Surprising Survey on How Americans Shop

 Surprising Findings in New Nationwide Survey: Men Care More About Name Brands Than Women Do, Those With Highest Incomes Check Coupon Sites More Than Others


 LOS ANGELES (May 18, 2011) – One size does not fit all when it comes to enticing online shoppers to  buy, according to a new consumer survey released today from SteelHouse (

Americans’ online shopping personalities and buying behaviors are both diverse and distinct – and are not always easy to predict.  Some surprising findings: 25 percent of men say they would buy premium brand name products compared to just 16 percent of women.  Those in the highest income bracket ($75,000+) look for coupons and require discounts and free shipping more than people who make less money.

Overall, while nearly 40 percent say they always shop with a purpose to find something in particular, 30 percent say they regularly browse with no intention of buying.  Making a marketer’s job even more challenging: 12 percent say they never buy from a website on a first visit, even if a discount is offered. 

 Those are some of the highlights of a new nationwide survey conducted this month by SteelHouse.  In conjunction with Chicago market researcher Synovate eNation, SteelHouse asked 1,000 Americans: “What kind of online shopper are you?”  They were asked to select all that apply. 

 Here are the overall results:   

Marla Tomazin - "busy, busy, busy"

Marla Tomazin – “busy, busy, busy”

44%     I read product reviews before I buy.

39%     I always shop with a purpose – I look online only when I’m searching for something in particular.

32%     I check out coupon sites to get the best price.

30%     I browse products regularly, even when I have no intention of buying.

28%     I buy only when there’s a discount.

27%     I buy only when there’s an offer for free shipping.

20%     I buy premium brand name products.

18%     I often start the checkout process but don’t end up purchasing.

12%     I never buy on my first visit to a website, even if a discount is offered.

11%     I never shop online.

Retailers will spend $5.73 billion making offers online this year, according to eMarketer.  Typically, marketers blast the same ad with the same offer to millions of consumers, according to SteelHouse CEO and online marketing technology expert Mark Douglas. 

“It’s clear that simply giving the same offer to every online shopper is not the way to increase sales,” said Douglas.  “We’re people, we approach shopping just like everything else – based on our personalities and ingrained behaviors.  Retailers that understand and act on these different shopper personalities in real time are the ones that will be successful.”


Woman shopping online – Image by Vancouver Island University via Flickr

Apart from the survey, SteelHouse is using its own anonymous, aggregate shopping behavior metrics collected over the past year to identify and define shopping personality profiles.   

 Gender and Income Preferences: Not Always What You’d Think

            According to the SteelHouse/Synovate survey, women feel more strongly about discounts and offers than men.  One-third of women say they only buy when there’s a discount, and nearly that same amount say they only buy when free shipping is part of the deal.  Less than one-fourth of men say the same. 

            Women are more likely than men to investigate coupon sites before buying (37 percent of women say they do, compared with 26 percent of men).

            The secret to financial success?  Those in the highest income bracket ($75,000+) require discounts and free shipping more than people who make less money:  32 percent in that group say they buy only when there’s a discount (compared with 28 percent overall) and the same percentage say they buy only when shipping is free (compared with 27 percent overall). 

            Those with the highest incomes also check coupon sites more than the others: 37 percent of those who earn $75,000+ look for coupons, compared with 32 percent overall).  But they’re also the respondents most likely to buy premium brand names: 29 percent of the highest income category, compared with 15 percent of those who earn under $25,000.  

            The SteelHouse/Synovate survey has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.  For a full copy of the survey results and a graphic presentation of top-line data, email or visit   

 About SteelHouse

SteelHouse™ ( is pioneering the emerging field of Behavioral Commerce, helping eCommerce companies give different shoppers different offers based on their shopping personalities and buying behaviors. SteelHouse’s patent-pending technology can automatically recommend opportunities to increase conversion and sales, then immediately deploy targeted offers toward those opportunities and manage and optimize campaigns all on one platform and touchscreen interface. SteelHouse’s award-winning technology was created by veteran direct marketers and engineers from eHarmony, E*TRADE, Oracle, the Rubicon Project, ValueClick, and Yahoo!  The company is based in Los Angeles.


About Sandra Bell Kirchman

My passion is for fiction, especially fantasy fiction. I have been writing nearly all my life, since the age of 7 when I produced a 5-page novel called "Angus the Ant" - self-illustrated. My most recent novel WITCHCANERY is not about an ant and is available at most online booksellers. "Witchcanery" has won several awards and has met with modest, although enthusiastic, acclaim from readers around the world. I've also edited and published an anthology for the writers at my site, called "Birth of a Unicorn and Other Stories." Both books are available on Kindle; the latter is also available on Nook. Both books are sold as hard copies at most major online outlets as well as being available as paperbacks. One of my later ventures was horror stories; surprisingly, since horror stories scare me, I find I have a special affinity for them, especially in flash fiction format (under 1000 or less words). Currently, I am working on two WIPs, one a sequel to "Witchcanery," which several readers have made me promise to write; the other an apocalyptic novel called "The Road to the End of the World." There are several examples of this latter novel in my blog "Fantasyfic," formerly known as "Wizards and Ogres and Elves - Oh My!" Fantasyfic is on hold temporarily, while I work on my other two sites--"News, Views, and Gurus," and the said "Fantasyfic.". My other blogs keep me hopping. One is a roundup of news and some fun pieces from around the world. It is listed under the name of "News, Views, and Gurus." My blog "Puppy Dog Tales" is an ongoing sometimes humorous account of my adventures as an avid pet parent and animal lover. My little Shih-Tzu Ling Ling and my long-haired Mexican chihuahua are the joys of my life...and so is my husband, but I don't write about him. Anyhow, my blog "Puppy Dog Tales" is a work of love, featuring my doggies and other pets around the world. I'm a devoted advocate of animal rights and especially backing the cause of animal rescue shelters. My wonderful husband and I live in a very small town in southeastern Saskatchewan on the south side in a rustic, cedar-sided home. Our property is almost a whole acre, and is gracious and pretty (which is not easy to be in one package). All four of us are happy here.

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