Chromecast – Post Rationalising My Impulse Buy

July 20, 2015

By Sanjana Mathur

The latest toy in my life these days has been Google’s own Chromecast. I got to try it out for the first time at an Airbnb apartment that I stayed at in San Francisco. The Chromecast is a USB-Sized device which plugs into the HDMI port of a TV, essentially making it a smart TV. One can project onto it from mobile devices using apps, and the Chrome browser on computers. Youtube, Netflix, and Videostream are just few of many compatible apps. It works over your wifi network. Although suitably impressed with how well it worked, and the ‘coolness’ of projecting from my phone to my TV, at the time I did not really think of buying it for myself.


I don’t consider myself an impulse buyer, especially not of electronics. In fact, there is usually a couple of weeks of careful googling and comparison that goes on before I even set foot in a store. I stop just short of making an Excel spreadsheet of features.

Despite this, when I came across a Curry’s PC World store back in London, with a sign advertising the Chromecast inside, I found my feet leading me into the store. In that crucial moment of indecision, to buy or ‘come back later’ I felt that it was the price and design of the Chromecast which was the tipping factor.

I’ve found that whenever I have been unsure of purchasing something in-store, usually due to price, I think that “I’ll have a look around and come back”. 95% of the time, I don’t. Although this anecdote is based entirely on personal experience, my gut feeling is that many of you out there can empathise. This moment of decision making is crucial in the consumer purchasing journey. Especially so nowadays, when consumers are increasingly conducting in-depth research before making the buying decision in the electronics sector.

The barrier to entry for impulse-purchase was significantly lowered by pricing the Chromecast at £30. Also, due to the lower price, I had managed expectations of the pen-drive sized device. There were many features I was unsure of, but was willing to take a chance on since there wasn’t a huge amount of money at stake. In contrast, the £50 Apple TV in the same store was raised more doubts in my mind. Just £20 more than the Chromecast, it made me think much more, and also have higher expectations of its capabilities.

To understand this phenomenon a bit more, I did some reading into the Digital TV competition and Impulse Buying, particularly in the Consumer Electronics Sector. Link for study at the bottom of this blog post. Amongst those who had impulse bought electronic goods, many made their comparative choice due to low price. A correlated factor is that 22% of the purchases were accessories (such as batteries, camera optics, cables) followed by headphones, 15%. Apart from just price, I think that the accessory like shape and size of the Chromecast are what help place it as simply an ‘accessory’, and not set-top box in the customer’s mind.

In support of this fact, upon reflection, I realise that perhaps my purchase of the Chromecast was not entirely spontaneous. I had being planning on replacing my 4th broken HDMI cable (in 6 months), and the Chromecast was able to present itself as an alternative. I feel as though I have been ushered from the dark ages of wired connections to the kingdom of wireless.

This article delves deeper into a qualitative analysis of the factors influencing the successes and failures of various video streaming devices:


Since I paid so little for the Chromecast, every success with it, such as being able to cast downloaded videos to my TV, brings me immense joy. The joy of discovery is amplified, since I had done no prior research into it. It has replaced the HDMI cable in my little 1 bedroom household. The smartphone, tablet or laptop being used in conjunction with the Chromecast essentially acts as a remote, which is great as I’ve long since lost my actual television control.

Never has impulse buying been as rewarding an experience as this, and I think being able to inject some of this behaviour into the otherwise planned-purchase led consumer electronics sector has been a major contributing factor to the commercial success of the Chromecast. The official sales number as of May 2015 was 17 million Chromecasts sold. I know that personally I have embraced the Chromecast. All hail the age of wireless technology.

On a side note, I can already begin to see my television watching (or should I say content consumption?) habits changing as a result of the Chromecast. This has also led to me watching far more Youtube videos as actual ‘television’. It will be interesting to see the effect of video-on-demand upon television in the long run.

This blog was originally published on Sanjana Mathur’s personal blog (July 2015).

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