Consumer spending has continued to outperform economists’ expectations. Despite 2020’s pandemic, U.S. shoppers still intend to spend more this year on holiday shopping than ever before, according to researchers at the National Retail Federation.
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Source: U.S. Census data compiled by the National Retail Federation

However, shopping behavior has changed drastically. No longer can small business owners rely on their old tricks to reel in the varied personalities — or buyer personas — behind the metrics. Buyer personas are hypothetical characters crafted by business owners to show how consumers may behave in different scenarios. We create these persona examples to acquaint ourselves with real segments of the population. This mental exercise teaches us how to serve them better and, in turn, grow our businesses.

As 2020 has prompted so much behavior change, it’s a perfect time to revisit traditional holiday persona examples and see how these folks are adapting to this year’s unusual shopping landscape.

The 2020 holiday bargain hunter

Scouting deals thrill people in every demographic. Old, young, urban, rural, low- and high-income segments all include people who like to score a deal. This year, though, bargain hunters’ habits have changed.

Characteristics of the bargain hunter

The first and most important thing to know about sale-scouting coupon-clippers is that — as we saw earlier — they’re everywhere. Nearly half of holiday shoppers this year prioritize better prices and promotions over other purchasing factors.
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Source: McKinsey 2020 Holiday Season Report

They’re also strategic, often shrewdly stockpiling clearance items for future 2021 gift-giving occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and graduations.

Finally, you should know that even though consumer spending is up in general, so is financial mindfulness. Another recent McKinsey report shows that 40% of Americans say they’re more mindful of where they spend their money since the pandemic began, and 31% say they’re switching to less expensive products.
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Source: McKinsey and Co., “A global view of how consumer behavior is changing amid COVID-19.”

So, even folks who don’t traditionally scout sales will be interested in spending wisely this season.

How to connect with this buyer persona

Get this shopper’s attention by putting your promotions on Honey and Capital One Shopping (formerly Wikibuy) for maximum online exposure. Show original prices alongside sale prices to spark excitement — the bigger the discount, the more likely the purchase.

Offer a first-time customer discount at checkout to further delight bargain-hunting shoppers. And finally, have frontline sales folks and customer service representatives congratulate and celebrate with these fortunate shoppers on their brilliant “finds.”

The 2020 holiday impulse buyer

Nearly three-quarters — 72% — of people have said they’ve bought something impulsively to improve their mood since the pandemic began. And why not? Acting spontaneously feels great. Here’s what you should know about these dynamic shoppers this year.

Characteristics of the impulse buyer

Impulse shoppers may not behave like other persona examples. Instead of scouring reviews, they’re often influenced by timely suggestions. Traditionally, they’ve found themselves shopping for one gift recipient, but then impulsively buying all their friends and family members gifts at the same store. This year, though, online everything may prompt them to browse for gifts based on interruptive ads and popup suggestions — tactics that would bother other, more strategic shoppers.

Another trait of this fun group is the pleasure — the sheer joy — they experience while whimsically choosing items.

“You leave feeling happy because you got some new bowls or a new pair of shoes and you didn’t break the bank,” explain Jen Coleman and Laura Wiertzema of the popular Instagram account @targetdoesitagain. “It’s instant gratification!”

The thrill isn’t the item. And unlike with our bargain hunters, it’s not the competition, either. It’s the freedom of deciding in the moment instead of needing to cautiously think through things.

During our recent global pandemic, impulse shopping also served consumers as a rare comfort. Reporters at USA Today explained that the combination of novelty and feelings of control are driving people to shop impulsively while faced with uncertainty.

How to connect with this buyer persona

Among buyer persona examples, reach this one first by acknowledging their reflexes and offering relief. Consumer Reports gains favor with readers by naming the feeling an “urge” and approving the sensation throughout their messages.

Next, target the same segment again and again on social and other digital channels. While some PPC (pay-per-click) experts say multiple impressions are a waste, with the impulsive holiday shopper, it’s not. Experts at Consumer Affairs report that people who were exposed to products before they arrived onsite (and saw the items again in-store) were twice as likely to pick up those unplanned purchases.

Another way to motivate these folks is to create a sense of urgency. Display the dwindling number of items available (“Nine left in stock!”) or count down to when the offer will become unavailable (“price guaranteed for the next ______ minutes”).

Finally, break down any mental friction your impulsive shoppers may feel during checkout. Display your security logos and trust marks to show your reliability as a business. Offer easy returns to help convince spontaneous buyers they aren’t committed to the item forever if they don’t love it. And, of course, add another suggested item on your order confirmation page — something for that someone they haven’t yet crossed off the list.

The 2020 holiday evangelist

The only thing more profitable than a customer is — you guessed it — a customer who refers friends and family. Let’s take a look at how these particular persona examples operate and how to reach them this year.

