Leveraging the Impulse Buyer for F-Commerce

 By Tim Bosch

The viability of f-commerce has been debated at great lengths on the web as of late. Very intelligent marketers have very different views on the matter. However, most agree that f-commerce is generally contingent on impulse purchases.

Impulse purchases are unplanned and emotionally driven purchases that happen in response to some stimulus. The best metaphor for Facebook’s retail opportunity is attending a professional baseball game. When you go to the game your intent is to enjoy watching the sport of baseball with other fans who share your passion. Nevertheless, along with buying the ticket for the game, you end up buying a shirt, hotdog, beer and a baseball cap. There was no intent on buying these items before you left for the game, thus, you purchased these on impulse. It is very rare that someone will ever go on Facebook with the intent to search for a product to buy. When most people use Facebook, their motives are simple: connect and interact with people or brands they “like.” Along the way, the user is exposed to stimuli that can influence a buy. However, the stimuli that Facebook can manifest are more powerful than any ad you see at a ballgame: peer influence.

Who are these impulse consumers?

Luckily for Facebook marketers, there is already vast intelligence on impulse buying. Although almost everybody makes an impulse purchase from time to time, certain segments of the population are more prone to this type of purchase behavior:

  • Women under 40
  • Affluent
  • Materialistic
  • Enjoy shopping

If this sounds like your demographic, setting up a f-store may not be a bad idea.

What products are bought impulsively?

Almost any product presented in the right way can be bought on impulse. However, there are 3 types of products that are commonly purchased on impulse. First, cheap and fun products (ex. yo-yo) are almost never planned. Second, products that are symbolic to the user, such as luxury brands or music,  are often purchased on impulse. Lastly, products that provide instant gratification to the user are frequently purchased on impulse. However, this third product type is tricky online where you have to wait for products to ship.

If your consumer and product sound like they fit the mold of the impulse retail market, then you have a great opportunity to sell on Facebook.

What retail stores/ brands do you think would have the greatest benefit from selling on Facebook? Share your thoughts in the comments!