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Who actually shops during the Black Friday season?

That's the question we aimed to answer in a recent Vision Critical study on the attitudes, behaviors and demographics of consumers who shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

This year, we've seen more brands trying new tactics to win the Black Friday retail war, including the curious move of offering doorbuster specials on Thanksgiving Day. That's why retailers, more than ever, need to get to know the people who are more likely to shop so they can customize their marketing strategies. From our national study of 1006 Americans, and as we show in the infographic below, we've identified four shopper types this post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping period: the Modern Day Mom, Millennial Generation Shopper, Mobile Tech Embracer and the Single Cyber Male.

Black Friday Shopper Types

Our study shows that retailers can't afford to have a one-size-fits-all approach this season. Whether you're a big box global brand or an up-and-coming e-commerce retailer, knowing these personas provides a preview of shoppers you should expect not just during Black Friday but also during the crucial Christmas holiday shopping season. Here are some insights from our study that will help you take advantage of one of the year's biggest shopping seasons:

  1. E-newsletters and retailer websites are still effective marketing tools.

A great majority of the shoppers we talked to (72%) indicated that they sign up for email newsletters ahead of time to get first access to Black Friday deals. And of the four shopping types that we've identified, three are likely to subscribe to newsletters: the Millennial Generation Shopper, the Modern Day Mom, and the Mobile Tech Embracer. That said, 91% of the fourth group - the Single Cyber Male - indicated that they plan to browse retailer websites ahead of time. Overall 83% of shoppers that we talked to said they are likely to browse products online before heading out to shop.

These stats suggest that for the typical retailer, email and website information are important marketing considerations this season. While some brands use branded apps and other newer technologies to communicate with customers about Black Friday deals, our findings suggest that websites and email campaigns can still help drive sales this season.

  1. When it comes to shopping, young people aren't the most mobile-obsessed.

While the general assumption is that younger consumers are more likely to prefer online shopping using their mobile devices, our data shows that this isn't necessarily the case. In fact, Mobile Tech Embracers, who have an average age of 35, are most likely to spend more time shopping on their mobile and tablet devices. Even online shopping isn't totally a Millennial phenomenon: Modern Day Moms spend almost as much time shopping online as Millennial shoppers (56% vs 53%).

If you're still crafting Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategies based on old assumptions about the different generation of consumers, you might be on the wrong track. Our stats about mobile and online shopping emphasize the need to question what you think you know about technology and the consumers that buy and use them.

  1. Desktop still reigns online shopping.

In all four of the Black Friday shopper profiles that we've identified, desktop reigned as the top device used for online shopping. In fact, with the exception of the Mobile Tech Embracers, all shopper types do most of their online shopping on their laptops / desktops. And Single Cyber Males in particular are spending 81% of their online shopping time using laptops / desktops to shop instead of their tablets and mobile devices.

Desktop's supremacy doesn't necessarily mean brands should ignore newer tech when crafting marketing strategies. But it does highlight the importance of having a seamless, omni-channel approach that takes into account newer and more established shopping platforms.

  1. Shoppers are mostly buying for others.

With about a month left before Christmas, many shoppers are thinking ahead and are starting to buy gifts. But our data shows that some groups are more likely to shop for others. Modern Day Moms spend almost four times as much on others as they do on themselves, while Single Cyber Males tend to spend almost equally on themselves and for others.

Which deals should you emphasize in an advertising campaign? And which products should get prominent placement on your website or in your stores? Who are the recipients of Black Friday gifts? Knowing the answers to these questions about your customers can help inform your marketing decisions this Black Friday season. If your ads are meant for Modern Day Moms, then it doesn't make sense to only advertise things for her when she's also looking for things for her friends and family.

Clearly, new technologies such as mobile and tablets are starting to influence how and where people shop this Black Friday season. As brands make crucial decisions on how to win people's attention and wallets, a clear understanding of their buyers' personas will help retailers optimize the way they target and communicate with each shopper type on an ongoing basis.

For more information on the four Black Friday personas retailers should pay attention to this 2013 Black Friday season, please see our press release or view the full size version here.

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