Characteristics of the evangelist

Evangelistic customers love to be known. Their friends may say they share “TMI” or “too much information,” but that doesn’t dampen their spirits. Evangelists can’t help but share their favorite experiences. They don’t just tell others about their shopping adventures — they show pictures and even videos.

Another evangelist’s objective is to cheer friends up and assist other people in their own holiday shopping. They often check for “likes” and comments on their social media posts, analyzing why one update outperforms the others.

This group wants help looking good. That may mean they want to appear thoughtful, shrewd, successful, generous, or powerful — or all the above. The businesses they frequent can help them with that.

Smart businesses respect these shoppers because watch out — they’ll broadcast their bad experiences almost as vocally as good ones.

How to connect with this buyer persona

Remember, this personality loves to be known. A recent study of frequent “online sharers” conducted by the New York Times Customer Insight Group revealed that 68% of them share to illustrate to others more clearly who, exactly, they are. This means that during the holidays, evangelists often share their favorite products and services by buying people gift cards. The move encourages others to experience something new — while learning more about the gift-giver.

This year, when 59% of U.S. shoppers said they’d be doing more online shopping, evangelists are only a tap or swipe away from publishing their haul. So, use your order confirmation page to thank customers — and to encourage them to share. Make the task frictionless by including “share now” buttons to social channels and sample text they can copy and paste to express themselves.

Other ideas include offering incentives to refer others or creating a branded photo frame to tease gift recipients.

One thing to remember is that when your customers do share about your brand, engage back. Like, share, and comment on their posts to encourage them and others to keep the conversation going.

The 2020 holiday loyalist

Loyal customers are the lifeblood of any growing business. This year presents a unique opportunity to keep the loyalists you have while attracting new ones.

Characteristics of the loyalist

This is the shopper who typically gets people the same thing each year. They think, Hey, if it works, why switch things up? They’re usually comfortable in a routine, and that includes holiday gift buying. Clearly, 2020 has upset many of their rituals.

In 2020, new customers may be coming to you reluctantly, out of necessity. Show them extra grace. Switching brands can be difficult, but alternate small businesses like yours can offer comforting new experiences. You believe your solution is better than your competitors, so this is a unique time to shine.

How to connect with this buyer persona

Your only job here is to outperform a loyalist’s previous experience. McKinsey analysts have found that among Americans who changed their shopping behavior since the pandemic began, 75%-83% say they intend to continue their new method of discovering and purchasing goods and services, even after brick-and-mortar stores completely reopen.
image.png Source: McKinsey’s 2020 Holiday Season Report

Price-per-value is the number-one reason loyal shoppers cite for their allegiance to their favorite retailers, so start there. Make sure you’re offering the best — for less.

Then, stay in touch. Send notes or messages throughout the year, so shoppers view your business as more than just a holiday solution. Mail them product samples, so they can try your other offerings risk-free. Loyalty goes two ways, so express it to earn it.

The 2020 holiday conscientious shopper

More and more, people care about businesses that take ownership of the derivative impact they have. Like many trends, the pandemic of 2020 has only served to accelerate this shift.

Characteristics of the conscientious shopper

Traditionally, this shopper prioritized supply chain responsibility in the areas of environmental sustainability, social welfare, and human rights. This year, though, the conscientious shopper also wants to know how you’re handling your customers’, employees’, and vendors’ safety and compensation.

They also want to know how you’re handling resources like taxpayers’ stimulus money and any extra resources like unused warehouse space, restaurant equipment, and even your influence.

How to connect with this buyer persona

In calmer times, it’s good to be demure about your business’s good works. But in 2020, it’s imperative you tell the world how you’re contributing.

Include package inserts highlighting your ongoing handling of the pandemic and its effects. Publish details of your philanthropic giving. Donate meals, supplies, and gifts to frontline workers. Broadcast online workshops and/or encouragement and entertainment to lift the spirits of teachers, hospital workers, delivery people, and other frontline heroes. Then, highlight, praise, and partner with other companies doing good pandemic relief-related work.

Not only will you attract conscientious shoppers, but you’ll also inspire others to offer help, maximizing everyone’s share.

Keep these persona examples engaged into 2021 and beyond

Holiday shopping has not been not canceled and neither will consumer spending in 2021. The latest reports from the Wall Street Journal tell us that consumer spending has increased for six straight months and, so far, shows no signs of tapering off.
image.png Source: the U.S. Department of Commerce via the Wall Street Journal

To capture your share of the spending, dig further into 2020’s emerging holiday personas. Keep an eye on monitors like Deloitte’s real-time emerging trends tracker. The pandemic and subsequent consumer behavior are bringing out characters like stockpilers, convenience seekers, and more.

As you execute on these suggestions, you’ll likely gain more customers. The new business may burden your already-stressed and complicated bookkeeping processes. Get ahead of this problem instead of waiting for it to happen to you. Download the Neat app and start uploading your transactions today. Our free 15-day trial will show you just how well an organized, tidy, and up-to-date ledger can free up your mind (and workload!) for an influx of business like the holidays.