Why Do Content for Impulse-Buy Items?

Lately, the merchandising world has been abuzz with rumors that impulse buying is dead. And according to some news reports, the e-commerce industry holds the smoking gun.

At the heart of this topic is a theme we’ve covered extensively on this blog: online consumer habits are shaping offline ones. Ecommerce has conditioned consumers to shop more mindfully, and this has helped inoculate them against the impulse-buy strategies that retail stores have long relied on for sales boosts.

There are three primary ways ecommerce can support impulse-buying strategies:

  • Top results in SERP equals eye-level placement in stores
  • Digital package not the same as the physical package
  • ROPO goes both ways

How Better Content Can Revitalize Impulse Buys

How can brands and products that thrive on impulse buying, such as mints, chapstick, and the like, recover some of the losses they’re taking at the checkout line? An obvious answer would be to fall in with the new way of selling. If ecommerce is so ubiquitous that it’s impacting your offline sales, why not grab some of that space for yourself?

But impulse-buy reliant brands might also wonder whether it’s worth bothering with the online marketplace at all. This skepticism is understandable. If you’re a chewing gum brand, you know how intimately your sales depend on the spatial realities of a brick-and-mortar store. All the variables you usually rely on–eye-level placement, cash register snafus, the tantalizing scent of 10 mint flavor options–can’t be recreated online. And even if they could be, e-tailer technology is still sometimes too slow to satisfy a spontaneous and probably brief whim.

Even so, a strong ecommerce presence is very much worth your while. All you need is a retooled merchandising strategy driven by compelling content. Here’s why.


Eye-Level Placement

There is a digital equivalent for eye-level placement at the checkout line, and it’s getting to the top of Google search engine results page (SERP). Brands that neglect their online content do their visibility a huge disservice, and risk winding up in the nether-pages of the SERP.

But by having strong, original content, brands can secure a place at the top – and if they get there first, they’re much less likely to be displaced. And sooner or later, one of your competitors will decide to invest in online content and grab those top results. At that point, it will be quite hard to displace them. As Dan Myers said about Amazon, product rank has a “king of the hill effect.” This is certainly true on search engines as well.

The Digital Package

You can also dramatically improve your brand’s visibility by creating what we call a digital package. We’ve explored the ins and outs of this process already, but here we’ll just say that brands that rehash their cardboard content online aren’t making the cut anymore. The digital space offers a lot more real estate for content than a chewing gum box, after all, and gives you more room to explore your brand’s identity and the particulars of the product.


More and more consumers are researching products online before buying them offline. This might have hampered on impulse buying, but it also gives you an opportunity to make it onto a customer’s grocery list before they head to the store. Better still, the trend goes both ways. Let your brand’s online content cross-pollinate with its on-shelf content, and you’ll likely see a sales spike in both areas.

A Smoother Customer Journey

Impulse-buy brands rely on traditional sales tactics that are quickly becoming outdated in today’s marketing world. But by creating digital content that is consistently excellent across all platforms, even sagging companies can revitalize their sales. This is the hallmark of the new customer journey.

Ecommerce Is Only Moving Forward

There’s a precedent for the doubt impulse-buy brands feel towards the online marketplace. In the early days of ecommerce, skeptics often pointed towards consumer packaged goods (CPGs) as an example of something that would never sell online. Toiletries, cleaning products, and other “need-it-now” consumables are things people tend to buy as they run out, and so brick-and-mortar stores would continue being the shopping medium of choice. Sound familiar?



Well, flash forward a few years, and CPG makes up an increasingly large share of Amazon’s yearly sales. And Amazon is so confident in consumer desire to continue this trend that it recently released a Dash Button, which lives physically next to your detergent or diapers and provides a literal one-touch buy button.

The Takeaway

With a better online content approach, impulse-buy brands can help steer the forces of ecommerce back in their favor.

Let's work together.