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Compulsive buying among young adults: a behavioural segmentation

Agata Maccarrone-Eaglen (Salford Business School, University of Salford College of Business and Law, Salford, UK)
Peter Schofield (Sheffield Hallam University Sheffield Business School, Sheffield, UK)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 10 January 2020

Issue publication date: 15 April 2020




The purpose of this study is to re-examine the characteristics of compulsive buying behaviour (CBB) based on a new improved screener. The study analyses young compulsive buyer attitudes, decision-making, product preferences, the impact of credit card use and post-purchase perspectives in relation to CBB severity.


The study takes a quantitative approach to the analysis of compulsive behaviour among young consumers, using data from a questionnaire survey and a large sample. A wide range of statistical procedures and structural equation modelling are used in the analysis.


The segmentation of compulsive buyers, on the basis of disorder severity, provides important insights into the asymmetrical between-group variation in anxiety levels, product preferences, feelings, attitudes and credit card impact and the within-group variability in daily compulsivity patterns and associated shopping behaviour.

Research limitations/implications

Although the overall used sample size is large, the subdivision of compulsive consumers into mild and severe categories resulted in a relatively small group of severely compulsive buyers; hence, further research is recommended to corroborate the findings from this study. In addition, this research does not address the disorder’s temporal dimension; therefore, future longitudinal studies should be undertaken to analyse the progression and characteristics of the disorder over time.

Practical implications

The significant differences between mild compulsive buyers and severely compulsive buyers make a significant contribution to counselling practitioners because of the different levels of support that should be offered in relation to the severity of the condition.


The study compares non-compulsive behaviour with occasionally compulsive, mildly compulsive and severely compulsive consumers using an improved screening tool. It identifies critical criteria that distinguish between mild and severe forms of the disorder, which have hitherto been neglected, yet represent key diagnostic and predictive factors, which can inform both early intervention and our understanding of CBB and its complexity.



Maccarrone-Eaglen, A. and Schofield, P. (2020), "Compulsive buying among young adults: a behavioural segmentation", Young Consumers, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 57-76.



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