Planned or Impulse Purchases? How to Create Effective lnfomercials

Tom Agee
Brett A. S. Martin
University of Auckland

Infomercials represent a form of advertising of considerable commercial significance. In 1996, advertisers were reported to have spent $800 million on infomercial time (Lockard, 1997), with infomercials more recently generating global sales of $75 billion (Direct Marketing, 1999). Furthermore, a number of large companies are using or planning to use infomercials, including Cadillac, Philips, Ericsson, and Volvo (Guilford, 1999; Krol, 1998; Halliday, 1999; Wasserman, 1999).

Yet despite the commercial importance of this form of advertising, there is little past research in this area. This is surprising given that infomercials, as a form of direct-response advertising, have been highlighted as different from other types of television advertising. For instance, Andrews (1999) suggests that direct-response advertisements provide consumers with enough information to make a purchase decision, as well as giving them a way to purchase the product immediately. This study addresses this gap in previous research by examining two research questions:

  1. Are infomercial purchases planned or impulse decisions?
  2. What factors influence whether an infomercial purchase is planned or impulse?