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Surprising Factors that Influence Consumer Purchasing Decisions

When shoppers feel pressure to purchase quickly, they tend to get tunnel vision and buy something without considering factors they normally would.

July 6, 2021

If you’re an avid budgeter or money-conscious spender, you may feel 100% in control of your cash. 

You might also be wrong about that feeling. 

Consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by a number of factors, some of which can subconsciously take the decision out of the buyer’s hands. 

Just because it can be difficult to control every factor that affects your spending doesn’t mean you need to ignore your intuition. Here’s how you can defend against everything from mood to relationship status that can influence the way you spend. 

Seasonal Spending

Seasonal extremes can bring on overspending – weather and seasons can be situational factors impacting consumer behavior. Chilly winter weather plus pricey holidays make winter the most significant spending season for most, with summer coming in a close second. 

Summer could mean more travel, outdoor activities or just a willingness to spend more. In a LendEDU survey, participants indicated that they anticipate spending more in the summer over all other seasons on anything from outdoor concert tickets to pricey wedding gifts. 

What can you do about it? 

Many people anticipate winter spending, like holiday gift giving. But, it’s likely not the same for the unexpected expenses that we wrack up in the summer. 

If warm weather tends to loosen your checkbook, consider creating a “Seasonal Slush Fund” in your budget. High temperatures and more activities might mean spending more, but you can save year-round for this seasonal fun. When you make a monthly budget, consider creating a category for summer spending, even if it’s pumpkin-spice season. That way, you’re less likely to accumulate debt if you naturally spend more during the hot months. 

Pressure to Buy

Whether it’s because we’ve reached the end of a toilet paper roll or we’re running out of milk, we’ve all experienced the mad dash to the corner store for a last-minute purchase. With a time crunch, you might end up running to the closest store to find the item you need without regard to price.  

Timing and the pressure that comes with it is one of the major factors that influence buying behavior. When shoppers feel pressure, internal or external, to purchase quickly, they tend to get tunnel vision and buy something without considering factors they normally would. 

While most of the time you may be a conscientious shopper at the grocery store, that may go out the window when you’re making cookies and realize you’re out of eggs and run to the store. Feeling the pressure, you may not do the same comparison shopping and merely reach for any eggs that will fit the need. 

What Can You Do About it?

We all forget things from time to time, so cut yourself some slack. However, the next time you start to feel pressure when you’re running out of toilet paper or forgot to buy more butter – take a deep breath. Slowing down and purchasing items mindfully may help you spend less overall. 

Mood and Money

Have you ever heard the advice, “Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry?” Well, according to research, you shouldn’t shop when you’re bored, sad or confident either. Among many different factors that influence consumer purchasing decisions, mood is one of the biggest.

In one study, participants who watched a sad video were willing to spend close to 300% more on an item than their counterparts who were shown a neutral video. When you’re feeling blue, retail therapy is a very real thing. 

On the flip side, shoppers who feel extra confident may extend that sense of well-being to their wallets and assume they have more to spend than they do.

What Can You Do About it?

Feeling particularly strong emotions on any end of the spectrum can lead to impulse sending. Instead of focusing on controlling your mood, consider curbing the impulse to spend in the here and now. Even allowing yourself a 24-hour pause on a purchase can help alleviate that tendency towards impulse.

Relationship Status

Single and saving? According to a study from the National Endowment for Financial Education, 7 out of 10 Americans say they spend more money when they’re in a relationship. This spending is more likely to impact younger consumers, and men are twice as likely to say they buy gifts for their partner frequently.

Whether it’s paying for dates, gifts for a special occasion or small token “just because,” some people spend more when love is in the air. 

What Can You Do About it?

Money is a tricky topic to tackle, but things like undisclosed debt and financial infidelity can shake the foundations of even the most solid couple.

Instead of overspending, it might be time to have the talk – the money talk. Talk to your partner about spending habits, budgeting and even debt. Depending on the status of your relationship, the depth of the conversation may vary, but putting it all out there can help alleviate the pressure to spend more to impress a beau.

Soundtrack to Spend By

Like that Top 40 earworm you heard in Home Depot and can’t get out of your head, the music you hear while you shop is one of the environmental influences on consumer behavior.

For example, one study showed that classical music could make shoppers spend more on an item. Something about the sophistication of classical music made shoppers feel that they could afford to pay a little more on a product than when they heard no music at all.  

Some sunny pop song won’t just put you in a good mood; it could also motivate you to make some impulsive buys. A 2005 study showed that shoppers spent $32.89 more, on average, on unexpected purchases when there was music piped into a store. 

What Can I Do About it?

Short of wearing earplugs the next time you go shopping, there’s not much the average shopper can do to avoid the shopping soundtrack. But just being aware of it could bring some mindfulness to your shopping experience. Do you really want that $40 candle, or are you just excited to hear the latest Ariana Grande single playing in your local Target?

We’ve all been there – spending far too much on the first pack of toilet paper we see or taking on debt when in a new relationship. A little awareness when shopping, though, can bring your thoughts into focus and remind you of what you’re shopping for and how much you can comfortably spend on the item.

With a tool like Tally, you can see the big picture of how much money you owe and start working on a goal to pay down your debt. So next time you’re about to be under the influence of a retailer’s scheme to part you from your money, you’ll be able to stop and think before you spend.