Inside the Holiday Shopping Cart: What Marketers Should Know About Black Friday and Cyber Monday

New Research from Mindshare North America Explores Shopping Habits and Brand Opportunities 

Make way for insights in aisle nine: Mindshare North America, the global media agency network that’s part of WPP, has released new research exploring consumer trends and plans for this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days.

Mindshare NA surveyed 779 upcoming shoppers for Black Friday or Cyber Monday to look at what (and why) people want to buy, what they want from retailers, where they seek discounts, and much more. The research was led by Shop+ (the agency’s dedicated retail unit) using The Pool (Mindshare’s proprietary research tool).

The Male & Millennial Shopping Agenda

“Interestingly enough, the research shows that Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be a bigger deal for men versus women, and for millennial shoppers as compared to other age groups,” says Joe Migliozzi, Managing Director, Global Head of Shop+ for Mindshare. “There’s no one silver media bullet for reaching those groups—but ultimately, you start by grounding your commerce strategies in audience data and insights and building off of that. The right media plan will leverage those not just from the start, but with adaptive strategies throughout the holidays.”

When it comes to shopping for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it turns out that men are more likely than women to know what they’ll spend. Mindshare NA’s survey found that 68% of men who plan on shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday have a specific budget in mind, versus 55% of women. When breaking the same question down by age groups instead, millennial shoppers took the majority: 76% of shoppers ages 18-34 answered in the affirmative, versus 59% of shoppers ages 35-54 and 37% from ages 55 and over.

Men also plan on spending nearly 69% more than women during these shopping events. Mindshare NA found that on average*, men anticipate that they’ll spend $417 on Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday, while women anticipate that they’ll spend an average of $247—nearly 69% less.

When breaking the same question down by age groups instead:

  • Those ages 35-54 plan on spending the most, with an average of $356.
  • Millennials aren’t far behind with anticipated spending of $338.
  • For those ages 55 and higher, the number drops to $244.

Men and millennials are also more likely to camp outside stores before they open—56% of male shoppers said that they do so, versus 29% of female shoppers. And, 58% of shoppers ages 18-34 do so, versus 42% of shoppers ages 35-54 and 14% of shoppers ages 55 and up.

What can account for these differences in attitudes and budget? There’s multiple factors involved. For one, the data suggests that men and millennials see Black Friday and Cyber Monday as bigger opportunities for sales versus other audiences looking for discounts year-round:

  • 69% of male shoppers say that they can get deals on Black Friday that they can’t get at any other time, versus 58% of women.
  • When broken down by age groups instead, that stat increases to 72% for millennials, versus 63% for those ages 35-54 and 48% for those ages 55 and up.
  • 70% of male shoppers say that they expect in-store deals to be better than online deals, versus 51% of female shoppers.
  • That 70% stat was also found specifically for millennial shoppers.

That also helps explain why 63% of male shoppers say that they do their holiday gift shopping during those shopping days, versus 49% of women. When breaking down the date by age groups instead, the number rises to 73% for millennial shoppers, versus 50% for those ages 35-54 and 31% for those ages 55 and up.

Another crucial factor in the differences in attitudes and spending is product choices—specifically that of big ticket items. For example, men are more than three times more likely to want to purchase auto/auto parts (22% versus 6% for women).

The biggest drivers for anticipated Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending are clothing/fashion and electronics (such as TVs, phones, DVDs, etc.). But when broken down further, the most popular drivers for men versus women are:

Showrooming and Social

Mindshare NA also found that 58% of shoppers use their phones when in-stores to check prices on items. For men, that rises to 66% versus 49% of female shoppers.

The agency also found that 41% post about Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals to social media sites—which rises to 57% for millennial shoppers specifically.

  • When broken down by income brackets, it hits 60% for those with an HHI** of $75K or more, versus 32% with an HHI of $45-75K and 25% with an HHI of $45K or less.
  • Male shoppers are also nearly twice as likely to post deals on social: 53% vs. 28% for women.

The purchase of more big ticket items is also why men are nearly twice as likely as women (52% versus 28%) to share their actual purchases afterwards on Black Friday or Cyber Monday on social media.

It trends that way with millennials as well:

  • 58% for shoppers ages 18-34
  • 38% for ages 35-54 and 7% for those 55 and up.

