysis, the study verifies and modifies the structural model, which shows the relationship among the identified factors, internal states and online impulse buying behavior. Finally, further discussions are made on the basis of the results.

Theoretical Background

Impulse buying

Traditional theories on consumer purchase decisions purport that consumers possess sufficient information to select and implement the best option. However, such a concept is limited in consideration of actual conditions. Prior to 1982, the definitions of impulse buying focused on the product rather than the consumer as the motivator of impulse purchases. Katona and Muller (1955) regard impulse buying as an unplanned action that occurs after consumers have entered a shopping center. By contrast, Nesbitt (1959) regards impulse buying as a rational action because it is confirmed after consumers have entered a shopping center. Stern (1962) provides a basic definition of impulse buying behavior, which classifies the act as planned, unplanned, or based on impulse. According to this categorization, planned buying behavior involves a time-consuming search for information, followed by rational decision making (Piron, 1991; Stern, 1962). Unplanned buying refers to all purchases made without planning and includes impulse buying, which is characterized by the relative speed with which buying "decisions" occur. After 1982, when researchers began to re-focus their attention on impulse buying behavior, they started to investigate the behavioral dimensions of impulse buying. Researchers then agreed that impulse buying involves a hedonic or affective component (Cobb & Hoyer, 1986; Piron, 1991; Rook, 1987; Rook & Fisher, 1995; Weinberg & Gottwald, 1982). Rook (1987) reports accounts by consumers who felt that a product was "calling" them, almost demanding that they purchase it. These consumers indicated that a sudden, often powerful and persistent urge to buy something, immediately formed behavioral elements that led to their impulse buying.

A definite concept of impulse buying remains lacking because it involves complex mental processes and emotional states. However, relevant studies imply that impulse buying involves two principles. …

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