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“You want my opinion? We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love.”
It’s almost certain that beloved author Robert Fulghum — who famously wrote “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” — wasn’t talking about the kind of love that brings brands and customers together here. Though he may as well have.
Good marketers know: As technology advances and consumer preferences shift, new and sometimes unexpected shopping behaviors take shape. And while some of these trends may seem quirky — or even absurd — at first glance, they can provide businesses with valuable insights into the psyche of the modern consumer.
This post examines some of the stranger shopping habits emerging in today’s marketplace, and briefly touches upon the ways brands can meet them in an act of “mutually satisfying weirdness.”
From tipsy Amazon browsing to 3 a.m. freezer splurges, let's take a look at some of the more unconventional consumer behaviors with which today’s brands contend online.
The magnitude of “drunk shopping” (or as Bob Belcher elegantly refers to it, “nighttime shopping with wine”) can be staggering. Ever find yourself pouring a glass of wine or two (or three?) before a casual Amazon browsing session?
If so, you're far from alone: According to the Drunk Shopping Survey from Finder, a financial information company, 17% of Americans shop while under the influence, spending about $309 each. This totaled $14 billion in the past 12 months.
The most common items finding their way into the shopping cart? Shoes, clothing, accessories, and food made up 47% of purchases.
But what about in other areas of the world? Finder’s surveys provide additional data through drunk-colored lenses:
This data can prove insightful for brands looking to capture “influenced” sales. While it’s already important to provide a clear and speedy checkout process, a shopper under the influence might prove more or less determined to complete an order. Ensuring that calls to action (CTAs) on mobile are large and clear, and customer profiles are intelligent enough to save payment details, can ease the checkout process.
A trend arguably rising in tandem with the practice of “drunk shopping,” late-night shopping brings its own quirky consumer behavior to the marketplace.
However, these types of purchases are driven more by the nature of the ever-changing shopping landscape than any kind of chemically induced exuberance. In other words: As the world becomes increasingly digital, once ironclad constraints on commerce (i.e., store hours) tend to vanish as new online shopping behaviors take shape.
According to 2021 data from Eachnight, a collection of online resources for better sleep, more than 60% of survey respondents report making purchases between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m.
Additionally, almost 74% of women and almost 70% of men reported making a purchase past their bedtime in 2021. Across generations too, millennials (75%), Generation X (68%), and baby boomers (58%) report purchasing past their bedtime.
As far as late-night regrets go? Half of respondents were satisfied with their late-night buys, and just 23% reported buyer’s remorse. Sweet dreams, indeed.
With the rise of social media, most shoppers are familiar with the concept of FOMO — fear of missing out — and the influence it’s held over both social and consumer behavior. One study from Finances Online revealed that 56% of all social media users experience FOMO, with the phenomenon highest among millennials at 69%.
But how does this translate to shopping behaviors? Indeed, long before it became a trendy acronym, savvy marketers were already well aware of FOMO’s potency, and leveraging it accordingly. Efforts toward promoting scarcity, limited-time offers, or one-day-only events can serve as a serious nudge on the needle for shoppers on the fence.
Brands can potentially capture late-night and FOMO shoppers in one fell swoop with a flash or secret sale sent as a text or email after hours.
Crowdsourcing is a now well-known method for businesses, entrepreneurs, and creators to raise money and gain insights through online engagement.
While most of these platforms operate on an all-or-nothing funding model — ensuring funds are only received if the campaign goal is met — the sheer variety of projects can be overwhelming.
Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo provide offerings that range from the conventional to extremely outlandish, with many often serving as fodder for popular comedy podcasts.
Despite the perhaps understandable skepticism accompanying these campaigns, many crowdsourcing efforts successfully address niche interests, desires, or solutions, reaping the benefits of previously untapped demands. Crowdsourcing generates a staggering $17.2 billion in North America alone each year, per LinkedIn.
And it's not just startups or individual creators who are benefiting — some larger brands have ventured into crowdsourcing to raise funds and gauge interest.
Analysis from the Harvard Business Review found that customers who had previously funded products in other market segments provided feedback that was 60% more valuable than that of customers who had previously invested in the same category.
In today's digital age, it’s not unusual to find consumers engaged in “multi-layered” media consumption — say, an individual engrossed in a TV show while simultaneously scrolling through social channels or a fan chatroom on their phone, tablet, or laptop.
This shopping behavior, known as second-screen usage, has become particularly prevalent among younger generations, though older demographics are also swiftly catching up.
What drives this dual-screen behavior? For many, the reasons are inherently social and often directly related to the content on the primary screen.
For example, 55% of respondents used a smartphone while watching TV, and 10% reported using a tablet, per Statista. Many users (68%) also look up information on smartphones about actors, athletes, and factoids related to the content they’re watching.
Moreover, activities like emailing or engaging on social media platforms rank high during TV consumption, with 76% and 71% usage rates, respectively.
As you can probably infer: This presents a golden opportunity for brands. As viewers engage with content on their primary screen, they are often influenced to make purchases or explore products on their secondary devices. Brands that can seamlessly integrate their offerings into this dual-screen experience are well-positioned for some significant benefits.
Remember cable channels like QVC? Well, they’re back — this time, in digital form!
This marketing technique, in which a brand hosts live shopping events online, has gained significant traction in recent years, especially on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
Live stream shopping offers customers an opportunity to see products in action, often demonstrated by celebrities or influencers they trust.
However, the purpose of live stream shopping goes beyond mere product demonstration alone: It provides customers with a live forum in which they can ask questions in real-time, engage with hosts, and make on-the-spot purchases based on their interactions. In turn, it deepens the connection between brands and consumers, offering a more immersive and personalized shopping experience.
According to a report flagged by Fit Small Business, a staggering 47% of live streaming retailers anticipate growth in their live stream channels by 10–50% in the next two years.
The aforementioned trends — while no doubt often amusing — can still provide brands with valuable insights into the ever-changing behaviors and preferences of their customers.
The rise of phenomena like second-screen shopping and FOMO-driven purchases underscores the need for businesses to be agile, innovative, and responsive — whenever and wherever their quirkiest shoppers may be “doing their thing.” Remember: It’s not just about offering products anymore; it's about crafting experiences, telling stories, and building connections.
That’s one reason why a robust product experience management (PXM) solution is an essential tool for brands looking to stand out amid their competition on the digital shelf. As customers hop from platform to platform, device to device, a PXM solution will ensure that they receive consistent, optimized, and accurate information across all of your numerous touch points and channels.
Beyond just information consistency, PXM also empowers brands to craft personalized shopping experiences tailored to individual customer preferences, behaviors, and feedback. For example, brands can curate special offers or product recommendations for consumers known to indulge in late-night shopping.
As your consumer’s shopping habits get increasingly idiosyncratic, a PXM can help you find the patterns and bridge the gaps to purchase that may arise — allowing those moments of “mutually satisfying weirdness” to emerge.
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