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Guide | September 30, 2021

Most Common Types of Shoppers and How to Effectively Market to Them

We all once heard about the “evolution of marketing”, from product-based marketing 1.0 to customer-based marketing 2.0, then 3.0, 4.0, and today’s digital-based 5.0 version. But if you take a step back and look at the whole picture, you will see that all marketing trends, whether they be SEO to reach customers better, personalization to serve customers better, pr account-based marketing to cater to specific customer needs better, all trends in marketing scream one same thing: to be successful, all businesses must be customer-centric.

Thus, understanding your customers, their demands, their preferences, their pain points and so on, is essential to building a strong and sustainable business. But everyone shops differently - some live for discounts and coupons while others are hugely influenced by celebrities, product review pages, or KOLs. While marketers love impulsive buyers who make snap decisions and have the tendency to overspend, we must not forget those well-informed customers who do so much research before buying and are arguably the hardest types of customers to convert!

The retail landscape is continuously evolving. Consumer journeys are getting more complex and unique to individual users. Nevertheless, shopper types still exist – and understanding those types is the key to encouraging purchases. Let’s explore 7 different types of shoppers that cover almost everyone. Which one is your target audience and which one do you struggle to reach? Let’s find out!

1. The bargain hunter who loves a good deal (even if they don’t necessarily need the products)

The bargain hunter who loves a good deal (even if they don’t necessarily need the products)

It's all about savings and getting a good deal for the bargain hunter.

Interests:

As the name suggests, the bargain hunter loves nothing more than a good deal, meaning the trigger to their purchase is mainly pricing. They can shop around to find the best price or end up buying things they don’t necessarily need in the first place.

Challenges to market to

To this type of shopper, brand loyalty doesn’t really come into play. They aren't loyal customers but they are the most common type of buyer. In 2020, 88% of buyers used discount codes, according to Statista. 60% of online shoppers reported that discounts were even more important during COVID-19.

How to market to

They can shop around, compare prices and won’t buy until they decide they have the best possible price. Thus, running constant promotion campaigns can be the best solution to make them open their wallets. However, this method has two main drawbacks: First, that will definitely hurt your profit margins and second, it nurtures a bad habit for these customers to wait until sales to buy.

So what can we do?

Host sales on a predictable schedule. Many retailers have clearance sales on certain days of the week; for example, Express regularly has 40% off sales online from 6 p.m. to midnight on Sundays.

Show the value of your product, because stories do sell. By using stories about the origin, the workers, the packaging, and more, you can make an impression to highlight the added value that your product has, how it will save them money in the long run and so on. You could offer a better guarantee or persuade them to revisit your store or website by focusing their attention on other aspects of their purchase decision.

2. The well-informed scholar who is the toughest shopper to convert

The well-informed scholar is the toughest category of shoppers to convert

Well-informed scholars are the toughest category of shoppers to convert.

Interests

According to GE Capital Retail Bank, 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying. The overwhelming majority of retail consumers start their journey with online research.

They love to be the experts and can sit happily in front of a technical product review video if they must. They also want to be recognized for their knowledge and effort invested in becoming an expert, and sellers can do that while furthering their product knowledge and giving them a chance to see the items in person.

How can we do that when we focus on eCommerce? Discover how augmented reality can elevate online shopping experiences, lower your return rate and bring back happy customers to your store.

Challenges to market to

Ask any retail store salesperson, and they’ll tell you that these scholars are the toughest category of shoppers to convert. They’re chronic investigators and dig deep before making a purchase. They know exactly what they want and are likely to track down the best deal.

Retail researchers can be difficult to target, but once you do, they can become repeat customers, as they like to develop trust and a relationship with a brand.

How to market to

Use inventory level display to create urgency around a product: You can create a rush and demand by showing how popular the item is through inventory level display or give them notifications about items that are almost out of stock. This can tap into the marketing psychology principle of scarcity that Apple has been doing for a long time.

