Consumer Buying Habits: What You Need to Know

Consumer Buying Habits: What You Need to Know

Has your retail business kept pace with the way consumers prefer to buy today? Shopping habits are changing faster than ever. And there are a myriad of options for shoppers to choose from. So it’s a good idea for every small retailer to regularly consider. What are the latest developments in consumer buying habits?

2019 Consumer Buying Habits

Here are the consumer buying habits you need to know to be prepared for the upcoming 2019 holiday shopping season— and beyond.

Consumers Still Care about Savings

Finding deals will always be a key driver of shopping behavior. A Shopkick study found 42% of shoppers say low prices are the most important incentive when making a purchase. But some consumers are more driven by discounts than others.

BRP Consulting reports that consumers aged 38 and up (what it defines as Traditional Consumers) are more price-driven than Digital Consumers (those aged 18 to 37). Traditional Consumers are more likely to look online for discounts and coupons and compare prices; competitive pricing is their biggest concern when shopping.

If your target market is shoppers 38 and older, promoting your special offers, sales and coupons online is a highly effective way to reach them. This age group does a lot of online research around prices before purchasing.

Savings as Self-care

When it comes to purchasing pricey products, a lot of guilt can accompany such a splurge. Perhaps that’s why some shoppers are now defining the satisfaction of successful bargain-hunting as a form of self-care, according to Criteo research reported by The Drum. “Driven by the thrill of the chase…, self-care shoppers get their enjoyment from the careful consideration of a purchase earned,” The Drum says.

If your store sells products that are “nice to have” rather than essentials, such as fashion, cosmetics or consumer electronics, you can attract this new breed of bargain-seeking shoppers with marketing that does more than focus solely on savings. Congratulate the buyer for their success in seeking out the best deals. Convince them they deserve the splurge — especially when they’ve done such hard work to find savings that deliver real value.

What’s in Store?

There’s one primary reason shoppers of all ages visit physical stores instead of shopping online. They want to get their hands on the specific products they want quickly. This is especially important for Traditional Consumers aged 38 and older, nearly two-thirds (63%) of whom choose a store based on the associates’ ability to order out-of-stock products.

To meet this need, make sure your inventory system allows you to track products in real-time so you can accurately inform customers what’s in stock. Set up a system for ordering out-of-stock products for rapid delivery, either to the store or to the customer’s home. Be sure to promote your ability to order products for shoppers, both in-store and on your website—many shoppers won’t assume this option exists unless you let them know.

Phoning It In

Although U.S. consumers still shop predominantly in physical stores rather than online, mobile phones have become an increasingly integral part of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, according to Mercator Advisory Group’s report 2019 Customer Merchant Experience: Offline Shopping Is Not Dead. This upcoming holiday season, a whopping 84% of shoppers will use their smartphones in-store to research products, look up product reviews and look for deals, according to the Shopkick study.

Overall, Shopkick reports, Generation Z is the demographic that’s most likely to use mobile phones in-store (as well as the generation most likely to shop in-store rather than online). However, millennials are more likely than other generations to actually shop on their mobile phones; about one-third will do so this holiday season. If your business has an e-commerce component, make sure the mobile shopping experience is seamless.

To cater to smartphone users in-store, be sure your store offers free WiFi on a separate guest network. Now is also a good time to set up a loyalty program that has a mobile app (if you don’t already have one). The more you can engage customers with your business (not just with online searching) on their phones, the better. What’s more, digital loyalty programs that alert shoppers to offers when they’re in-store or encourage additional purchases can help drive sales. This is especially appealing to the 65% of Digital Consumers who like getting personalized communications and recommendations from retailers.

Stay in tune with how shoppers like to browse and buy. And you can give your retail store a competitive edge in increasingly competitive times.


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.