Home Cyberpsychology & Technology Targeted Ads and Social Networks Boost Impulse Buying, Finds New Study

Targeted Ads and Social Networks Boost Impulse Buying, Finds New Study

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A recent study has uncovered how online advertising and social networks contribute to the impulse buying behaviour of young consumers. Conducted by researchers from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, the study highlights the interplay between low self-control, targeted advertising, and the influence of social networks on impulsive purchases among individuals aged 18–29.

Impulse buying is defined as making unplanned purchases driven by sudden urges, often without considering long-term consequences. The digital age, with its convenience and ease of access, has exacerbated this behaviour. Online shopping platforms and social media networks have become fertile grounds for impulsive purchases, facilitated by targeted advertisements and peer influence.

The study, published in Computers in Human Behavior, surveyed 2318 young adults in Finland to understand the factors that drive impulse buying in online environments. The researchers focused on self-control, attitudes towards targeted advertisements, and the influence of social networks to build a comprehensive model of impulsive buying behaviour.

One of the key findings of the study is the direct link between low self-control and impulse buying. Individuals with lower self-control are more susceptible to the allure of online shopping. This vulnerability is not just direct; it also operates through intermediary factors such as positive attitudes towards targeted advertisements and the impulsiveness fostered by social networks.

The study highlights how targeted advertising plays a crucial role in shaping consumer behaviour. Personalized ads, which use algorithms to track online activities and preferences, can significantly influence purchasing decisions. Young consumers with low self-control are particularly vulnerable to these ads, often finding them more persuasive and compelling. This positive disposition towards targeted advertisements further increases their susceptibility to impulsive buying triggered by social media.

Social networks act as powerful amplifiers of impulsive buying behaviour. The study introduces the concept of “impulsiveness of social networks,” which refers to how social media interactions and peer recommendations influence purchasing decisions. Young consumers are highly influenced by the content shared by their peers, including product endorsements and reviews. This social influence can override their self-control, leading to spontaneous purchases.

The findings of the study have significant implications for both consumers and marketers. For consumers, particularly young adults, the study underscores the importance of developing digital literacy and self-control skills to resist the persuasive power of online advertisements and social media influences. Educators and policymakers can play a vital role in promoting these skills to mitigate the risks of impulse buying.

For marketers, understanding the psychological mechanisms behind impulse buying can help in designing more effective advertising strategies. But there is also an ethical consideration. Marketers need to balance their strategies to avoid exploiting consumers’ vulnerabilities, which could lead to financial distress and long-term negative consequences.

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