Some Basic Truths about Consumers in 2010

Companies that are expressing any doubts about the behavior of consumers this year would be best served remembering some basic truths about their customers, and buying habits of consumers in general. The times change, as do the economies; but human nature remains the same as it has been for a long time, and sellers who stay the course will be the ones who reap real rewards n the end.

Studies show that many consumers expect to spend the same on their selections of holiday gifts this year as they did when compared to 2009, with about 15% planning to spend more, and about 30% planning to spend less. Those with an annual household income of $75,000 responded to surveys by saying that they would most likely spend more this year than last.

A recent MasterCard Advisers “SpendingPulse” report shows that online sales have been growing, with July 2010 sales growing slightly over 10% for the year. It’s also reported that this growth trajectory may continue, and more good news for online retailers with the news that during the 2010 holiday season, one-quarter of holiday consumers who bought online last year will purchase more online this year, and approximately 50% planning to purchase the same amount. Additionally, merchants can expect to see about 10% of shoppers who didn’t buy anything online last year, making the switch this year.

Another factor to consider is the rise in online’s seemingly unstoppable goal to eradicate Black Friday from the consumer lexicon. With sales expected to be made in very impressive numbers from the comfort of home, consumers are showing less interest in facing crowds at physical locations during the holiday sales rush.

There will also be a great deal of comparison shopping made during the season, with online again providing the forum for consumers to become less dependent upon traditional sources of information. User activity is expected to increase, and retailers who are ready will be the ones to win a substantial portion of their respective markets.

Amidst the optimism, there are some concerns. Shoppers that were surveyed for their feelings about what factors would influence their buying decisions the most were asked to provide responses to questions that commonly emerge during the holiday shopping season. Of the respondents who answered, the following concerns were raised most frequently:

Security of credit and/or debit cards

Product availability

Shipping costs

Privacy of personally identifiable information

Product quality

A point worth considering is that male respondents seemed to be less concerned about these online shopping issues than their female counterparts. In fact, the only category that seemed to raise concerns were in the area of product availability.

Perhaps the biggest item on the retailer checklist should be the fact that consumers will be highly aware and mindful of their spending this year, as they attempt to stay within budgets and keep costs under control as part of a renewed desire to manage funds.

Not surprisingly, the use of cash will be on the rise, as well as the increased use of checks and debit cards.

Author:  Rueben Marley

Based out of China since 2006, Rueben Marley has a unique and first-hand perspective on what's shaping the industry today. Learn more about Rueben's career by visiting his Linkedin profile at

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