Emergency Purchasing Situations: Implications for Consumer Decision-Making

This article introduces the emergency purchasing situation (EPS) as a distinct buying context. EPSs stem from an unexpected event (unanticipated need or timing of a need), as well as high product importance, which are associated with a short time frame for consumer decision-making. Our conceptual review integrates largely disconnected strands of research and theories relevant to EPSs and offers a series of independent propositions to understand how these situations might affect consumer decision-making, specifically heuristic versus reflective information processing in product evaluation. We discuss changes induced by the buying context in terms of regulatory focus, perceived time pressure, and stress. Our propositions further account for purchase involvement in the form of product importance, purchase risk, and product substitutability. Finally, we consider how individual differences (expertise and trust) may affect evaluation processes. Our discussion reflects on the implications of our model, avenues for future research, and how an understanding of EPSs can be used to improve managerial practice.