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How to categorize the types of shoppers using surveys

Surveys can segment your shoppers to make your marketing more effective. We can help.

Many companies are rethinking the way they do business since the COVID-19 pandemic. As you rethink business strategies, it’s more important than ever to understand your customers. With that in mind, companies are creating updated shopper profiles with detailed descriptions of their ideal or target consumers in an effort to know customers better and meet their purchasing needs.

Shopper profiles can include demographic, geographic, and psychographic information, but the key components of these profiles are the insights into how they shop and what drives them to make a purchase. This information helps you to develop a shopping experience that caters to the way your customers shop. Part of this process is categorizing your shoppers.

To categorize your shoppers, start with consumer segmentation. You may have already created buyer personas, but shopper types are different. They are focused solely on shopping and buying behaviors. Once you’ve conducted your surveys and gathered your data, you will be able to identify which of the eight common shopper types are your main shoppers.

Let’s explore those eight types of shoppers, so you can identify who shops with you. With this information, you can create tailored shopping experiences that facilitate purchases in-person or online.

We’re going to look at eight common types of shoppers. For each one, we will examine their general behaviors, needs, and action items that may help you make the sale with them. Do you recognize any of these types as your shoppers?

Bargain hunters, also known as discount shoppers, are found in most retail stores—both in-person and online. They are usually armed with discount codes, coupons, sales flyers, and promo codes. Bargain hunters rarely make a purchase if there isn’t a deal, and their purchases largely depend on price and the feeling of saving money.

This type of shopper needs deals and sales to motivate them to make a purchase. If bargain hunters are prevalent in your business, keep this at the forefront of your mind as you create a pricing strategy and/or rewards program that will provide ongoing satisfaction in their quest for the best deal.

Use these strategies to appeal to the bargain hunter:

  • Promo pricing
  • Anchor pricing
  • Sales on a predictable schedule
  • Flash sales
  • Clearance end-of-season items
  • Rewards program providing discounts

The browser is the customer who is walking through the store with no specific purchase in mind. Also called wandering customers, this type of shopper may have just happened upon your store and is curious about what it contains—they are not necessarily thinking of making a purchase.

The browser is typically motivated by an experience or connection, such as a souvenir purchase to remember a vacation or a tchotchke that reminds them of home. Gift, souvenir, and book shops often have a large number of browsers.

Marketing strategies that work with browsers:

  • Welcoming, comfortable atmosphere
  • Place profitable, bestselling items where they will easily see
  • Offer a selection of small items that have meaning
  • Use signage for storytelling to connect the shopper with a product
  • Give shoppers who are “just looking” space to do just that

Showrooming is the practice of going into a brick-and-mortar store to view or test a product and then make the final purchase online. These shoppers are prevalent in stores that sell mattresses, furniture, appliances, and large electronics. They examine the products thoroughly and then purchase them for a reduced price from an online retailer.

The showrooming customer can be won over if you can make the purchase, including delivery and installation, fast and easily.

Try these ideas to sell to the showrooming customer:

  • Simplify delivery and installation
  • Sell exclusive products 
  • Offer product customization
  • Use a hybrid model, so in-store showroomers will buy from your website
  • Offer price-matching

Lots of shoppers have a little impulse buyer in them. The impulse buyer makes purchases on the spur of the moment. They may buy small things that catch their eye or make larger purchases in the throes of emotional shopping or retail therapy.

Because the purchases are made on a whim, it’s not necessarily addressing any “need.” The impulse buyer is trying to satisfy an urge. The best way to appeal to them is with a clean, well-organized space with helpful staff. Eye-catching displays are key in attracting impulse buyers.

These may help you tap into your impulse buyers’ desire to buy:

  • Place small, brightly packaged items in an aisle on the way to the register
  • Place frequently purchased items such as mints, umbrellas, chocolate, mints, and gift cards near the checkout
  • Make sure you have ample staff for quick checkout
  • Put displays of special items in areas that disrupt the flow through the store

Your mission-driven buyers are usually armed with lists. They are shopping for particular items, and they’ve come prepared to buy them. These shoppers are also referred to as list shoppers or reluctant shoppers because their shopping is need-based rather than for enjoyment.

