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The 'impulse buy' is dying

05 March 2018

The 'impulse buy' is dying

New research from Salmat finds that Aussie shoppers are savvy bargain hunters

Australia, embargoed 05 March 2018: Despite the joys of shopping, leading marketing services company
Salmat has unveiled new research which found ‘impulse buying’ is slowing. Instead, shoppers are proving to be keen bargain hunters that do their research and stick to a strict budget – regardless of their disposable income levels. The research also found that despite the growth in online shopping options, consumers on average, across different product categories, still prefer to shop in-store (49%).

The ‘impulse buy’ is dying

In the second annual Salmat Marketing Report (SMR) - which looks into consumers’ habits in regards to retail – nearly half of consumers surveyed (43%) ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ go shopping just for fun. Further, one in three (36%) consumers also say they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ make impulse buys. It’s not even a gender thing, with an almost equal split between men and women. 

As we get older, this trend is even more prevalent with only a fraction (5%) of over 55s making impulse buys on a regular basis, most likely because of budget constraints with 40% stating they have a low household income (under $40K).  Interestingly, those with children at home are the ones more likely to regularly impulse buy (37%) and go shopping just for fun (40%).

Aussies like to do their research to find the best deal

The research found that Aussie consumers are extremely price sensitive, with cost being the biggest influence on purchases for four in five (83%) consumers. When it comes to shopping, Aussie’s also follow a strict shopping regime - they do their research on products and price, and have a budget. Surprisingly, people with more disposable income are more likely to go online to research product information, compare prices and find the best deal (59%), compared to low income earners (30%), and people with children at home (56%).

Dan Salter, Salmat’s retail business consultant, said: “Aussie shoppers are becoming more and more sensitive to price, regardless of disposable income. The current price wars amongst retailers, spurred on by the arrival of Amazon, means that we are spoilt for choice and the Internet has made it so easy to research and buy products and services. If the same product is easily accessible and at a lower price – why wouldn’t shoppers go with that option?”

So how can shoppers ensure they snag a bargain? Salter says that catalogues are still a great way to find a good deal. 

“Catalogues generally offer highly competitive pricing on bigger ticket items. With most of us now owning a smartphone, it's never been easier for savvy shoppers to compare prices online via websites and online aggregators like Lasoo. In fact, our research found that a third (33%) of consumers use letterbox and online catalogues to inform their purchase decisions. If time is not an issue, shoppers can always wait for sales periods to make purchases,” he said.

Old habits are hard to break - bricks and mortar trumps online

Despite the ever-increasing web and mobile shopping options, on average across different product categories, almost half (49%) of Australian consumers still prefer to shop in-store. This is a trend is consistent with consumers globally. Even when we look at markets like the US, where online services such as Amazon have been in the market for years, consumers generally prefer to shop in-store. Interestingly, the only category where Aussie consumers prefer to shop online is travel products and services (59% vs. 19%). 

However, online is still a  popular option. On average, across different categories, almost one third of consumers surveyed (32%) said that it is their preferred method for buying because it saves money (54%), it's convenient (50%) and saves time (49%). 
Salter said: “Shoppers still prefer bricks and mortar shopping over ecommerce as it enables them to see and feel the product prior to purchase, plus it’s immediate, and convenient to shop local. However, marketers should not forget many consumers will do their due diligence by researching a product online to compare prices, get customer reviews or source information about a product’s features,” he said.

Commenting on the overall findings of the report, consumer behavior expert, Associate Professor Gary Mortimer of QUT Business School, said: “The report highlights a growing disconnect between what marketers ‘think’ consumers are doing, and what they are ‘actually’ doing – a case of perception and reality. Marketers and retailers who perceive consumers as impulsive purchasers who buy more then they plan, should realise that in reality, Australian shoppers are savvy and undertake extensive research prior to purchase. The take away is that consumers shop with purpose and for marketers and retailers to win customers and stay competitive they will need to develop stronger engagement strategies and more innovative ways to cultivate both behavioral and attitudinal loyalty if they are going to loosen an Aussie shoppers’ purse strings.”


Supporting assets needed:
A consumer shopping behaviour expert to be an additional spokesperson
Aussie shopper case studies for interview that can discuss their behaviour, particularly around the way they research and buy products 
Tie the release to a big consumer day (eg. Valentine's Day and their shopping behaviours)
For further information please contact:
Ellen McIver
Account Executive, WE Buchan 
M: +61 414 137 686

Shane McClelland
Senior Manager - Corporate Communications
M: +61 423 603 105

About the research
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov. Salmat commissioned YouGov to conduct an online survey between 13th October- 3rd November 2017. The sample size was 504 Australian marketing decision makers (from organisations with 25 employees or more), and 563 Australian consumers. The consumer sample figures have been weighted and are representative of all Australian adults (aged 18+). 

About Salmat
Salmat is a leading Australian marketing services business. We partner with our clients to help them with the constant pressure of acquiring and servicing their customers, week-in, week-out. With media, digital and contact capabilities, we have the right solutions for our clients, enabling them to Reach, Convert and Serve more customers.

Founded in 1979, Salmat has evolved from a small letterbox distribution business to an ASX-listed company. With a talented team across four countries we work with some of Australia’s most recognised and trusted brands to manage billions of customer interactions every year.

Reach:  We offer the broadest reach media (online & offline), with the ability to target individuals and up to 17 million people.   Convert:  We deliver conversion across multiple channels, creating more opportunities for our client’s customers to buy   Serve: We make every one of our client’s interaction count online and offline.

About Associate Professor Mortimer
Associate Professor Gary Mortimer is an academic researcher and commentator in the areas of retailing and shopping behaviour. Prior to joining the Queensland University of Technology Business School in 2010, he spent over 25 years working with some of Australia’s largest apparel, general merchandise and food retailers, has published and presented over 30 academic manuscripts and produced industry reports for major Australian retailers and retail associations. Considered one of Australia’s leading retail experts, Associate Professor Mortimer is a regular commentator across industry press, newspapers, current affairs, television news and radio. 

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