Tendencies towards Consumer’s Compulsive Buying Behavior.


Compulsive buying is a phenomenon that has received considerable attention from psychologists, behavioral and marketing researchers as well. Compulsive buying behavior as an addictive tendency or compulsive attribute, insistently arising from rushing, repetitive motive(s) for buying that might or might not be irresistible, gratifying or relieving but for sure it is essentially disturbing to normal functioning. Concurrently, consumer’s compulsive buying behavior is also considered as planned or goal oriented behavior that is shaped by different social and psychological influences. In collectivist culture of Pakistan, social environment or social factors such as individual’s social values and their conformity to group’s norms motivate to fulfill certain social needs. This typical social fabric and proliferation of the culture of excessive consumption/buying makes it, both a need and opportunity, to analyze compulsive buying behavior as well as its process that has not been holistically and systematically studied in the existing literature.

The current study identifies the social and psychological perspectives of consumer’s compulsive buying behavior and analyzes the cognitive decision process regarding appearance products. Hence, individual’s social influences studied in this research comprise of social values and attention-to-social-comparison-information, whereas, psychological influences consist of hedonic shopping motives, materialistic attitude, purchase decision involvement and impulsive buying intention.

The study, adds significant value to the literature in three ways: first, it provides comprehensive discussion on compulsive buying behavior construct and also the role of motivational forces in the formation of compulsive buying behavior is discussed from two perspectives i.e. social and psychological. Second, Stimulus-Organism-Response framework is used to conceptualize and propose that an individual’s social influences affect the psychological influences, thus leading to the development of compulsive buying behavior. Third, conceptual framework is used to verify the model of consumer’s planned behavior theory and it is established that consumer’s social and psychological characteristics influence impulsive buying intention which ultimately effects compulsive buying behavior.

In current study, data was collected from a sample of 1,120 consumers and a total of 1,010 responses were analyzed using structural equation modeling.

The results suggest that consumer’s social and psychological influences play a significant role in the development of compulsive buying behavior. The finding indicate that consumers’ attention-to-social-comparison-information is, in-general, a significant motivator/stimulator of their hedonic shopping motives, materialistic attitude and purchase decision involvement, whereas, social values have significant impact only on hedonic motives and which ultimately results in impulsive buying intention as well as compulsive buying behavior. Consequently, consumer’s social values, attention-to-social-comparisoninformation, hedonic shopping motives and materialistic attitude have indirect, whereas, purchase decision involvement and impulsive buying intention have direct effect on the development of consumer’s compulsive buying behavior. Finally, the overall results of the current study contribute in building a rigor of social cognitive theory and consumer planned behavior theory in the context of consumer’s compulsive buying behavior.

This research is a valuable addition in the domain of S-O-R model and the findings of the research would be helpful in making different selling and retailing decisions. At policy level, the findings would be helpful in shaping consumer protection laws. Marketers and policy makers are also advised to consider consumer education programs to safeguard consumers against the possible ills of compulsive buying behavior and enable them to overcome any financial woes resulting from it. To the knowledge of the researcher, the study of compulsive buying behavior simultaneously in social and psychological contexts is almost ignored. Neither it has been studied quantitatively. So, the current study provides an empirically valid S-O-R conceptual framework to understand the cognitive process of consumer’s compulsive buying behavior and the dissertation also opens new doors of inquiry especially in the context of collectivist societies.

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