Category Archives: Decision Making

Conference Room Storytime

By Stephanie Milam

Being in qualitative market research, we’ve always strongly believed in the importance of storytelling, because that’s essentially what we do – tell the consumer’s story. Storytelling has become more valuable as of late, with various branches of businesses adopting this method of reporting and presentation to more effectively communicate.

Storytelling has an advantage over traditional presentation styles because it’s relatable and engaging, which therefore makes it more persuasive.

Aid organizations were early adopters of this strategy, and are a great example of storytelling’s efficacy. While the often harrowing facts behind their causes are important, it’s the individual stories of struggle that bring in donations. Sponsoring individual people is an effective strategy because the patron becomes more directly invested in the program by caring about and following the progress of the recipient.

In the business world, storytelling works in a similar way. Rather than a presentation of slide after slide of fact lists and charts, the conference room attendees get a chance to engage with the information. They are taken on a journey during which the information is delivered in a way that is easily absorbed because it is part of a narrative rather than a list. Decisions are then made with genuine interest in the outcome.

We at On Your Mark regularly deliver information to our clients by telling the stories of their consumers. It’s our goal to have clients make decisions with a more personal understanding of who they are affecting, so they can ultimately do what’s best for the business and the consumer.

Merry Christmas to Me Redux

By Crystal Markowski

In a recent blog post, Stephanie shed light on an NRF survey about how consumers will be spending more on non-gift items for themselves and their households this year compared to 2010. One question that kept us wondering was what exactly women are buying for themselves as they work to check off everyone on their holiday list. To get to the bottom of this question, we turned to our FHI panel  to have women weigh in. What we found were some interesting details that further illustrate Stephanie’s prediction that women will be gifting themselves with clothing, home goods, or other semi-necessities.

Of our members polled, 70% of women plan to make purchases this year on items that are just for them, and of this group, most will be looking for seasonal clothing and shoes. What surprised us most was the amount of women who said they’re hoping to buy “nicer” wardrobe pieces, specifically a new holiday outfit/dress or a new pair of boots. Typically, these are infrequent purchases for most women, and the holidays seem like a perfect time to not only justify, but maximize, these purchases.

Women often view these nicer, more expensive, clothing pieces as wardrobe investments. So, when they buy these items, they want to make sure it is something they will love wearing and will last more than one season. For example, retailers roll out the latest fall and winter boots early in the year, often before fall arrives. Since the cold weather does not come until a bit later, many women won’t feel the need to buy boots right away and decide to take more time planning the purchase – shopping around, seeing what’s available, and looking for a good deal. Furthermore, having managed a tight budget throughout the year, the holidays seem to create a mentality of, “Now is the time when I deserve it.” Couple that with the flood of seasonal deals, and many start asking themselves, “Why not buy those new boots I’ve been eyeing since September?” Some women may further maximize their spending by taking advantage of discounts on more luxurious items, like designer leather boots or cashmere sweaters, to get the most bang for their buck.

While the holidays may be a time to splurge on one’s self, I believe that women’s spending does not come without solid reasoning and good planning. As Stephanie mentioned, we can sometimes live without buying new clothes and other semi-necessities until we know we are getting the best deal. With promotions on everything from winter coats to handbags, now is an opportune time for women to get the most out of their wardrobe investments.

Merry Christmas to Me: Why consumers are spending more on themselves this shopping season

By Stephanie Milam

It’s that time of year again – the holiday shopping season. Many big name retailers have announced plans to top last year’s deals both in-store and online in an effort to meet the high expectations of budget-conscious consumers. But because Americans have become even more leery of the state of the US economy, there has been speculation around how much tighter they’ll keep the purse strings on their holiday spending.

Last month, researchers released the 2011 projections for holiday trends, and the numbers aren’t exactly blowing last year’s spending and sales figures out of the water. The most intriguing prediction is that, while shoppers will be spending a slightly lower total amount on gifts, they will be spending significantly more on non-gift items for themselves and their families. The survey from which these results were generated did not ask questions about what non-gift items they will buy, or why they are spending more on themselves this time of year, so I’ve made a few predictions of my own.  I believe shoppers are purchasing other items for themselves and their families during the holiday season because they are waiting to buy certain items until the end of the year when they can get the best sales and lowest prices. With this new trend, demand is put on hold until this enormous promotional period.

My prediction stems from one consumer priority: budget management. Consumers have gotten better and stricter about maintaining tight budgets, which has affected the way they shop. I believe shoppers are waiting until the end of the year to make non-gift purchases because they want to take advantage of what they expect to be the best deals of year. Waiting until the end of the year to buy requires discipline, patience, and planning. After three years of this recession, American consumers are now skilled enough at budgeting and bargain hunting that they can and will wait to make these extra purchases until the holiday shopping season.

But what exactly are they buying? In order to wait months for the purchase, the items can’t be immediate necessities. And based on the survey, the amount of money each shopper is spending on non-gift items is approximately $130.43, so we can assume they’re not buying a new car. My educated guess is that shoppers are making purchases on clothing, home goods, and other semi-necessities. These are the things we can live without buying or replacing until we know we are getting the absolute best deal.  For such goods, consumers are finally willing to spend during the big end-of-year and holiday sales; and after holding off and saving, shoppers feel they deserve these extras.

The 2011 holidays are sure to be filled with plenty of gift-giving, but this season will also see a surge in extra purchases to make the shopper feel a little extra retail love. In the coming years, it will be interesting to observe if and how such promotions-driven spending will affect the retail marketplace during the rest of the year as well as future holiday seasons.