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Trick or Treat? The Truth About Today's Shoppers

Posted on 10.27.2011


With the height of the holiday shopping season just weeks away, it’s in the best interest of online retailers to cull every bit of data they can about today’s consumers and what they may bring to the table come November and December.

One of the more informative and perhaps surprising reports comes from performance marketing agency Performics, which reports that men are more likely than women to conduct five of six social shopping activities online. Contradicting commonly held beliefs about gender and social behaviors, the study showed that men more frequently research product information, read reviews, compare products, find product availability and get store information via social networks, shopping and deal sites.

Women, meanwhile, reign supreme when searching for deals, coupons and specials on similar sites.

“Women are reported to control about 80 percent of household spending, so it may be surprising for some to see men play a more dominant role in the social shopping and research process,” says Dana Todd, a senior vice president of marketing and business development for Performics. “But given recent reports of ‘digital dads’ and increases in shared shopping activities across genders, this new data is intriguing. We’ve layered social network behavior with shopping patterns and the results are helpful for marketers trying to predict how social shopping figures into upcoming holiday campaigns. Many may not have considered specifically targeting men in social ads.”

One of the most helpful takeaways from the study can help marketers do just that more effectively. With the exception of Facebook, as the report's data below shows, men frequent social networking sites substantially more than women do:

•    YouTube (54 vs. 34 percent)
•    Twitter (37 vs. 24 percent)
•    Google+ (36 vs. 24 percent)
•    Myspace (31 vs. 20 percent)
•    LinkedIn (20 vs. 16 percent)
•    Facebook (96 vs. 97 percent)

The study, conducted by ROI Research Inc., also revealed that active social networkers most often turn to shopping sites like Amazon, eBay or brand websites to begin the purchase process when searching for a product (87 percent), and right before they commit to a purchase (83 percent). They are more likely to turn to social networks such as Facebook immediately after the purchase to share their experience (59 percent).

“Many people have integrated social media in all phases of the shopping process, particularly because Facebook is how they connect with friends on mobile devices and at home. We all do it — asking friends, family or colleagues to weigh in on a purchase, or posting a great find,” says Todd. “But it’s not all about social activity. Shopping and deal sites are certainly holding their own and offer an excellent opportunity for marketers to participate with customers.”

Online activity while shopping in-store is also gaining in popularity, according to the poll. Many respondents said they occasionally or frequently conduct in-store social (20–50 percent) or search (18–62 percent) activities, as the additional findings below show:

•    Sixty-two percent said they conduct competitive price searches while in a retail location
•    Forty-five percent “check-in” at a store
•    Forty-one percent use a search engine on their mobile phone to look for information
•    Thirty percent use a barcode scanner on their mobile phone to shop for prices
•    Twenty-five percent pause while at a physical location prior to finalizing a purchase in order to seek advice on a social network
•    41 percent said they wait between 5 and 10 minutes for advice on social sites before proceeding with their purchase

So, what does it all mean for Web retailers this holiday season? Don't ignore your social media campaigns, of course, and be sure to have a current mobile strategy that includes easily accessible product reviews, price comparisons and QR codes.

Perhaps most important, however? Don't ignore the men this year -- they may be your most important online customers.



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