Impulse Purchase?



I read an article today about how Costco Canada was getting lots of sales through impulse purchases – like an instant massager – no, NOT instant messenger, instant massager.

That seemed rather weird to me. I mean, who wants to look for serendipity in a place where random shoppers conspire to block the aisles and play bumper cars with your cart, where you have to run the gauntlet of Zamboni-like floor sweepers and folks hawking all sorts of free food samples, where they move the kitty litter around the store every week or so, where you just want to buy your massive jar of dill pickles and get the heck out to the jammed parking lot?

I am the king of the non-impulse purchase anyway. Just give me a grocery list, send me out and I’ll get everything on that list and nothing else.

However upon reflection I have to admit that a couple of times I did make an impulse purchase in Costco. These were IT items:

  • My old D-Link router was obsolete and not giving a good signal in remote parts of the house. Costco had an excellent price on a new D-Link N router that actually targets the wifi adapter wherever it is located. That router has given excellent service and is delivering the signal I need to type this post.
  • I was in the market for a better monitor for my desktop – the old one had washed out color and was hard to read. Again Costco featured a really nice LG IPS monitor at about $50 less than I had seen it anywhere else. Voila!

So I went into the store not expecting to buy but did. Now I suppose you could argue I might have got something similar at Best Buy or Amazon, but the fact remains that Costco was in the right place at the right time. Be that as it may I am not about to go on a treasure hunt in Costco anytime soon for a set of steak knives or a Ronco slicer/dicer. No way.

The article also mentioned that Costco has tapped into some other basic consumer fears/motivations like scarcity, possible discontinuation of items, choice but not too much choice, the fact you have to pay to play. They treat their employees well and it shows when you check out.

But it’s still not the sort of place I’d visit for the sheer joy(?) of discovering that special item.

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