The holiday season, despite its one eve of festivity, absorbs anywhere from weeks to months of our time as shoppers and consumers, and even more so if we are marketers. It evokes the anxiety, well pondered over in days when brands battled for loyal consumers. Attracting one and all with the glitterarti of lights that brighten up the night sky for miles, attracting shutterbugs and stories for lifetimes. One has to think of all the historical, traditional efforts put into the likes of Macy’s and Harrod’s, juxtaposed against a modern lifestyle of lesser and lesser offline shopping.
However in today’s world, with retailers opening up stores way into the middle of the night, if not 24 hours, and with online accounting for a large chunk of decision making, if not sales, the dynamic has become muddled, and all the more interesting to explore. Despite decadent window displays of Christmas chocolate architecture or humane mannequins in theatrical poses in a luxury London, for instance, which have perhaps become more tourist attractions than reliable sources of revenue, many have chosen the online world as a foray into replacement shopping. Convenient, faster, and to a certain degree, almost less magical.
On drawing comparisons between the online and offline world, alongside the regularity of last minute versus planned shoppers, a two by two matrix on uncovering four holiday shopping personalities can be deduced. Let’s call it The Timed Shopping Framework, since it can apply to any phase of life when we have to shop with a deadline.
Purchasing Power: High. It’s unlikely that these shoppers will be looking for deals, but are more in a frantic rush to buy something while multitasking a busy corporate or bustling alternative life; thus the restraint from going in stores.
Retailer Benefit: Shipping fees. Consumers in this segment may be blind to free shipping coupons in all the haste, so retailers can gobble up any margins on those exorbitant overnight fees.
Purchasing Power: Moderate. These shoppers will likely have scouted the deals, almost as early as Black Friday and Thanksgiving. Being deal hunters, it’s not to say they are budget battlers: rather the contrary, they are likely to spend in volume. Call them indecisive, or on the other spectrum, simply smart with a cool variety of friends.
Retailer Benefit: Volume purchase and loyalty. It’s likely that these shoppers will seek deals with enough prowess to use coupon codes or minimum purchase requirements to benefit retailers, either with volume or future loyalty.
Purchasing Power: Moderate. These are traditional shoppers that would rather drive to the stores come fall, and load up their trunks and rear seats with less shopping on a periodic basis. And they never forget the wrapping, bows, cards and frills. These shoppers either have a sense of detail, or are simply preventing an anxiety attack, as per a former framework.
Retailer Benefit: Traditional store sales, which as we all know, may not be real value sales, but well marketed ones. Nonetheless, courtesy of methodical research, retailers should not expect these consumers to be strong spenders.
Purchasing Power: High. These shoppers have simply had no time in bustling lives, and tend to leave things to the last minute. With about half of their preferred selections disappearing off shelves, they are likely to be struck by anxiety and spend more than they need. Sans details, they may skip the frills and even ask for gift wrapped gifts altogether! Just beware that these folks may be struck by stress more often than not; even in public.
Retailer Benefit: Revenues from last minute shopping. Retailers can expect high spending from these consumers, with a slight dose of stress depending on the level of shopper persistence. It will be easy to entice them with leftover, often non-sale items, or with stocking stuffers.
Sourabh Sharma, Senior Manager and Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an boutique marketing research consultancy, has a background in engineering, marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting, he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer, and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called 3FS. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on @sssourabh.