The Digital DNA Behind Holiday Shoppers


Here’s a new twist on marketing in the Internet age: Are you appealing to today’s shoppers’ digital DNA?

According to a recent study conducted by the Global Insights group at MasterCard, each one of the more than 2.5 billion daily Internet users are “consumers wired with a certain digital ‘DNA.’” According to MasterCard, the research can help e-tailers better pinpoint and engage with consumers.

“If retailers can figure out how to leverage these insights and identify their customers in the various segments, they can pick where they want to expend most of their marketing firepower,” says Ted Iacobuzio, vice president of MasterCard's Global Insights group.

The study classifies consumers in one of five “digital personas” based on feelings about sharing personal information online.

“We work increasingly in a global world where people buy goods from all sorts of sources,” Iacobuzio says. “This data clears the deck for retailers and marketers, highlighting what your challenges will be.”

The first of these personas, the “Open Sharers,” make up 21% of all online consumers, of which are 60% male. According to the research, this group is the most digitally-savvy and is less likely to see a risk in sharing information with a retailer, provided they receive something in return like loyalty perks or exclusive knowledge of sales.

Another 21% of online shoppers fall into the “Simply Interactors” category. These people are social-networking fiends, but when it comes to online shopping they keep their information private, lest they be scammed. While the majority does research products online, 63% will go to the store to purchase it.

But ecommerce sites fear not, there is a group of consumers made up of “Solely Shoppers.” They make up another 21% of all online consumers, and 90% of them use the Internet and mobile apps to research and/or purchase products.

Not quite on the opposite end of the spectrum, “Passive Users” rarely frequent social networking sites or research products online, but are more willing to trade personal details for deals, if prompted.

The most private users, “Proactive Protectors,” are skeptical of handing out any information, but mainly because they have the highest awareness (82% say they know) of marketers being able to target them based on their social networking activity and browsing history.

So what does this all amount to?

According to PayPal media network, 68 million consumers shopped at a big box retailer in the past 30 days, and in the past six months, nearly 48 million have made a consumer packaged goods (CPG) purchase in-store. As consumers become savvier shoppers, on- and off-line, retailers need to find ways to stay relevant to loyal and new patrons.

“It’s important for retailers to help consumers shop anywhere, anytime, by introducing technology into their brick-and-mortar shopping experience,” says PayPal Customer Experience Advocate Stacy General.

Iacobuzio offers the phrase “omnichannel retailing strategies” as a solution. One of the key findings of the MasterCard study showed consumers are more likely to share information when “a retailer asks up-front, ‘Tell me a little bit about yourself.’ Really engaging them, rather than observing [habits].”

For smaller retailers, using this tactic and applying this information could help lure new clients and drive more traffic into brick-and-mortar locations.

Mike Henton, owner of Petals & Potpourri, a small antiques and home-goods store in Missouri, says most of their business comes from customers coming to the store, but the shop still maintains a website.

“We’re very much into showing, not selling you on our products,” Henton says, adding that telling the stories behind the products online helps bring people in.