January 23, 2023

When people buy things they see even if they don't need it

This is a phenomenon which refers to the impulse purchase that are triggered when people see a product for the first time and then visualise a need for it. This is called Suggestion Impulse Buying.

An economist Hawkins Stern described this phenomenon in 1952.

Apple's sales and marketing philosophy is a practical example of this phenomenon in action. Their ads present the products being used by real people in real life scenarios. Us consumers lap it up not because we necessarily need them, but because of how these products are presented to us via ads.

This is one of the reasons why product placement in stores affects the sales so much. Tony Fadell writes about his experience selling Nest Learning Thermostat in Best Buy. Since there was no clear categorisation for placing it in the stores, each retailer placed it in different places leading to people not finding it or discovering it.

Nest and Best Buy innovated to create a Connected Home aisle to have better chance at grabbing more eyeballs.


  • Atomic Habits (James Clear), Chapter 6 – Motivation is Overrated, Environment Often Matters More