MasterCard, the payment industry leader, has defined five online shopper personas that defy traditional demographic boundaries and give online retailers a fresh way of looking at online marketing, personalization, and shopping behavior.
The MasterCard Digital Sharing and Trust Project — here’s the PDF download — is based on 128 detailed, qualitative interviews that generated some 9,029 responses to more than 50 questions aimed at defining everything from simple demographics to behavioral information and examples.
“The research,” MasterCard reported, “reveals five global personas of equal size that exhaustively segment the global online consumer market. These personas are determined by behaviors, attitudes, and awareness regarding sharing personal information.”
“While the personas represent five discrete, identifiable, and globally applicable segments for marketing, merchandising, and risk management, they do not differentiate from each other based on the traditional demographic markers of age, income, and geography. Rather, they are delimited solely in terms of online behavior, essentially a new paradigm for merchants on the Internet.”
Implications for Ecommerce
The MasterCard findings may mean that online retailers would be best served if they based marketing campaigns or even marketing tactics on known shopper behavior or at least on categories of shopping behavior, rather than making demographic assumptions.
As an example, some ecommerce marketers will decide how or where to place banner advertising or even define content-based promotions based on assumptions about a particular demographic like women, young people, or folks from a specific region. While there may be some data that does make relevant distinctions about consumers along these lines, often the data is interpreted in the context of personal experience and anecdotal information.
To further the example, a marketing specialist said recently that she only focused on female buyers because she had seen some data about the influence women have online and because she made the buying decisions in her own home.
Rather than taking this approach, an online seller could collect data from real, specific customers as they interact with the merchant on site or, perhaps, in social media. This actual behavioral data could be used in turn to personalize the shopper’s experience and, hopefully, improve the overall shopping experience and the merchant’s profitability.
About 21 percent of online shoppers are “Open Sharers,” according to MasterCard. These shoppers “are progressive in their mobile and social attributes, exemplifying open behavior in both.”
These customers strongly believe that shopping online saves them money and time, and they are generally willing to share personal information — including geolocation information — for deals for special offers.
Building on the MasterCard findings, it may be the case that mobile marketing, special offers, or email marketing would be effective with Open Sharers.
“Simply Interactors” also make up about 21 percent of online shoppers, again according to MasterCard. These buyers are heavy social media users. About 70 percent of Simply Interactors will look for product reviews before making an online purchase, and although about 80 percent of these shoppers will research products online about 63 percent would really rather shop in a store.
Although MasterCard did not offer specific guidance, Simply Interactors may be good candidates for content marketing and consistent, repeated interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and similar.
“Solely Shoppers are characterized by their reliance on the Internet for their shopping needs,” MasterCard said of these category of shoppers, which also represents about 21 percent on potential online customers.
About 90 percent of solely shoppers research products online before making a purchase, and half of this group will showroom products — looking at them in a physical store while comparing prices from an Internet-enabled mobile device.
Interesting these group is generally not aware of how marketers use personal information to, as an example, retarget or personalize messages. It may be the case that personalization, including price personalization, and retargeting campaigns will be effective with solely shoppers.
Something like 17 percent of online shoppers are what MasterCard described as “Passive Users.” These shoppers may not be convinced that the Internet or online shopping is really a value to them and may tend to use social media or mobile apps much less than other online customers.
These shoppers may not understand that their personal information has value to marketers. And this customer segment may be an interesting target for traditional marketing like newspaper ads that encourage shoppers to visit an online store.
About 17 percent of online shoppers actively guard personal information, according to MasterCard. As a rule, “Proactive Protectors” will only share data with merchants when they know specifically how that data will be used. What’s more, these shoppers will probably not be interested in signing up for email newsletters, joining clubs or memberships, or otherwise trading personal information for special offers.
It may be that reaching these customers will be a matter of making online shopping more convenient and quick. Marketers will also want to build relationships with this group over time.