Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Intercepting Online Mega-Shoppers

As our thinking about media and media buying converge, the notion of intercepting online shoppers when they are online and in the mood with a mouse and a credit card in-hand is the next marketing vista. That’s why a Media Audit study of online shopping by daypart from International Demographics caught my eye.

Online retail “whales” are people who make 12 or more purchases a year. Their most popular daypart is afternoons (1-6pm). Power shopping not watching Oprah is their afternoon delight. In 87 metros, these high value customers are 22 percent of online buyers or 21.4 million out of 93.9 million Americans (18+) who log on during an average month.

Looking at these stats you think “yes Virginia, people really do hate retail.” This time-sensitive, convenience oriented segment buys from home twice as often as they buy from the office, though mid-day office purchasing is significant.

Not surprising age and income are drivers of online mega-shopping. More than half (52.4%) are 25-44 versus just 9.7 percent for the cyber-savvy under 25 set. And 45 percent of the 150K+ crowd are 12X online buyers.

There are more male whales than female whales but the buying patterns are similar.
The largest number of 12X male shoppers buy from midnight till 8 am. Imagine an army of guys in boxers treating themselves to a gadget, a book or some music after a tough day at work. The same is true for women. Substitute housecoats and furry slippers or Victoria’s Secret creations for the boxers.

The lightest hours among high volume men shoppers are during work (1-6p) and during primetime TV (6-10p). The same holds true for women, who buy proportionally a bit more from 8a-11a than their male counterparts.

The real question is -- can we do anything about what we now know? Can we program banners, text ads or leader boards with whale-specific messages to be served in specific dayparts? Should we try “Midnight Madness” sales online? Should multi-channel retailers construct middle-of-the-night promotions or create off-beat streaming videos to entertain and engage these business-building buyers?

These and other daypart interception tactics have been tried on TV, cable and radio with measurable results. Perhaps its time to adapt them to a broadband universe..


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