spring Alessandra SorcinelliAlessandra Sorcinelli out and about, Milan, Italy - 22 Feb 2017Alessandra Sorcinelli shopping center Alessandra Sorcinelli, one of the "Olgettina" involved years ago in the Berlusconi-Ruby scandal, arrives downtown for shopping. Here you can walk on via della Spiga with provocative clothing and new blonde hairdo.

A new study from Facebook IQ, the social media giant’s research and marketing insights unit, drills in on shopping behavior in the specialty retail sector.

The report is the first of a three-part series examining online shoppers, titled “From Browsing to Buying.” The series uses Facebook pixel, an analytics tool that measures the effectiveness of ads and resulting behaviors or actions.

For its first installment, the team chose specialty retail, defined as “monobrand companies across Apparel & Accessories, Foot Wear and Sporting Goods industries,” to shed light on the actions and motivations of these shoppers.

“We know that no two retailers or shoppers are exactly alike, therefore retailers’ marketing strategies benefit from having valuable insights about people that matter most to them,” said Katie Duffy, content manager at Facebook’s Global Consumer Insights department. “By equipping retailers with access to the right data and insights, they are able to better understand their target audiences and more accurately reach the right people with the right messages at the right time.”

The report identifies six distinct segments within the sector’s shopping base:

  • Shopping Mavens: These consumers take pride in showing off their expertise. They know what they like, and they tend to be high spenders, in comparison to other segments. For them, shopping is fun, and they take their time with buying decisions, both on the web and in brick-and-mortar stores. They generally use their desktop computers for purchases, but they engage with brands on mobile, in places like Instagram.
  • Informed Mobilizers: These shoppers are deliberate, comparison shopping and taking their time to find a good deal at a good price. They parse brand sites, read reviews and comments, and save things to their carts to revisit later.
  • Fashion Enthusiasts: Skewing younger, these users are brand loyalists who prefer upscale names. They see their chosen brands as a reflection of who they are. They take their time shopping, follow trends and influencers in their orbit — from celebrities to friends and family. Instagram is very influential for this segment.
  • Social Savvies: At home with e-commerce shopping, these users shoot through online reviews and comparison shop at a quick clip. They prize ease and expedience, and the team notes that they use Facebook primarily on their mobile devices. This segment, which represents the second largest parenting group, doesn’t have time to waste. Too many choices can overwhelm these consumers, but they also don’t want to overpay.
  • Opportunistic Shoppers: Opportunistic Shoppers are a fundamentally budget-conscious and price-sensitive segment. Generally speaking, they’re usually older, have children, and rely on desktops as the easiest device for shopping. They scout out deals and use coupons, and they view shopping as a chore, not entertainment.
  • Online Reluctants: Relatively neutral about shopping, this group is the least likely to be brand loyal. These shoppers prize quality, and they like shopping in physical stores, so they can check out items in person. Online Reluctants, which tend to be male, are fairly evenly split between mobile and desktop platforms.

Facebook IQ surveyed shoppers across each segment and compared the results with the combined average across the specialty retail category.

Fashion Enthusiasts were 1.2 times more likely to see their choice of brands as a personal reflection of them, compared to the other segments. Meanwhile, Opportunistic Shoppers, being driven by pricing, were only 0.7 times as likely to even have a strongly preferred brand.

The diversity of profiles also underscored a wide range of actual behaviors and time spent shopping.

“Within 30 days of observed behaviors,” noted the report, “Shopping Mavens’ first visit to the brand site was, on average, 22 days before making a final purchase. In contrast, Online Reluctants visited the brand site, on average, only four days before making a final purchase.”

Those time lines can radically effect the customer journey and consumer experience. In part two of the series, the researchers will examine how the length of shopping time equates to consumers’ passion and willingness to spend more.

This study was based on a snapshot from February using Facebook internal data, and it focused on approximately 1.6 million shoppers captured by the Facebook pixel. Users were adults, over 18 years of age, and from the U.S. The survey data came from “Facebook Pixel Segmentation” by Ipsos Connect, which analyzed usage from 1,216 Facebook users out of the above segmentation.

Other notes: Informed Mobilizers heavily favored mobile for research and transactions. On average, 98 percent of their online shopping behaviors and purchases, at least that Facebook could see, were on a mobile device. That was a stark contrast to Opportunistic Shoppers, who relied on mobile for just  11 percent of their online shopping actions and 4 percent of their online purchases.

“Shoppers in the specialty retail category are hardly one-size-fits-all. The landscape is messy,” the report continues. “Shoppers feel just as differently about shopping as they behave when shopping.” Obviously, the team recommends that retailers and brands use Facebook pixel and Facebook analytics to gain more insights about how various shoppers engage and craft strategies relevant to their desired customer segments.

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