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How To Game E-Commerce: Mindshare North America Explores The New Normal For Online Shopping

From Faking Your Birthday to Using Frequent Flyer Mile Consultants, New Research on Consumer Shopping Habits

NEW YORK, July 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- What would you do to get a great deal online? Turns out that it's quite a lot, especially if you're a millennial. Mindshare North America, the global media agency network that is part of WPP, has released new research on the different methods consumers use to get discounts through e-commerce, as well as their credit card habits. The research was led by Shop+ (the agency's dedicated retail unit) using The Pool (Mindshare's proprietary research tool).

"Every day, consumers are growing savvier and savvier in their online shopping habits," says Joe Migliozzi, Managing Director, NY Office Digital and Shop+ Lead, Mindshare North America. "That's not necessarily a bad thing for retailers—it's a different kind of engagement. But brands do need to understand this shift in behavior, and adapt their marketing plans in creative ways."

The Tricks and Tactics

Today's consumers, particularly millennials, deploy a wide range of creative tactics to get deals online. More than one-fourth of millennials (26%) have faked their birthday when signing up for newsletters in hopes of getting a discount on their purchase. For the total adult population surveyed (referring to the total survey of anyone ages 18 and above), that number drops to 17%. And when shopping online, 47% of millennials will intentionally leave items in a "shopping basket" in hopes of receiving a discount from the store (versus 37% of the total adults).

Browser histories play a role as well: 31% of millennials will clear their Internet history to bring down flight fares (versus 23% of the total adults). And when looking to buy something online, 39% of millennials will clear their Google search history to get the best price (versus 31% of the total adults).

For travel specifically, 61% of millennials try to purchase tickets for upcoming trips on days when they believe prices are lower (e.g. Tuesdays). For the total adults, that number is 48%. And, 22% of millennials have consultants to manage their frequent flyer numbers/miles for them (versus 15% of the total adults).

For more product-based purchases, 36% of millennials share an Amazon Prime account with their friends so that they can get free shipping (versus 24% of the total adults). And overall, 36% of millennials have multiple email addresses, one specifically for shopping online. It's the same percentage for people ages 35-54, and then 30% for the total adults.

The Waiting Game

In general, consumers are also willing to wait brands out in order to get a good deal. When they find things they want to buy, 64% of the surveyed population will wait to buy until it goes on sale. The percentage only varies by a few points across age groups – 66% for both millennials and those ages 35-54.

On top of that, 39% of millennials sign up for price tracking services to get an email when prices drops on the items they want to buy. For the total adults, that number is 30%. And more than two-thirds (70%) of millennials search around online for promo codes before buying anything online so that they can get a better price. For the total adults, that number is 59%.

There's a natural side effect to this behavior: 64% of millennials feel like they're always waiting on buying what they want because they know it will go on sale. For the total adults, that number is 52%.

Differing Card Habits

Mindshare NA also surveyed the relationship between credit cards, loyalty programs, and discounts. More than three-fourths (77%) of women sign up for loyalty to programs to get discounts, while the figure is 67% for men.

In fact, men seem more interested in cash back and rewards from credit cards. Nearly half (48%) of men say that they buy everything on their credit card so they can get the reward points (e.g. for travel, for cash back), versus 38% of women. In general, 46% of men have signed up for cash back offers on their bank/credit card to get money back for shopping at certain locations, versus 40% of women.

The Complaints

Finally, Mindshare NA also explored what consumers don't love about the e-commerce space. More than half (58%) of millennials say that their email is too cluttered with promotional emails from stores they've purchased things from. The number is 49% for the total adults.

And, 68% of millennials say that after they've searched for a product, it's annoying to see online ads for that product repeatedly (versus 64% of the total adults).

Research Methodology

Mindshare NA surveyed more than 1,000 adults nationwide through The Pool, ages 18 and up. For the purposes of this survey, Millennials have been defined as the age group 18-34. Total adult population surveyed refers to the total survey, including millennials.

This new research also follows Mindshare NA's 2015 Culture Vulture Trends report, released in January, which had first begun identifying the trend of "Marketing As A Game" for consumers.

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