Consumers Resort to ‘Shoptimism’
Shoptimism is a term being used to describe purchases made from home during the pandemic. You are stuck at home and suddenly begin to see every flaw, paint chip and cluttered closet. So, you buy things to fix the situation — or you buy things to make you feel better about it.
When consumers buy things they don't need, such as luxury items, in the middle of a public health crisis, it's called "shoptimism." This term was coined by Lee Eisenberg in his 2009 book of the same title.
Why Do We Buy Things?
According to Eisenberg, people buy things to provide emotional relief from the anxiety of living in a pandemic and economically uncertain times. He describes two kinds of buyers. The classic buyer compares prices, deliberates on whether they need a product and then makes a purchase. The romantic buyer shops emotionally, purchasing trendy or "cool" items that boost their emotional state. In general, the romantic buyer cares about the emotional satisfaction of the purchase rather than the utility of the product.
E-commerce and M-commerce
Consumers are used to the convenience of online shopping (e-commerce), especially via their mobile devices (m-commerce). The click-and-collect culture isn't going anywhere soon. Not only is it safer but the convenience and faster delivery times make it easier than shopping in stores. Generous return policies sealed the deal.
The rise of curbside pickup makes it easy to order online and drive up for contactless service. This frictionless experience has risen due to the global pandemic, but consumers are likely to demand it for long afterwards. Northfield has increased the short-term street parking downtown to help with a quick turnaround for curbside services, which many of the local shops offer.
Northfield’s retailers continue to capitalize on this into 2021. Even shoppers who do visit traditionally now pre-research products and services online. Many of the smaller retailers took advantage of the Northfield EDA’s E-Commerce grant money last summer to help build online shopping capabilities which has helped their sales during the past year.
Contactless shopping and payment provide a safe way for consumers to purchase online and pick up at participating stores. Consumers can also use the technology to shop or pay for items at brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Monarch Gift Shop offers customers, who may still be feeling apprehensive of in-person shopping. the option of a virtual personal shopper. Customers can use programs like Facetime and a clerk will help guide the experience.
One customer wrote: “I was looking for a new wall clock for my newly remodeled kitchen. I was able to show Amy my kitchen and she made suggestions for different styles that would look good. We chose a beautiful clock, I paid over the phone and she even delivered it to my home that afternoon. It was seamless and really nice.”
Younger Generations Are Exhibiting Shoptimism
Generation Z has been hit hard by the pandemic employment situation. The youngest generation in the workforce is often the first let go in a downturn and those graduating from college may have a harder time finding employment in their field.
Research from Smart Company, an Australian publication, showed a rise in purchases among Gen Z shoppers from shopping platforms offering payment plans. These shoppers appreciated the safety, anonymity, and speed of online transactions. Perhaps that's why usage of e-commerce and m-commerce is increasingly popular among demographically younger shoppers.
Shoptimism goes beyond the recent tendency of homebound consumers to make frivolous purchases online. New technology and changing consumer expectations make it imperative that businesses take their brands to the internet if they want to attract consumers away from competitors.