Assuming the study has merit, it may also reveal that recessionary pressures have shifted consumers away from status shopping and more toward being conscientious or frugal. I've parsed some of the study results along with four personality styles that have been identified in previous marketing efforts.
Four Predominant Shopping Behaviors.
• Fretting Frugals (31 percent). They find shopping as enjoyable as a root canal. They are nervous about making the right and wrong choices, are extremely price conscious, and easily overwhelmed. They are the most likely to delay big purchases, not over price but because they want to make the right decision.
For years in marketing, I was taught to consider this behavior style as consistent with analysts, people who pore over lists and make comparisons based on detailed decisions. Price isn't what holds up the purchase as much as making a decision. They are also the least likely to share purchasing decisions to avoid criticism, preferring to look for information that affirms their choices.
• Experience Lovers (29 percent). They consider shopping a labor of love. They are also the most likely to become brand loyalists, convinced that the decisions they make are the right ones and will always be the right ones. The experience is as important as the products they buy.
This might be a new take on the modernized supporter, people who consider everyone's feelings in the household before making what they believe is the right decision. They value their role as making the decisions, carefully balancing the needs of everyone.
• Passive Purchaser (25 percent). They are the most convenience-driven consumers, looking for quick and easy purchases. They do not waste time researching products and are not loyal to brands, but rather make their purchasing decisions based upon intuition.
This most closely resembles a controller, someone who is especially adept at making decisions not because they enjoy it but rather because it needs to be done. They want to know the bottom-line price and benefits without wasting any time.
• Social Adventurer (15 percent). They believe that everything bought is a reflection of style and personality. They are also most likely to tell others about their purchases, mostly because their purchases reflect who they are as a person.
Based upon previous marketing models, they are most like promotors, people who are always looking for the newest ideas, products, and services. They are not brand loyal, but do take more time shopping to find products that seem to be one step ahead. With social networking only recently earning mass adoption, they are well-experienced in letting others know about positive and negative experiences.
Why The Research Might Matter.
Although I'm never fond of the label approach to marketing, the study could be significant in that shopping behaviors have remained relatively equal as a percentage of the population. This study suggests that the social adventurers (promotors) are diminished, perhaps being driven toward conscious or frugal behaviors due to economic pressures.
Such a shift in behavior would be consistent with other studies. Both frugal and conscientious buyers are more likely to seek stability and security, more likely to embrace a new economy, and more likely to appreciate the shopping experience. However, focusing on these behaviors might not be as useful as considering attitude or other psychographics that can help make marketing decisions.
For too long, marketers have been focused on demographics and reach as the two primary indicators in determining their marketing decisions. While such methods can work, they tend to be subservient to focusing on topical interests and attitudes that transcend age, gender, and other demographic bias.