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Journal of Marketing Research

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Consumers -- Decision making, Shopping -- Decision making, Consumer behavior, Impulse buying, Motivation research (Marketing)


Previous studies of in-store decision making have assumed that motivations for unplanned purchases are homogeneous throughout a shopping trip. In response to this assumption, the authors develop a conceptual framework to explain how consumers’ internal (i.e., intrinsic) and external (i.e., extrinsic) motivations for unplanned purchases actually vary during a shopping trip. Two field studies and five online experiments provide evidence that the personality trait of buying impulsivity predicts differences in whether a shopper initially focuses on internal motivations (e.g., “because I love it”) or external motivations (e.g., “because it is on sale”) for unplanned purchases at the beginning of a shopping trip and, consistent with a mechanism of motivation balancing, that motivations for unplanned purchases change as a shopper satisfies their initial motivations. The studies also demonstrate how the level of buying impulsivity influences the effectiveness of point-of-purchase messages at stimulating unplanned purchases and consumers’ relative spending on unplanned purchases. Overall, these findings address conflicting results in previous shopping studies, advance the literature streams on consumer motivation and sequential choice, and contribute insights to enhance shopper-marketing programs.


This is the Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article that was subsequently published in Journal of Marketing Research. Journal of Marketing Research. Vol 7, Issue 3, April 2020, pages 548-564 originally published by American Marketing Association.



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