If You Want To Stop Impulse Buying, You Need To Try Mindful Shopping

Grazia speaks to renowned retail psychologist Kate Nightingale about the new shopping tactic that’s stopping us impulse-buying this Summer.

Woman shopping

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

‘I’ve accidentally bought an entire new wardrobe,’ a friend told me on the phone last week. It was her first time partaking in some retail therapy since March, and naturally she had gotten a bit over-excited. But she’s not the only one.

According to business growth platform Invesp, every customer makes on average three impulse purchases out of four. That means the majority of our purchases are rash, effortless decisions as oppose to thoughtful, considered buying. With Covid-19 impacting millions of jobs in the UK alone, this trend is becoming increasingly concerning.

‘We are able to process 11 million bits of information per second in our subconscious brain but barely manage 40 bits on the conscious one,’ explains retail psychologist Kate Nightingale. ‘That means that about 95% of our decisions are entirely subconscious and that includes our what we buy and how we buy. Unfortunately, that can lead to a lot of impulsive purchase decisions.’

Working with Klarna to create KlarnaSense, an initiative to encourage smarter purchases, Nightingale is helping prepare shoppers for a healthier, more fruitful shopping experience by using mindful shopping.

‘Mindful shopping is about busing various tactics to encourage more considered conscious decision marking. One of those tactics is, for example, the rule of three, which we're working with Klarna to create so that people actually can make more of those conscious rational decisions.’

The rule of three is, according to Nightingale, asking yourself three simple questions that will automatically help you switch off from the ‘automatic, subconscious mode of decision making and take you more into the present moment to make you more conscious of the purchase you're making.’

Ask yourself, do I love it? Will I use it? Is it worth it?

The simplified version of these questions are ‘Do I love it? Will I use it? Is it worth it?’. Even just asking those, Nightingale says, will help you break away from your subconscious impulse buying. If you want something more personal though, Klarna have created more specific rule of three questions via their KlarnaSense campaign you can ask yourself depending on your shopper type. Through their quiz, not only can you find out what shopper type you are – either innovators, experience junkies, rewarders, social butterflies or deal hunters – but how prevent impulse buying depending on what category you fit into.

According to their research, while innovators are the trendsetters, experience junkies are adventurous spirits searching for new immersive moments. Rewarders on the other hand use shopping as therapy, while social butterflies use it as a fun thing to do with friends. As you’d expect, deal hunters are those discount-lovers always hunting for a bargain.

Once you know where you sit, implementing these processes will become habitual and ultimately, you’ll be happier with your shopping purchases, says Nightingale.

‘When we look into research on how we buy and what we buy, is, a lot is connected with happiness and well-being,’ she explains. ‘Usually, the majority of research shows that experience purchase - so a spa weekend, travel or concert – are generally a bit better at enhancing our happiness and well-being. However, some of the newer research is showing that when we buy things that are aligned with who we are - so our personality, our values, our goals - these purchases have a strong positive impacts on our happiness and can even be better than experiential purchases.

‘So on top of making better financial decisions and feeling more confident with those decisions, there's a lot of benefit in terms of the overall wellbeing,’ Nightingale concludes.

She also explains that research shows how buying things that make us feel emotionally comfortable or help express our authentic selves has a positive impact on our confidence, productivity and can improve our relationships as well as ‘general life satisfaction.’

‘There's loads of amazing personal benefits from buying things that are truly consistent and align with who you are as a person,’ she continues. ‘Just those three questions will help you be a little bit more self-aware in terms of who you are and what's truly works for you as opposed to following a trend, what your friend is buying or an influencer is selling.’

So there you have it, next time you think about adding that random dress you saw your favourite influencer wearing at the weekend to your basket – think twice, or three times it seems. If it stops our rash purchases and subsequent guilt, mindful shopping is the new trend we’ll definitely be hopping on – ironic, huh?

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