There are very few adults in the market for any particular good or service at any particular time. This is what is referred to as the “thin market.” Thin-market research data have consistently revealed that only a small percentage of potential customers shop for and buy various types of goods or services during a typical week. The most recent study revealed that the average percentage of adult consumers shopping the previous week, for the major product categories studied, measured 2.46 percent.
The thin-market effect is further complicated by the fact that adults go into and out of the market very quickly. The prevalence of shopping convenience helps explain why 35 percent of shopping occasions are described as planned, while 65 percent are thought of as impulse or spur-of-the-moment. The time period between the decision to buy something and actually buying it is very short for consumers.
In 50 percent of cases, the decision to shop and to purchase is made on the same day. A much smaller number – 18 percent – of purchasing decisions are made as far as a few days in advance. Equally rare is a purchasing decision that extends over a more protracted period – only 18 percent of such decisions to buy are made as far as two weeks or more before the purchase.