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There Is No Such Thing As An Impulsive Purchase

If you read the “Vitamins don’t have a triggering event” article , the key takeaway is the concept of chasing triggering events. If you haven’t read the article, I’d recommend doing that before continuing on…

Innovation is behavior change

Entrepreneurs are in the business of creating something new, better, and different from the status quo. In order for customers to adopt your new and better way, they have to let go of their old way.

As an entrepreneur, you are in the behavior change business.

But you can’t really cause behavior change, unless…

As much as we like to believe that all we need to do is show customers our new “better way”, and they’ll instantly fall in love with it, buy it, and adopt it… this is a lie we love to believe.

We spend all our energy hustling and pitching our product to anyone who’ll listen. Most, however, will simply ignore you because you don’t and can’t change their mind. You can’t change a person’s mind unless they are already open to change.

This comes, not from something you do, but something intrinsic to your customer.

Changing behavior isn’t impulsive, but systematic

There is no such thing as an impulsive purchase. Think of something you recently bought that you might label as an “impulsive purchase”.

Maybe you were scrolling your Instagram feed and saw an ad for a new product X. The next thing you know you’ve clicked through and bought it. What just happened?

Seems impulsive, but I guarantee that if you trace back what led to that purchase, that ad wasn’t the first domino in the sequence of events. There is always at least one initial triggering event (and often a series of events) that occurs earlier. These events move you from being “unaware and not interested” to “passively looking for something that fits an unmet need or want”.

There are generally 3 types of triggering events:

  1. Bad experience: An old way breaks or underperforms (like your car breaking down twice in a month) which causes you to consider the possibility of switching.
  2. Change in circumstance: Something changes in your life (like a new baby) which causes you consider switching things up (like giving up your two-seater sports car).
  3. Awareness: You learn something new (like learning you’re expecting) which creates an opening for lots of new needs and wants.

These triggering events create an opening in your mind… And when product X comes along, it seems to fit like a glove, and moves you from “passive looking” to “active looking” and in this case, pretty quickly to a “purchase”.

But this wasn’t impulsive. Neither was that ad random. It was systematically placed there to target you based on certain behaviors you exhibited previously that seemed to indicate you might be open to product X.

In case you’re wondering, triggering events are universal and product agnostic. They apply just as equally to $10 consumer products as they do to $100,000 B2B products. There’s a reason the best salespeople play golf. They are constantly scanning for triggering events i.e. changes in their customer’s world that might make them more ready to switch.

Uncovering the triggering events for your product are a game changer. You gain clarity on where, and more specifically when, to target your ideal customers.

Not convinced? If you have an impulsive product in mind that doesn’t have a prior triggering event, leave a comment here.