Our shopping habits are defined by far more than our budgets. The vast majority of our purchases are “wants” rather than “needs” (despite our proclamation, before heading out, of: “I need to run by Banana Republic; I need a couple of new cardigans”) and, with this in mind, our shopping habits are dictated by how we define what we want – our overall objectives (which may or may not have anything to do with shopping), our attitudes, and our self-perception.
I was recently reading an (unrelated) book that put shoppers into five categories:
• The browser: window shops for amusement, but rarely gets their wallet out and pulls the trigger. They may troll travel websites, determine that their dream trip is Argentina, but then never go.
• The impulse buyer: buys without a lot of analysis; they always end up with extra things in their grocery cart, and big sales are minefields for them. As soon as they identify an open week or two, they’ll buy a plane ticket on a whim at 2 am.
• The loyalist: has a wallet full of store credit cards (with balances), will wear anything their favorite designer sells, and will never drive anything but Lexus/BMW/Chevy. They found their ideal vacation spot a decade ago, and would love to visit the same one every year.
• The comparison shopper: spends an inordinate amount of time identifying the right purchase and ensuring the lowest price. The opposite of the impulse shopper, it may take them three months to pick their perfect winter coat. Christmas gift-giving is especially time-consuming. They rarely suffer buyer’s remorse.
• The “cost is no object” shopper: their matra is “you get what you pay for” or perhaps “go big or go home.” When they travel, they do it in five-star hotels.
I am the "comparison shopper" through and through. Servers often have to come back three times before I have decided what I want to order, and there may never be a house that seems better than any other and great enough to buy. Someone else in my life is the "impulse buyer" - though he rarely shops, he comes home with something when he does. We always end up with unexpected chips, crackers and cookies in our basket at the grocery store, and he can pull the trigger on major purchases within a single day.
Which are you?