Who has the edge when it comes to impulse buying?

The other day I was walking through a mall and I popped into one of the electronics stores. It was a store that’s a part of one of the big chains. Exactly which chain doesn’t matter, but you’ve probably visited one yourself.

By Magnus Nystedt (PRODUCT REVIEW)

Published: Sun 15 Jan 2012, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 1:53 AM

I looked around at all kinds of gadgets and technology, especially TVs as I’m in the market for a new one. The thing that struck me the most, however, was the section for tablets. All tablets were on a single table, probably about two meters long and less than a meter wide. Two iPads were on one side and five other tablets on the other. Each one perched about 10cm above the table with nice posters behind them, displaying pictures and important specifications.

The basic setup of each tablet was about the same. The five tablets that were on one side of the table were four Android ones and one Windows side. There were a variety of screen sizes from 7 to 10 inches, slightly different colours, and one even had a physical keyboard. Besides each tablet, including the iPads, there was a paper with specifications on it.

Now, imagine you’re in the market for a tablet, and you’re not particularly technology-savvy, what do you go for? In most people’s mind, I would imagine that “a tablet” is synonymous with “iPad.” That’s obviously one huge benefit that Apple has over the competition.

For the average buyer, I think what also favours the iPad is a simpler message, both visually and in text. The graphical language used to promote the other tablets was in this particular store not as clean and clear and that of Apple and it focused very much on specifications and details. Apple’s message was shorter, more direct, and hit home in terms of lifestyle and emotions.

So before you decide to buy a particular piece of technology, do you do your research before going to the store? And does it ever happen that you make the decision on the stop, in the store?

I certainly can’t remember the last time I made a substantial impulse buy in a store, something like a few thousand dirhams or more. It happens that I pick up something for perhaps a few hundred, but that’s about it. For anything substantial, even if I know I have enough cash to buy something, I do a lot of research.

But perhaps if I was less into technology — after all I make a living from writing about it — I might have been persuaded by the in-store merchandising. After all, I’m not a typical gadget shopper.

It’s clear to me that Apple has the edge in the stores, when promoting and selling its wares. And I’m not talking about Apple’s own stores; I’m talking about the bigger chains that sell products from Apple as well as others. Of course Apple has a huge advantage in having the best brand name in technology combined with some of the most-recognisable products. That seems like an unbeatable combination. It clearly was in the store I visited. During my brief visit, there were consistently more people spending more time looking at the iPads compared with the other tablets. Apple clearly had the edge in that situation.

Magnus Nystedt, @mnystedt

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