Strategy Basics for Energizing Impulse Buys

A survey by, a deal-sharing web community that shares and evaluates coupon deals, showed that Americans, on average, spend about $324,000 on impulse buys in their lifetime.

So, how can brands and product companies make the most of this point-of-sale proclivity?

From displays to deals to strategizing with retailers, you’ll discover the tools and tactics that get product from the warehouse to buyers’ hands in this blog.

Let’s get started!

Use High-Low Pricing to Encourage Impulse Buys

High-low pricing is known to deliver better impulse sales, and promotions should build on a shopper’s need to seize a bargain… but there’s a right way and a wrong way to encourage that extra spending.

So, what’s the best practice?

Here’s how flawless high-low pricing works, according to Corporate Finance Institute: First, establish the product at a significantly higher price than competitors. Next, offer a deep pricing reduction. This should be a temporary price reduction, with that fact stated clearly during the promotional period. Once the promotion is over, return the price to nearly the same high point as before – but just a bit under.

The benefits of this strategy are many. 

First, products priced above the competition build a market of high-end shoppers. They want to see a higher price because it assures them that the product is objectively better – either during creation or through its makeup.

Second, the discount time-window creates multiple awesome effects: it creates a sense of urgency to take advantage of the deal price for average-income shoppers (as well as the high-end, wait-and-see shopper), and it opens up your product to the wider market. In other words, you’ll attract those who want to try the finer things as well as those who know they will only spend so much for your particular product.

Third, this strategy can help you negotiate better front-of-store positions. By generating buzz for the product and promoting the limited-time discount, foot-traffic will climb and generate sales for the retailer – especially since customers are known to buy more than just a sale-item once they’ve come to shop. 

Luxury Product Tip: As we said, price is one way to establish value to the customer – the high cost implies better materials, manufacturing, etc. This parallels the fundamental truth of luxury product marketing, where high prices reflect not only exclusivity, but also quality. That’s why you must return the product to nearly the same original price (but lower).

Long-term Pricing Tip: Using high-low pricing can be a reliable, metric-driven way to gauge the long-term maximum profitable price of a product after the “high” price is established. Gradually offer lower post-sale prices (starting from near the original price and then dropping it) to discover the sweet spot between lower price and maximum purchases – profit is the key measure for determining that price, not volume.

Avoid High-Low Pricing When Building Loyalty

The MIT engineers and Wall Street Analysts of Forbes’ Trefis Team have some advice on when to use a high-low vs. everyday low-price (EDLP) strategy, saying “…a stable pricing strategy (whether EDLP or luxury) serves better in building customer loyalty, rather than occasional discounts. Consistency in prices yearlong helps build customer confidence in a retailer's products, which strengthens its position in the market.”

That being said, use high-low pricing with care. Is your product brand new? Stable pricing will may be a better initial plan. Are you looking for impulse revenue boosts? Established brands are a safe bet for this strategy. 

The Checkout Funnel Isn’t the Only Impulse Buying Sweet Spot

The checkout isn’t the only place to situate your high-profit impulse products – great news for situations where you can’t get your hands on the awesome pre-checkout funnel. 

So, where should your basket-building winners go, if not at that classic hot spot? Well, much like the pre-checkout area, your product needs to be where the people are. That means keeping your impulse buys near high-demand items

Impulse Destinations

Creating that sense of fun and opportunity can also come with a unique and eye-catching display. Consider the highly successful impulse-buy areas implemented by these stores. They include beautiful, bright concentric rings of gardening pots stocked full of tiny high-profit flashlights, as well as a bargain wall with low-cost, high-profit seasonal items. Their examples appear to be end caps – we’d suggest trying both endcaps around an entrance to high-demand and necessity items. Work with your retailers to secure these great spots! 

Impulse Buy 101: Think beyond your retailer and focus on the consumer. What are they trying to achieve while shopping? For instance, might those customers shopping for lumber and nails also be happy to see a tape measure along the way? Or a green thumb buying mulch – how convenient will they find discounted gloves and transplant pots conscientiously placed along the path to checkout? Helping them achieve their goals makes for some electric impulse-buy synergy. 


Regardless of the strategy you use, generating more sales with your highest profit items means knowing the lay of the land – yours and the competitions. The Natural Insight platform provides leadership and staff the tools they need to collect competitive pricing and merchandising intelligence, verify your field team’s merchandising execution and ensure that their displays attract eager customers. 

Need more help? Check out our guide for organizing your next product execution: The Ultimate Retail Execution Checklist.

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Caroline Lane is the Director of Marketing at Natural Insight. Prior to joining Natural Insight, Lane was a senior marketing manager with Aquicore, an energy management software system for real estate portfolios. Lane was one of the company’s first ten employees hired and was responsible for building Aquicore’s marketing strategy from the ground up. Lane also previously worked at Renault - Nissan where she helped the automobile manufacturer penetrate more than 14 Asian and African countries. She has a Masters of Science in Management from EMLYON, one of Europe’s top ranking business schools located in France.