Wharton study describes consumers' shopping habits


Seventy-five percent of those surveyed are 'brick-and-mortar' shoppers who shop in-store




As shoppers prepare for the holiday season, they may spend their time looking at department store labels. But a new study released last week could start putting labels on the shoppers themselves.

On Thursday, the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center — which is part of the Wharton School — and the Verde Group released a study that investigated consumers’ shopping habits.

The study focused on the variety of ways in which shoppers can interact with stores across four different channels: in-store, cell phone, catalogue and internet shopping. Of the 1,221 shoppers surveyed online, about 75 percent reported that they shop in brick and mortar stores — which are stores that have a physical presence and not just an online one.

“There is a whole lot of speculation … and we just wanted to get some real information,” said Wharton marketing professor Barbara Kahn, director of the Baker Center.

Kahn added that the study labeled shoppers in one of four different ways: the tech-savvy multi-channel shopper, the retailer-loyalist multi-channel shopper, the discerning online shopper and the experiential bricks-and-mortar shopper.

“People are different,” Kahn said. “Some people still prefer the offline experience, [and some] people like all the different channels … That doesn’t mean that we’ve given up old-fashioned shopping.”

College sophomore Danielle Marryshow sees herself as a tech-savvy multi-channel shopper — which, according to the study, utilizes all channels to make purchases.

“I use many different channels,” she wrote in an email. “I’ll do in-store or online [shopping] depending on whether I’m valuing convenience or the social aspect.”

Marryshow added that she prefers to shop online because “it’s easier and I don’t have to go anywhere,” she wrote. But when shopping becomes a social outing, she enjoys the in-store experience with a group of friends.

The Baker Center study also asked participants to predict their future spending. Of the more than 1,000 shoppers surveyed, about 24 percent estimated that they would spend more money online in the next year. The study also looked into what shoppers use to determine purchases.

One of the drivers across all channels was price and value, “which isn’t surprising given the recession,” Kahn added.

According to Kahn, however, the overall data can be interpreted differently. Though 75 percent of respondents reported that they rely on “old-fashioned” in-store shopping, this also means that about 25 percent of shoppers rely on online, catalogue or mobile phone shopping.

This could create a fluidity between channels, Kahn explained, adding that this is referred to as “omnichannel shopping.”

“How shoppers shop in different channels is extremely different,” said Wharton senior Marissa Hastings, vice president of marketing and external communications for the Wharton Retail Club.

The club has brought in speakers recently to discuss the way consumers interact with different channels, Hasting said, adding that it is important that different channels “complement” each other.

In the future, Kahn predicts that in-store and online shopping will be combined. For example, stores may begin increasing their use of QR codes, which allow mobile phone users to receive additional information about their products.

This combination of channels could prove to be successful for certain products, Hastings said.

As shoppers are becoming more creative about using channels, stores will also become more creative in not only increasing their mobile and online sales, but also in-stores sales, Kahn added.

“I definitely think it’s going to be important in the future,” Hastings said.

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