Customer service Marketing

Holiday Shoppers: A New (Unscientific) Segmentation Model

What a relief!  The holiday shopping frenzy (pre- and post-Christmas sales) is over!

For my own shopping, I use a mix of in-store and on-line purchasing.  The in-store retail experience gives me the opportunity to observe the behaviors of consumers and service providers.  (I’m a social psych major who ended up as a career marketer, so I can’t help it.)

While waiting in long lines at a few stores with centralized check-outs, I noticed three types of consumers:

  • the impatient ones – characterized by frequent checks of their watches, heavy sighing or expressions of disgust, and/or glaring looks at the cashiers in front of the slow-moving lines
  • those clearly overwhelmed by holiday pressures – who wandered around the stores with that “deer-in-the-headlights” look
  • the more patient consumers – who made the best of the situation by socializing with other like-minded folks in line, maintaining goodwill given the spirit of the occasion (“You’ll have this during the peak of the Christmas shopping season …”), and/or rationalizing the trade-off of low service levels for discount prices.  (It’s also possible for some in this segment that their extended tolerance was induced by eggnog or other pre-holiday toasting.)

Granted, some people enjoy the hustle & bustle, sometimes push ’em & shove ’em experience of holiday shopping (including those procrastinators whose goal is to get the latest possible postmark on their April 15th tax returns); but I don’t think it applies to most of the shoppers I observed.

Inclement weather & transit strikes aside, is it any wonder that on-line retailers did so well this holiday season?

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