What Shoppers Want from Retailers

Naturally, 55% of shoppers would like to see companies offer discounts on a wider array of products during Black Friday. Other preferences include:

  • 50% would like a way to check if an item is in store before they get there.
  • 47% would like longer sales hours.
  • 40% would like to see improved in-store experiences (better product placement, signage, etc.)
  • 38% would like to see contest, promotions, or sweepstakes for shoppers

As far as brand image goes: 87% of shoppers respect companies that are closed on Thanksgiving Day. That being said:

  • 57% of shoppers like it when stores are open on or before Thanksgiving so they can shop early.
  • 59% of shoppers respect companies that don’t participate in Black Friday
  • That 59% stat in particular rises to 67% for men (and drops to 51% for women).

Sixty-eight percent of shoppers say that they prefer shopping on Cyber Monday—a stat that rises to 72% for millennial shoppers.

  • As for gender breakdowns, it goes to 74% for men and 62% for women.
  • For income breakdowns, 78% for those with an HHI of $75K or more.
  • ·Still, that doesn’t change the fact that 61% of shoppers say that they expect in-store deals to be better than online deals, which rises to 70% for those with an HHI of $75K or more.
  • And, that 64% of shoppers say that they get deals on Black Friday that they can’t get at any other time—a stat that rises to 71% for those with an HHI of $75K or more.

Which Kind of Shopper Are You?

Mindshare NA also broke down the demographics of upcoming Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers into four distinct groups:

37% describe themselves as Value-Driven. They’re constantly looking for the best deals, taking advantage of rebates and discounts. To that point, more than half (56%) would like a way to check if an item is in store before they get there.

This was the leading category for both men and women, but it leans substantially more towards women – 45% are in this category, versus 29% of men. Older demographics are also seen more here: 40% of shoppers ages 35-54 and 55+ described themselves as such, versus 32% of 18-34 year old shoppers.

24% describe themselves as Focused. They pinpoint the exact items they want and place all of their effort in getting just those items. Men are more likely than women to fit here—26% of male shoppers, versus 21% of female shoppers. Alongside Value-Driven shoppers, they plan their shopping further in advance of the holidays.

22% describe themselves as Spontaneous. They like to browse the stores without a plan in mind; if they see something that they like, they’ll buy it. Men are more likely than women to fit here—26% of men versus 18% of women. Younger people are also more likely to be Spontaneous shoppers – 29% of 18-34 year old shoppers, versus 17% for 35-54 and 16% for ages 55 and up.

Unsurprisingly, more than half (56%) of Spontaneous shoppers would like to see longer sales hours in store. Nearly half (49%) would like to see contest, promotions, or sweepstakes for shoppers. In addition, 61% would like to see companies offer discounts on a wider array of products during Black Friday.

17% describe themselves as Avoidant. They would rather buy online or not at all rather than wait in line or have to fight the crowds during Black Friday. Naturally, 78% of Avoidant shoppers said that they prefer shopping on Cyber Monday. And when looking at how many items people typically buy, they were the most likely to buy three or less.

The Media Opportunities for Discounts

Mindshare NA also looked at all the different channels people are using to find deals for Black Friday specifically. The agency found that 42% find deals from television, and that 32% hear about them from friends or family. A look across other channels also reveals:

Digital/mobile screens:

  • 50% find Black Friday deals online via PC or laptop
  • 41% find them online via mobile or tablet
  • 30% via social media sites
  • 30% via online deal sites (such as Groupon, SlickDeal, etc.)

In-store or in-print: 

  • 45% find deals via printed in-store circulars or flyers. This method is particularly big for women—57% for female shoppers versus 33% for men.
  • 37% see deals in-store
  • 33% via magazines or newspapers

Radio:

  • 14% find deals via traditional radio.  Men are more than twice as likely – 20% of male shoppers versus 8% of female shoppers.
  • 12% via streaming radio. Men almost four times as likely—19% of male shoppers versus 5% of female shoppers.

Research Methodology

Mindshare NA surveyed 779 shoppers nationwide through The Pool, ages 18 and up in October, who said they were either planning to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. In this survey, millennials have been defined as the age group of 18-34. For the question regarding how much people anticipate spending on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Mindshare NA honed in data from the average middle 80% of respondents to remove outliers.

*For this question specifically, Mindshare NA honed in data from the middle 80% of respondents to remove outliers.

**HHI refers to annual household income