Canadians Are 'Impulse Game Buyers' Says NPD Group Study

By Paul Hunter

The NPD Group have released a report entitled The Canadian Video Game Purchase Process which found that the Canadian video game industry has been overcome by a wave of impulse purchases fueled primarily by creative packaging and online accessibility.

Despite being in a mild recession, 40 per cent of video game buyers stated that they have purchased a game on impulse in the past six months.

Much like gamers overall, the male/female split for impulse buying is almost even and are dominated by the 13 – 17 age group (26%) and the 35 – 44 age group (23%).

“Clearly gamers are becoming much less reluctant to spend on games,” said Matthew Tattle, Group Manager, The NPD Group. “One would think it is a little unusual to see impulse purchases during a recession but it’s clear that hardcore gamers will find a way to satisfy their need for something new, different and enjoyable.”

This upswing of shoppers picking up a game on impulse is correlated with a rise in low-cost used games, which has performed exceptionally well during the recessionary months generating $65 in sales. In Canada we've recently witnessed a number of major retailers get into the used gaming market including Best Buy Canada, Rogers Plus, and Future Shop. HMV has also announced intentions to enter the used game market but specifics have not yet been made public.

Motivations behind impulse shopping include images or descriptions on game packaging (40% said this was extremely important), and in-store demonstrations of the game (25% are swayed after viewing one).

Says Tattle: “Game packaging is the most influential form of advertising for game manufacturers and retailers. Particularly among impulse shoppers, game packaging is considered a much stronger motivator than TV commercials, online ads or trailers. The graphics and images on game packages should be chosen strategically to ensure buyers are attracted to the game.”

Referrals also play a key role for retailers looking to attract impulse buyers, 1/3 of whom said they were motivated to make their last game purchase by having played the game at a friend’s house or receiving a referral from a family member or friend.

Furthermore, 19% of impulse buyers said a store clerk’s recommendation is very or extremely important to them and 21% are swayed by a recommendation from another shopper in the store.

Additional study findings include:

* Only 3% of reported purchases were pre-ordered
* Females are more likely to buy on impulse; 46% of impulse buyers are females compared to only 37% of planned buyers
* Sequels sell; almost 20% of gamers said they were motivated to buy a game that was a sequel to one they had previously enjoyed
* 43% of impulse buyers paid only $10 – $20 for their last game purchase
* Only 15% of impulse purchases were made online

The Canadian Video Game Purchase Process was conducted from Aug.10 – 21, 2009 among a population sample of 2,429 gamers (1,758 adults, 371 teens) across the country.