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Impulsiveness in the grocery store: psychographic drivers and segments

Kenneth R. Lord (College of Business, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA)
Sanjay Putrevu (College of Business, Bentley University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA)
Elizabeth A. Olson (Department of Clinical Psychology, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 27 January 2023

Issue publication date: 24 March 2023




This study aims to enhance the understanding of impulse buying in grocery stores, where such purchases are pervasive and consumers face greater decision fatigue and diminished willpower than in more frequently examined retail environments. The intent is to demonstrate the influence of variables known to affect impulse buying in other environments on grocery shopping behavior, identify and profile segments that vary along those constructs and reveal how those segment characteristics help to explain impulse buying differences.


A purposive sample of 234 grocery shoppers approached at the point of purchase in a metropolitan area in Northeastern USA completed scales for theoretically derived variables and reported on their impulse purchases.


Anxiety, perceived financial pressure (PFP), novelty/variety seeking and shopping enjoyment positively influenced, whereas need for cognition had a negative effect on impulse-purchase activity. Two distinct segments of impulse buyers emerged: anxious and innovative shoppers. Anxious shoppers were higher in anxiety, PFP and compulsive buying, whereas innovative shoppers had higher levels of need for cognition and novelty/variety seeking.


The evidence for the dominance of anxiety and novelty/variety seeking as key motivators of distinct segments of impulse buyers in grocery stores is unique to this study. Results yield new insight on tension between the effects of motivational variables on the immediate impulse buying decision and post-purchase evaluation and add precision to marketers’ efforts to encourage spontaneous in-store decision-making.



Lord, K.R., Putrevu, S. and Olson, E.A. (2023), "Impulsiveness in the grocery store: psychographic drivers and segments", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 40 No. 3, pp. 328-343.



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