Your way into a mission-driven buyer’s heart is anything that makes their task faster and easier. 

Things that appeal to mission-driven shoppers:

  • Offer multiple ways to shop
    • Shop and buy in-store
    • Shop online and pick it up in-store
    • Shop online and pick it up at curbside
  • Create a shopping app that allows customers to enter their lists so it can organize it by store map
  • Use a website with a search function to find products
  • Cross merchandise-related products (think croutons in the salad dressing aisle)

The indecisive customer wants to make a purchase, but something is stopping them—price, insufficient research or information, or too much information. 

Appeal to the indecisive customer by helping them feel assured that they are making the right decision. That little bump in their confidence may lead them to purchase. The keys to effectively assisting them through the process are patience, helpfulness, and encouragement, paired with trained and knowledgeable staff.

Tips for winning over indecisive shoppers include:

  • Using descriptive displays that include information that may help in purchase decisions
  • Offer warranties and simple return policies
  • Ask questions to help them find what they need
  • Train employees on helpful customer communication
  • Be ready to present other products that might be a good fit

Your educated customer has done their online research. They’ve scoured the internet for customer reviews, researched specifications, read critic reviews, gathered general pricing information, and checked whether your store has the item in stock. By the time they hit your store, they have a good idea of what they want to buy.

Even though they’ve done their online research, educated buyers tend to want to ask questions. Do you have this particular model in stock? Do many people return this product? Do you know if people have had problems with assembly? These questions help them understand your store’s firsthand experience with the product they are considering. They will also want to view the product in person before completing the purchase.

Help your educated customer by:

  • Ensuring your website and in-store stock is aligned and up-to-date
  • Adding value with gifts with purchase, warranties, customization, or special member pricing
  • Educating your staff so they can answer the questions that aren’t online

Your favorite customers are likely your loyal, regular customers. They visit frequently and purchase often. The loyal customer is your most valuable customer because they normally spend more than others, recommend your company, and provide repeat business.

The loyal customer loves that you know them by name, set things aside that you think they’d like and treat them like VIPs.

Try these to make your loyal customers feel special:

  • Exclusive rewards or loyalty programs
  • Referral programs with rewards
  • Include them in focus groups
  • Get to know them by name, preferences, and needs

You may have an idea of your main shopper types based on observations, but wouldn’t you rather make decisions that are backed by data?

Surveys are the best way to gather qualitative and quantitative shopper data because the information comes directly from shoppers in your target market. 

The collected data can be used to segment your group by type of shopper, which can influence everything from store layout to pricing to employee training.

A shopper insights survey is a type of market research that is used to enhance your business’s knowledge of its customers’ behaviors and experiences. By using these insights to segment your customers by type of shopper, you can tailor the shopping experience to increase the likelihood of purchase.

Use surveys to ask what led the customer to make a purchase and to sort impulse buyers from mission-driven shoppers. Find out what stopped customers from completing a purchase—were they showrooming, indecisive, or your website process? Determine what kind of research led your educated shopper to your door. 

Our ultimate guide to shopper insights sheds more light on what you can find out about your shoppers, why the knowledge will help you, and what information you should be collecting. Start your research with our shopper insights survey template, a fully customizable tool for gathering data. Add your logo, colors, and other branding elements, or keep it anonymous and enhance user experience with custom colors and graphics.

Example questions from a shoppers insight’s survey include:

For which of the following are you the primary decision-maker in your household? (select all that apply)

  • Groceries
  • Personal care items
  • Lawn and garden
  • Home insurance
  • Pet care
  • Travel
  • Home maintenance
  • Home decor
  • None of the above

Which of the following is most influential in your purchasing decisions?

