Impulse buying is a tendency to purchase products without planning ahead that happens thanks to a well-developed promotional message. Impulse buyers purchase items spontaneously because they rely on sensations that urge the necessity to buy.

In this article, we’ll review the psychology of impulse buying, go over several ways to increase impulse buying online, and unveil the most popular impulse purchases.

The Psychology of Impulse Buying

Statistics show that the number of spontaneous purchases is increasing every year. Whether it is the influence of online stores, paid advertising on various platforms, or people’s urge to feel happy and excited, the number of impulse buys just keeps growing. An average American makes around 12 unplanned purchases per month. Moreover, 62% of respondents affirm that they feel happy after this kind of shopping. So, it’s time to figure out why impulse buying is so widespread.

The psychology of impulse purchases is quite simple — they are often caused by market-related stimuli and external triggers. Huge discounts and attractive offers, including the BOGO (buy one, get one free) campaigns, are the most powerful causes of unplanned purchases. Marketing strategies provoke the urge to buy and elicit positive emotions and satisfaction, as customers feel they bought some products at a reduced price. This kind of shopping is the easiest way to get dopamine here and now.

Since people don’t resort to rational decision-making during impulse buying, which is typical for planned purchases, discounts appeal to the emotional side of shopping. Impulse buyers are guided by emotions and unique experiences and sensations that emerge while shopping.

Now that you know how impulse buying works, it’s time to discover the ways to drive impulse purchases online.

7 Ways to Increase Impulse Buying Online

  • Consider upselling
  • Implement time-limited offers
  • Create engaging email campaigns
  • Conduct a giveaway
  • Offer free delivery
  • Leverage social listening tools
  • Use social media tools

Discounts, upselling, excellent promotional campaigns across different channels, social media tags — these are only a few of the tactics you can implement to hook your target audience and expand your reach. You can make your company attractive to impulse buyers in a number of ways. We’ll review different strategies brands use to encourage unplanned purchases.

  • Consider upselling. You can encourage your prospects and existing customers to make an unplanned purchase. During the checkout, recommend relevant products that might be useful. Apart from that, offer the "Frequently bought together" discounts for product bundles. This way, you’ll be able to upsell some additional items and evoke the fear of missing out.
  • Implement time-limited offers. Time-limited discounts, special deals, gifts, rewards, and free delivery work like a charm on users who purchase online. You need to provide customers with a reason to buy right now and drive urgency. When a discount or special deal is bound by time, you can trigger the fear of missing out. This way, your prospects or loyal clients will definitely make a purchase.
  • Create engaging email campaigns. Email marketing is an effective marketing channel that helps communicate your message to subscribers. To encourage consumers to make impulse purchases, make an attractive offer. Users often seek promo codes and discounts before making any buys online. That’s why you need to interest your target audience with a good discount or a promo code. Send an email campaign to your subscribers, tell them about a sale, and mention a promo code that will reduce the price. SendPulse’s bulk email service allows you to do it for free.
  • Conduct a giveaway. A giveaway is a wonderful strategy for two brands that share similar audiences. With your giveaway partner, you’ll be able to encourage purchases not only from people who land on your site but also leads from the other brand’s following. By running a giveaway and providing special offers, you can expand your reach fast and get new customers as a result.
  • Offer free delivery. According to statistics, 94% of people are more willing to buy if the delivery is free. One in four respondents expects online brands to have free delivery, so it's a great way to increase impulse purchases online. You can provide free delivery if a customer spends a certain amount of money on their order. This way, people will gladly add some more items to their carts to avoid paying an additional fee.
  • Leverage social listening tools. With social listening tools and social media search, you can easily find potential customers whose needs aren’t met yet. If you have a great offer for this person, then you need to establish interaction. Consider using social listening platforms like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, or BuzzSumo to do it.
  • Use social media tools. Word-of-mouth promotion works smoothly when we talk about impulse buys. Once people hear about discounts, limited-time offers, BOGO (Buy one, get one free), and specials from bloggers, they instantly look up the site and the products it offers. So, it’s also a great idea to use social media and its tools. You can ask an opinion leader to promote your sale and give the link to your company website. Consider influencer marketing to make sure that more people know about your brand and discounts and make more impulse purchases.

Now that you know these marketing techniques, it’s time to delve into the most popular impulse buys.

Since the logic of impulse purchases thrives on emotional decision-making and sensations, this is an effective way to sell huge quantities of products. Try our approaches to reach out to your target audience and hook them, expanding your sales volume. We’ve prepared the five most popular unplanned purchases people make — they will help you decide on the products you can promote.


Clothes are at the top of our list of impulse buys — they constitute more than half of all impulse purchases. When people make unplanned visits to stores or search for specific items online, they can encounter discounts. What can be more tempting than a sweater with a 40% discount, a new pair of jeans and a T-shirt for free, or free delivery? Customers often can’t resist even when these products are not on their shopping lists.

Below you can see an example from Motel Rocks. Anyone who lands on the brand’s website would surely like to explore items with an 80% discount.

Impulse purchase

Food & Grocery

The essential thing for our living is food. Customers visit grocery stores every day and make many unplanned supermarket purchases, which makes food another top-selling impulse buy. The desire to buy increases when a hungry customer sees discounts and red price tags. They drive the urge to buy and satisfy customers' needs in food or sensations.

Impulse purchase


Even if customers already have shoes for all seasons, they won’t miss a chance to grab an additional pair of Nikes or Pumas at an attractive price. That’s why shoes are among our five most popular impulse purchases. Sporty, elegant, comfy, and original shoes are united by people’s strive to look good and find great discounts.

For example, Puma entices customers with Black Friday deals.

Impulse purchase

Beauty & Personal Care Products

Beauty products are also in high demand, which is why you can encounter personal care items in impulse shoppers' carts. Customers might be attracted by the miraculous benefits of the products, their price, ads, or beautiful packaging, making these purchases often.

Below you can see attractive offers and discounts from the famous retailer of beauty products.

Impulse purchase

Home Decor

People buy home decor such as paintings, pillows, bedspreads, rugs, and beautiful dishes to make their homes feel comfortable. This eagerness pushes them to impulse purchases during big sales such as Black Friday, Christmas, Cyber Monday, Mother’s Day, etc. Customers can’t pass by a wonderful soap dish that matches their bathroom or a cup with a cute reindeer.

You can see amazing offers from H&M Home at affordable prices.

Impulse purchase

To sum it up, impulse buys can significantly increase your customer base and revenue. If you implement the tactics right, you’ll build an effective marketing strategy that sells. Your business will thrive and grow. Hope our examples inspired you to develop your impulse buying strategy.


  1. This article unveils 6 ways to increase impulse buys.
  2. In this article, you’ll find factors that affect impulse purchases.
  3. This article provides readers with tactics to boost impulse buys.
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