Jon Chandler
London 2000
Understanding Impulse: The Double Observation Method

Impulse purchasing is almost by definition a 'black box' of consumer behaviour. Standard interviewer approaches in Market Research make little headway in an area where consumers rarely think through or think about their behaviour.

This paper examines how a new innovative methodology has been employed to explore behaviour within the impulse sector. The paper thus offers insight and revelations at two different levels:

  • A new and distinctive twist on the observation research theme.
  • New understanding of consumer behaviour within the impulse purchase sector.

The double observation method involves changing the classic roles and relationships in Market Research. This approach first adopts a 'researcher as observer' approach to construct ideal typical models of consumer behaviour, but then puts consumers themselves into a role of cultural commentator by showing them film clips of ideal typical consumer behaviour.

'Running on impulse' has become a significant part of many consumers behaviour repertoires within the shopping arena. Within impulse purchase we can see much ritualised and 'auto pilot' behaviour, but see also a pattern of random variations in which consumers experiment or play just for the sake of it.