  • Recommendation from a friend, family, or colleague
  • Social media
  • Online reviews
  • TV commercials
  • Radio advertisements
  • Other (please specify)

Do you typically decide ahead of time which product brands you are going to buy?

  • I decide ahead
  • I decide at the time of purchase

How often do you wait for sales, promotions, or coupons to make a large purchase?

  • Always
  • Most of the time
  • Sometimes
  • Rarely
  • Never

How often do you purchase something on impulse?

  • Always
  • Most of the time
  • Sometimes
  • Rarely
  • Never

We suggest adding questions specific to your industry for the most detailed results.

A purchase intentions survey measures the extent to which your customers are interested and inclined to make a purchase from you within a specified time frame, typically the next 6–12 months. Their survey answers help you determine if they intend to purchase from you or not.

This survey data will help identify your educated shoppers because they begin researching their purchases in advance. Your bargain hunter may be just waiting for the right price, but they intend to buy. The mission-driven shopper is very organized, so they will likely have a plan in place before purchase. And your loyal customers return again and again, so it’s likely they’ll be shopping with you in the provided time frame.

Examples of purchase intent survey questions include:

To what extent do you agree with the following statement?

I am planning to buy a new laptop computer within the next 12 months.

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

What is the likelihood that you will choose Brand X over Brand Y?

(insert rating scale 0-10)

Rank the following laptop brands in order of preference.

  • Apple (Mac)
  • HP
  • Lenovo
  • Microsoft
  • Asus
  • Other (please specify)

When do you intend to shop for a new laptop computer?

  • Within the next 3 months
  • Within the next 6 months
  • Within the next 9 months
  • Within the next 12 months
  • I do not intend to purchase a new laptop computer this year

Tailor questions to your business and industry to collect the most relevant information.

A shopping motivation survey assists you in understanding why your customers are shopping. What need are they trying to satisfy? Why did they choose your store? Why did they complete their purchase? 

Motivation is a key piece of knowledge in categorizing your shoppers. Some may be obvious, like the bargain hunter using a promotion. The mission-driven shopper has an item on their list that needs to be checked off. And your loyal customer will return to your store motivated by their loyalty.

What about the educated shopper? What motivated their decision to research a particular product? What brought them to your store?

It may prove to be very enlightening to find out why the impulse buyer makes a purchase. Was it the way the item was displayed? Did something about the location trigger a need or craving? Did the store's layout deliver them the right product at just the right time?

Browsers, indecisive, and showrooming customers may or may not have a motivation that leads to actually making a purchase. But if they do, don’t you want to know why?

Once you figure out what motivates your customers to make purchases, you can use that information to inform your marketing, advertising, employee training, store displays, store layout, and more to increase sales and revenue.

Examples of survey questions about customer motivation:

Why did you choose to make a purchase from Store A?

  • Convenient location
  • Price
  • Sale
  • Online recommendation of the store
  • Customer reviews of the store
  • Other (please specify)

Which of the following factors impacted your decision to make a purchase today?

  • Store display
  • Location of product in store
  • Employee knowledge
  • Viewing product in-person
  • Store layout
  • Store ambiance

On a scale of 0–10 how easy was it to make your purchase from Store A?

(provide rating scale)

How likely are you to recommend Store A to a friend or colleague?

  • Very likely
  • Somewhat likely
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat unlikely
  • Very unlikely

Used with your purchase intention survey questions, these insights into motivation will help you identify the types of shoppers you see in your store and find ways to market to them effectively.

Surveys deliver customer data directly from your shoppers. Get to know what kind of shoppers frequent your business, and how to best help them make the purchase they need. Customizing the shopping experience to your main customer types will help you make more sales and create a shopping experience that’s much more enjoyable—even for the mission-driven shopper.

Go beyond shopper types and find out even more about your customers with our Usage & Attitudes solution. The results will guide your marketing and advertising efforts for maximum effectiveness. And if you’re interested in more information about consumer segmentation, we’re always right here to help.

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