Shopping Trends: Online Trends and Seasonal Peaks

Last month, I wrote the first of a two-part article unveiling the results of a survey aimed at discovering any shifts in the shopping habits of the most powerful consumer group known as Moms. From the dozens of questions asked by BSM Media and Totsy.com to over 1,900 Moms, the results were sifted down into four key topics. Read about the first two topics; the impact of the recession and the emotions behind shopping in April's post. The two remaining topics reveal online shopping patterns and the current trends in seasonal shopping occasions, with comparisons between generational groups.

Online Shopping Trends
It's safe to say that almost every Mom has purchased an item online because of cost savings, the convenience of shopping from a desktop, finding the elusive toy-of-the-season or a combination of all three (or more). Different factors drive the family CFO to the Internet, but the fact that every Mom from every generation uses the Internet for purchases or research is a significant trend that is not going anywhere but up.

  • Online research and online sales sites are the most popular methods moms use when finding deals on the Internet.
  • The majority of women in the survey indicated that they occasionally shop at online sales sites, with Groupon leading the way as the most widely known.
  • Clothing is the most popular item purchased from online sales sites. Moms are more likely to shop for themselves and their home via online sales sites, and less likely to purchase kids items.
  • Generational comparisons show that Gen Y is the most prevalent generation using online sales sites; however, Gen X accounts for nearly as many purchases. (Use these numbers for the generational splits: Gen Y and Millennial Moms were born in the mid-1970s, Gen X Moms were born from 1976 back to 1965 and Boomer Moms were born between 1964 to 1946.)
  • Clothing, home items and entertainment were the most popular items purchased in 2010, although Gen X had an exceptional interest in food deals.

Seasonal and Holiday Spending
With the most popular flower- and chocolate-specific holiday right around the corner (ahem ... don't forget Mother's Day on May 8), it's appropriate to address holiday and seasonal shopping occasions -- Mother's Day and Father's Day, Summertime, and Back-to-School -- which account for sales peaks that make or break retailers.

  • In terms of overall gift buying at every holiday, toys are still the most popular product category. Between 50% and 75% of parents surveyed had purchased at least one toy online in 2010, with many Gen X and Boomer Moms allowing their children to help them with the online shopping, most likely due to the children's ages.
  • Mother's Day and Father's Day are two of the rare holidays that don't involve toys. However, these holidays have more meaning with younger children, and moms are more likely to be treated to an experience and time together while Dads are more likely to receive a present relating to a hobby or activity. Both parents make sure their spouse unwraps a gift from the children, with handmade, keepsake gifts topping the list as most valuable.
  • Summertime is a leading seasonal spending category, mostly focused on weather-appropriate clothing and entertainment. Moms indicated in the survey that books are the most popular item to keep children occupied during summer months, especially during travel. Toys and electronics ranked second after books. Comparing generations, Gen Y Moms are more likely to purchase toys and games for the summer months, while Gen X Moms frequently buy sports equipment.
  • Back-to-School Spending is universal among Moms. Viewed as an opportunity to provide their child with a good start to the school year, Moms place the highest importance on clothing and school supplies. In the survey, 63% of Moms indicated they would purchase new items even though their child didn't need them -- an interesting perspective in a recession.
  • Most Moms involve their children in shopping for school supplies, but reserve the final say at checkout.

Considering the recent economic crisis, it's interesting to note that while three generations of mothers have altered their shopping patterns, Moms continue to spend money on their children and the home (putting personal purchases low on the list). Moms are turning to online sales sites, discount shopping and the Internet for the best price or research, with seasonal and holiday spending ranking high in the family budget. Successful marketers will establish an integrated marketing plan that includes not only social media but social buying as well.

Tags: moms, online
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