Comment: The Emotional Christmas Shopper
Glum grocery shoppers
The research revealed that grocery shopping provokes the most negative emotions compared to the other shopping categories. Consumers recorded their lowest happiness scores, with only 40% expressing happiness before the shop, compared to 51% expressing happiness before they embark on a shop at an electrical store. The grocery shop also recorded the highest levels of contempt, which gradually rose through the shopper journey and peaked post-shop and these contempt levels were particularly high amongst younger shoppers.
Emotions drive the shopper differently at each stage of the journey; the more complex the shopping trip, the more pronounced the emotional peaks and troughs. Based on this, the grocery shop is a particularly intense emotional rollercoaster, with every aisle prompting a different emotional response, often driven by category issues.
Women are happier shoppers than men
Shopping has always been a contentious activity for couples and this study points to the emotional reasons why. Women are officially happier shoppers than men, reporting higher levels of happiness and less negative emotions than men at every stage of the shopping journey, across the all three retail sectors.
Men are most likely to feel negative emotions during a shop across all three sectors and are happiest when they have completed the task in hand and left the shop. During a DIY shop, men’s negativity was particularly based around the difficulty of finding what they wanted and more practical considerations: ‘No staff’; ‘No signage’; ‘Had to buy an inferior product’. Although men’s happiness scores tended to increase during shopping trips across all three sectors, they were still lower than their female counterparts’ post-shop – again suggesting that they enjoy the shopping experience itself much less than women.
Most surprisingly, the results showed that women actually enjoy DIY shopping more than men, with 75% of women reporting happiness post-shop compared to 53% of their male counterparts. Like most shopping, men tend to be task focussed and can be easily enraged by not completing the task, whereas for women the focus of DIY shopping is the imagined ‘new home’.
The great expectations of electronics shopping
A new digital camera, TV or the latest Apple product are popular Christmas gifts. This means that people specifically make a trip to an electronics store looking for a particular product. Electronics provoked some of the most positive responses for the shopping experience, particularly in terms of generating surprise - 12% during the shop, compared to 7% in DIY and a lower 2% during grocery shopping.
Retailers with a more interesting and involving product range engage shoppers more in the shopping experience, which explains why consumers feel happier in an electrical store. However, greater expectations equal greater disappointment if an intended, pre-planned purchase cannot be realised. This is reflected by the fact that, across all three sectors, the highest level of sadness recorded was during the electrical shop.
The role of emotions during the shopping experience is an area of real important for retailers, especially as we approach the frantic and emotionally intense Christmas shopping period. The emotional peaks and troughs we experience at the supermarket will be magnified over the busy Christmas period so brands and retailers need to be acutely aware of how best to take advantage of any positive emotions connected with their category. Unfortunately for women however, our research would indicate that they might find the big Xmas food shop slightly more bearable than men – and are likely to be the ones who find themselves doing it!
Wendy Lanchin is Planning Director at The Marketing Store
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