Identifying and understanding the typical ‘online’ and ‘offline’ shopper is a quest retailers have poured their time and energy into since multichannel shopping became mainstream last decade. And as brands have witnessed their operating conditions become more hostile, the need to out-compete rivals in terms of shopper insight and customer experience has become more urgent.

So much of the conversation around online shopping has been focussed on it as a channel of convenience. And while it’s true that the ease and simplicity of shopping online is one of its major attractions, the complex dynamics of what motivates us to make a purchase online rather than in-store mean we shouldn’t attribute too much weight to a single factor.

To unpack buying preferences, we must distinguish a purchase decision from the broader shopping journey. Treating ‘online vs offline’ shopping as a binary concept is misguided; shopping is far more likely to be seen as a single purpose that can be achieved in a number of ways, and many consumers will switch between online and offline environments several times before deciding to purchase.

However, regardless of the extent to which consumers mix shopping styles in the run up to a purchase, they will actively opt to buy a product or service in a specific way. Understanding how and why they do this can give retailers a richer knowledge of their customers.

We used Kantar Media’s TGI data to explore the different attitudes and behaviours exhibited by online and offline purchasers (and remember, we’re talking about purchasing specifically rather than shopping) across three distinct categories: clothing, cosmetics and automotive.

We wanted to establish how a shopper’s choice to purchase offline or online correlates with other criteria that might influence their purchase decision, to build a more accurate picture of their attitudes and motivations, and look at how retailers can capitalise on them.

The results reveal that there are number of cross-generational behaviours common to shoppers choosing to buy certain items online or offline.

It’s not all (always) about price

Ecommerce has opened a world of shopping options, and the sheer choice on offer in a single place is an opportunity for consumers to research the best (often lowest) price in search of a deal.

But our data shows that, when purchasing clothing or cosmetics products, online and offline purchasers view price as being equally important, meaning those buying online are no more likely to be converted to purchase by price-based marketing than those shopping in a store.

The same holds true for the…

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