What is “Creative Purchasing” For Pleasure? Exploring the Connections between Human Emotions and Consumer Behavior

Public Relations Office        May 30, 2017

Junya Ishibuchi, Professor, School of Business Administration

Junya Ishibuchi, Professor, School of Business Administration

Professor Ishibuchi left the Kwansei Gakuin University’s School of Business Administration to enter graduate school, where he completed the Master’s and Doctoral Programs of the KGU Graduate School of Business Administration. Ph.D. (Commerce). He held positions as full-time lecturer and Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Commerce of Fukuoka University, and as Associate Professor in the KGU School of Business Administration, before taking up his current position in 2011. His areas of specialization are marketing research and consumer behavior theory. He was awarded the Best Paper Award by the Japan Society of Marketing and Distribution in 2015 and by the Japan Marketing Academy in 2016.

With his academic specializations of marketing research and consumer behavior theory, Professor Junya Ishibuchi showed that, if consumers feel enjoyment when they are shopping, they can shop more intelligently and efficiently, and it can also lead to repeat customers for stores. Proposing a new theory of consumer behavior that is not present in existing research, his paper, “Tenponai no Kai-kanjo wa Shodo Kobai wo Saseru Dake Ka [Do Pleasant Emotions in Stores Only Trigger Impulse Buying?]” (Japan Marketing Journal, Vol. 35 No. 4 (consecutive number of volume No. 140), 27-51, March 2016) was awarded Best Paper by the Japan Marketing Academy.

Junya Ishibuchi, Professor, School of Business Administration

Until now, research into consumer behavior has developed from computer data processing and cognitive psychology, involving the quantification and mechanical analysis of human behavior. Also, research into situations where there are pleasant emotions (feelings of enjoyment) in retail stores had only proved that such feelings triggered impulse buying. In his own research, Professor Ishibuchi decided to focus on the psychology of emotion. ‘When we go to a store, we do so with various emotions, and those emotions change while we are in the store. Precisely because consumer behavior is a part of human behavior, I wanted to conduct research into reality that incorporated those emotions.’

He believed that the fact that pleas- ant emotions broaden the scope of one’s attention, increase imagination and judgment capacity, and prompt effective, creative solutions to problems could be taken advantage of in the area of consumer behavior.

He rolled out his research predominantly in the form of questionnaire surveys. He developed a linguistic scale for measuring the emotions of customers in stores, which he combined with customer movements to conduct onsite surveys in department stores.

‘Everyone feels something while they are shopping, but they don’t usually have a concrete grasp of their emotions, such as “I’m having fun,” or “I feel down,” as they shop. For this reason, when we ask shoppers, “Does your enjoyment of this store influence your purchasing when you shop?” many respond that they don’t know.

There are elements of vanity and dishonesty in their responses. To avoid this, I have adopted methods of statistical analysis. Using these methods, I repeat questions that at first glance appear to be asking something different every time, and by connecting and analyzing the individual responses to those different questions, they can ultimately lead me to the true feelings of the respondent.’ Professor Ishibuchi’s analysis demonstrated that pleasant emotions raised the level of creative purchasing by consumers.

It showed that consumers who made creative purchases became long-term repeat visitors to those stores.

For example, say a shopper visits the basement-floor food hall of a department store to buy salad, and she experiences feelings of enjoyment from the store’s décor and the service provided by the store attendant. When this happens, these pleasant emotions cause the shopper to unconsciously start using her brain, and she does things such as buying the meat she forgot to buy yesterday and a dressing to go with the salad. That is, she becomes able to shop more intelligently and efficiently. These pleasant emotions prompt a process of “ability to shop with feelings of enjoyment”→“unconscious ability to shop intelligently and efficiently”→“increase in degree of satisfaction with store” → “repeated visits to store.” This process leads to an increase in repeat customers. The same could be said not only for the department stores where Professor Ishibuchi conducted his research, but also for supermarkets and shopping districts.

Professor Ishibuchi’s research raised questions about the school of thought known as the ‘customer traffic flow myth,’ which holds that extending the customer traffic flow increases impulse purchases, leading to increased sales revenue in the short term. “If you target impulse buying, you see immediate results. However, it is important for retailers not to be too caught up in short-term profits, but to develop mechanisms for increasing customers’ pleasant emotions, and to connect those emotions to shopper satisfaction through creative purchases and to long-term customers. This will ultimately lead to stability of sales revenue for the retailers, and it will also benefit consumers, who will be able to shop more intelligently and efficiently. I want to shed light on the relationship between emotions and consumer behavior and conduct research into marketing activities that will benefit both the businesses and the consumers.”

●Impulse buying …Buying products that one had no plans to purchase prior to entering the store, etc.
●Creative purchases …Remembering, while in the store, products that one had to buy, thinking of things relevant to the original purchase and making further purchases, etc.purchased products etc.