Use a good product review strategy: Shoppers today are all digital-native. They seldom purchase a product without going to the internet and searching for information, comparison, and most importantly, reviews to see how the product is going to work for them. In fact, reviews are trusted 12 times more than other marketing materials. People want proof from other consumers that a product or service is worthwhile, not just biased advertising from brands.

Connect with the buyer in the research phase: You want to connect with these customers right at the beginning of their research journey by increasing your store’s visibility on online and mobile channels (SEO and advertising). Through this, they will trust you as you are among the first product-related pages to come in contact with them. And if your content makes them feel like they’re getting insider knowledge or access? They will trust you all the more, and trust is the root of successful, long-term and profitable conversion.

3. The impulse buyer who makes snap decisions

Impulse buyers make snap decisions

Impulse buyers make snap decisions.

Interests

Along with the development of the internet, the easy access to eCommerce anywhere, anytime has created a generation of impulsive buyers. In fact, 52% of millennials are more likely to make impulse purchases than any other generation. The average shopper will make an average of 3 unplanned purchases in 4 out of every 10 store visits they make.

Impulsive buyers are a marketer's dream. They persuade themselves to buy and are more likely to convert once they’re on the purchase path. So, they take very little persuading as purchases are made based on instant gratification. But that doesn’t guarantee loyalty - the root for sustainable business.

Challenges to market to

While it takes little to no effort to persuade these customers (as they persuade themselves to buy), the problem with them is that they are not loyal and we don’t know where to find them.

How to market to

Ensure a smooth purchase process: Since impulse buyers shop on a whim, they want to make their purchases quickly and easily. So make the shopping experience seamless. 

Recommend upselling: Impulse buyers are easy to upsell to and are receptive to recommendations. Make product recommendations for complementary products that they’re likely to add to their cart at the last minute. You should make sure you provide personalized and appropriate product recommendations.

4. The loyalist who everyone loves

Interests

Loyal customers are every retailer's favorite. They love you, come back to shop with you repeatedly and might defend you when a crisis breaks.

Since they already know you and love you, what to focus on is keeping them happy. Many loyal customers aren't fussy about a brand. Instead, they pledge their loyalty to your store or website and become immersed in loyalty programs and online newsletters.

Challenges to market to

  • The purchase journey is not personalized.
  • Make sure you target the right price to the right audience at the right time.

How to market to

Identify and target loyal users: Use the right CRM to collect data on user behavior and serve up personalized recommendations. Marketers can reach out to loyal customers and offer product recommendations based on their previous browsing history. 

Send personalized content: Remember to send notifications to loyal users, informing them about products and services and how they can avail of discounts and free shipping offers.

Providing a seamless shopping experience: This is the best way to win loyal customers. They aren't looking at making purchases based on price or features but the faith that you will continue to do well - they place their trust in the right vendor.

5. The reluctant shopper who is “Just looking around!” 

The reluctant shopper who is “Just looking around!”

The reluctant shopper who is “Just looking around!”

Interests

At brick-and-mortar stores, especially those with a high volume of customers, owners may be very familiar with customers who are just curious about what you have to offer without having any particular items in mind and thus, normally don’t have buying intentions. Their interests?

  • Browsing without shopping.
  • Purchasing as a necessity, without the desire to buy.

Challenges to market to

They make up a large part of most website traffic (online and offline) but they’re low in revenue due to their lack of buying intentions and mere curiosity. What can possibly change them (but very slowly) is using content and marketing tactics such as coupons, emails, and mini-games (with good gifts) to engage and educate them enough to convert them.

Typically, the browsing customer is motivated to make a purchase based on an experience or a connection.

How to market to

Increased engagement: These shoppers would rather do something other than shopping. This means they require increased engagement to make the purchase. Reluctant shoppers are looking to make a purchase but are reluctant to do so because of price, information overload, or not enough information. They aren’t sure of what to buy. Since they haven’t zeroed in on a product, be sure to utilize smart filters and provide the information needed to make an informed purchase.

