The Shopping Momentum Effect

shopping momentum money in hand

How Shopping Leads to More Shopping

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re out buying socks, walk towards the register, and then find yourself looking for underwear? Or you head to the grocery store to buy tomatoes and find a deal on toilet paper on your way to the produce section?

Studies have been conducted related to this specific human psyche and behavior. The internal phenomenon is known as ‘Shopping Momentum’. Research from the highest institutions including Stanford, Penn State University and evaluate what causes us to say to ourselves when out shopping, “Hey, I need that” or, “Maybe we can use that in the future”.

Shopping Momentum

Shopping Momentum takes places when an initial purchase triggers a psychological impulse in your brain. That impulse enhances the purchase of a second, non-related product that you hadn’t originally planned on purchasing.

Shopping Momentum is similar to the effect that gambling gives you. Once you win or see someone else win, your brain is essentially triggered to convince yourself that pulling the lever one more time or betting that extra dollar might reap the rewards that come with winning even a tiny portion of that large million dollar pot.

If you’ve ever walked into a store aiming to purchase one item and walk out with multiple items, you’ve probably fallen victim. The Shopping Momentum Effect has had its irresistible grasp on you!

The decision to buy one thing, then another, often builds momentum because you’ve given yourself permission to purchase! It’s like an adult saying, “Yes, you can eat candy”.

You’re opening Pandora’s Box in allowing yourself to buy more and more.

Shopping is a Two Step Process

  1. Deliberation/Evaluation Phase

    This is when consumers decide whether or not they want to purchase something. During this phase, consumers browse potential items for purchase, create an idea or list of items they want, and weigh the pros and cons of the items in question.

  2. Buying Phase

    When you’re committing to the chosen item and making the purchase. Studies show that during this phase, shoppers temporarily experience the high or thrill of owning something they’ve wanted. Almost like a drug, this triggers the inner ‘Shopaholic’ (for some). The internal urges to continue to ‘Buy, Buy, And Buy’. You’re subconsciously seeking another high or thrill from his/her first purchase.

Identifying In-Store Marketing Placebos

The placebo effect is a well-established phenomenon in medicine that shows that a placebo induces the real effect on a patient’s well being. This is attributed mainly to classical conditioning and expectations.

Examples of Marketing Placebos Include:

  • Scents – Researchers have demonstrated that people tend to spend more when they in an environment with ‘Warm Scents’. These scents include Vanilla or Cinnamon.
  • Colors: Marketing experts say that people subconsciously associate specific colors with specific social or cultural messages. A few market-targeted colors:
    • Black – The signature color of sophistication, it dominates high-end packaging
    • Blue – Most everyone likes blue. It’s a common logo color for financial institutions seeking to make people feel secure.
    • Green – Aimed at the eco-friendly shopper.
  • Visuals: TV, Online and in-store advertising and displays that scream out nothing positive experiences from consumers who have “used” the product

How Can You Stop “Excessive” Shopping?

There are multiple steps you can take in order to minimize the bad habit that comes with shopping momentum. Conquering this task requires you to set up daily, weekly or monthly spending budgets.

Ideally, if you’re in the whirlwind that comes with overspending, you should have a grasp on your overall finances. Identify what you’re spending monthly on the essential finances which include: Utilities, rent/mortgage, credit cards, debts, groceries and so on.

Anything you have left over is recommended to put away into savings or set aside for a large purchase – like a down payment for an auto loan to buy a car, dream vacation overseas, college tuition, new clothing, etc. Budgeting and finding ways to save is truly beneficial!