The Influence of Culture on Consumer Impulsive Buying Behavior

Authors: Jacqueline J. Kacen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Julie Anne Lee, University of Hawaii-Manoa

Publication: Journal of Consumer Psychology

Year: 2002

Focus Area: Profile, Persuasion, Decision Making

Relevance: Some fraud victims, like impulse buyers, make quick decisions about a purchase. Mood, emotion, and culture can all play a part in these decisions, and profiles of fraud victims may include some of the same characteristics as impulse consumers.

Summary: In addition to mood and emotion, culture contributes to impulse buying behavior.

  • Most of the research on impulse buying behavior has been carried out in Western cultures – primarily the United States. Results of these studies should not be extended to non-Western cultures without careful consideration.
  • In general, Asian consumers made fewer impulse purchases than Caucasian consumers, even though shopping is culturally important in East Asia. This difference is attributed to the strength of collectivist cultural norms in Asian countries. Although the impulse to make a purchase is the same between people from both cultures, Asian consumers suppress this desire and act according to their cultural norms.
  • Caucasians were more likely to make impulsive purchases if they saw themselves as highly independent people; Asian consumers did not display this trend.

Abstract (from the authors): Impulse buying generates over $4 billion in annual sales volume in the United States. With the growth of e-commerce and television shopping channels, consumers have easy access to impulse purchasing opportunities, but little is known about this sudden, compelling, hedonically complex purchasing behavior in non-Western cultures. Yet cultural factors moderate many aspects of consumer’s impulsive buying behavior, including self-identity, normative influences, the suppression of emotion, and the postponement of instant gratification. From a multi-country survey of consumers in Australia, United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, our analyses show that both regional level factors (individualism–collectivism) and individual cultural difference factors (independent –interdependent self-concept) systematically influence impulsive purchasing behavior.

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