Treated with the right attitude: Either in physical or online stores, customers who are “only looking around” should be acknowledged, but generally left alone. If someone’s behavior tells you that they’re just browsing, respond positively to make sure they feel welcome, recommend them with related items to their browsing history and the latest promotions. If they agree to leave some piece of information such as email - that’s brilliant! You can regularly send them content related to their interest such as top tips to choose a nice pair of jeans (if they click on jeans products) and perhaps casually mention that you have some new arrivals or items on sale.

Other than that though, it’s best to let them be and give them useful and delightful information, but not too much until they ask for help.

Another idea? Encourage impulse buys. Let customers who just want to look around do just that, but consider having easy-to-grab items around that can make for good impulse purchases.

6.  The determined shopper who is on a mission

Interests

Buyers on a mission are sometimes called “list shoppers” because they already have a physical or mental note of what to buy, and they stick to that. They are mostly need-based and rarely impulsive because, because for them, buying is driven strictly by need and not because they necessarily enjoy shopping.

So when they have no interest in the buying journey, what do they want? They want the fastest, smoothest shopping experience. Anything you can do to make their experience pain-free will surely boost their liking of your brand and make them more likely to return.

Challenges to market to

Because they are not impulsive and don't enjoy shopping, it’s hard to upsell to them (and your efforts can be counterproductive). They may or may not have adequate knowledge about the item - either way, make sure that they can:

  • Find you easily on the Internet (SEO, recommended shops on marketplaces, advertising, so on).
  • Ask you questions about the items whenever they want but not have you stuck to their side interfering with their buying mission. The best thing you can do is simply not get in their way. If they have questions, give them straight-up answers and don’t try to upsell.

How to market to

Fast, fast, and faster: These are customers who already know what they want and intend to just get in and out of your store. They want to get their hands on their purchases ASAP so they can leave and get back to doing other things. You need to have a lean design in your eCommerce sites, and a smooth checkout session with customer’s favorite payment methods.

Offer buy-online, pickup in-store (O2O experience): Time-crunched shoppers often choose to purchase from stores that let them place orders online and pick up the same day. Offering pickup services will also completely cut out all of the actual shopping for a mission-driven buyer.

Gift guides availability: Make shoppers’ lives easier by offering gift guides and other inspirational materials that will take the thinking out of shopping and make your customers’ shopping missions easier to accomplish.

7. The social shopper who can be influenced by others

The social shopper who can be influenced by others

The social shopper can be influenced by others.

Interests

According to CSA, one-third of U.S. consumers use social media to discover products to buy, but that percentage rises for shoppers under 35. Breaking down by age, that number climbs to 43% of 18-to-24-year-olds and 47% of 25-to-34-year-olds. They are all social shoppers.

Social shoppers are consumers who regularly use social networks and apps, smartphones, and location-based services as part of their shopping lifestyle. They spend so much time online that most of their product discovering phase happens on the internet, whether it is on the latest video from a famous streamer or a trending piece of clothing, for example, Dua Lipa’s crochet bikini.

Challenges to market to

Because they are mostly tech-savvy, they often fall into two main categories: Saturation or lack of information. Thus, to persuade them to open their wallet, marketers must find them where they are (social networks) and educate them enough to befriend and convert them.

How to market to

Be where the customer is: The social shopper is most likely to discover your product or service through social media channels like Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook. To engage with social shoppers, it is imperative that you have social experiences added to your web store.

Engage in conversations and stories about your product to grab their attention: Social media influencers who curate your product and build your brand image across social media platforms can work wonders with this shopper segment.

Taking care of what the internet is saying about you: When shopping on a brand or retailer’s website, 42% of consumers won’t purchase if there isn’t user-generated content available on the product page they’re on. And nearly half (49%) of shoppers look on product pages for customer photos, followed by other websites where the product is sold (47%) and search engines (35%).

Wrap up

The pandemic has taught all of us how quickly the world can change. As it continues to evolve, businesses need to be willing, able, and most importantly, prepared to change course. Retailers should rethink how they can blend their new digital offerings with their existing on-site offerings, to create an innovative combined overall experience that will exceed customer expectations.

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