Shopping With Feeling: Consumers Demand Empathy From Brands During Buildup To Holidays

Politicians are now being slammed for showing a lack of empathy and emotion. The same standards apply to brands, judging by 2020 Ecommerce Holiday Shopping Trends, a new study by Iterable. 

Of the consumers polled,  83% are likely to buy from brands that inspire an emotional bond. Gen Zers, in particular, need to feel empathy to convert. 

For 22% of shoppers, this means supporting small and local businesses that might be at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The desire for an emotional connection is especially strong among the prosperous. Over half of those making more than $100,000 are much more likely to make a purchase when they connect with a brand. In contrast, of those earning less are somewhat more likely to buy, the study says.  

The study also found that 67% expect to do all their shopping online. Only 3% expect to complete their shopping in stores, and a mere 7% say they prefer to do so. 

And contrary to what you might think, 30% of Gen Zers would like to do at least half their shopping in stores, putting them only behind baby boomers in that regard. 



At the same time, 35% overall will use Amazon more than they did in the past.  

Bargains are important — so is timing. Overall, 36% are waiting for online sales before shopping for the holidays, and 17% will purchase products as soon as they are in stock.  

But 65% want promotions to hit no sooner two weeks before a sales event. Those earning over $100,000 want them "a few days prior."

All that aside, brands still have to drive loyalty and feeling. 

“Emotions are a strong, and profitable, driver for email marketers, but how do you effectively and emotionally connect with customers?” asks Alyssa Jarrett, director of brand & content marketing at Iterable. 

“First, you have to reach them, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that 52% of respondents stated that they prefer to receive promotional messages and learn about sales events via email,” Jarrett says.  

However, email is “only one channel in a marketer’s toolkit, and it’s important to take a holistic approach, using other channels, like SMS (17% preferred text messaging) and direct mail as well,” Jarrett adds. 

Jarrett notes, “Once you’ve covered your bases across all channels, you can focus on emotionally connecting with customers like you actually know them personally.”

What does that mean? When asked, survey respondents "valued 'empathetic and comforting' messaging about the same as messages that were 'transparent and trusting'," Jarrett notes.  

Jarrett concludes: "Give them the best of both worlds by being up front about essential information, such as pricing and shipping, as well as supportive that even though the holidays are going to look different this year, there’s still so much worth celebrating."

Iterable surveyed over 1,000 U.S. consumers. 





1 comment about "Shopping With Feeling: Consumers Demand Empathy From Brands During Buildup To Holidays".
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  1. PJ Lehrer from NYU, October 12, 2020 at 10:01 a.m.

    While a smaller sample size is likely to be less accurate, my Gen Z students do not necessarily agree...

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