Forbes Consulting MindSight(R) Research Unveils Rich Diversity of Emotions Driving Holiday Shoppers

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Unique “Thrill” Shopper Profile Emerges; Study Also Examines Holiday Shopper Emotions by Product Category

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New research by Forbes Consulting Group (http://www.forbesconsulting.com/) reveals that while many shoppers are turning out this holiday season, the emotions that drive them to stores differ greatly from person to person. Results from the study using the company’s proprietary applied neuroscience technology, MindSight®, has revealed a unique shopper profile. More motivated than others by the “thrill” of shopping, one group pursues shopping almost as a “game,” driven by the feelings of achieving success that go along with finding the perfect item or obtaining that great deal. In contrast, the motives driving other shoppers to the stores relate more strongly to the feelings of doing something special for loved ones in the holiday season.

“The MindSight® findings reveal that although most shoppers are highly motivated by a desire to take care of friends and family and express love during the holiday season, some shoppers derive intense emotional satisfaction from the experience of shopping,” said Dr. David Forbes, Founder and CEO of Forbes Consulting Group. “These shoppers feel the emotions of winning and losing in the shopping experience. It’s more competitive for them. Not surprisingly, these shoppers are more likely to begin their holiday shopping early, arrive at stores before they open to get a good spot in line and brave going out to the stores on Black Fridays or Super Saturdays.”

The findings also show the timeless truth that the joy of the holidays is most of all about children. Parents and others buying toys and games for children feel excited about making kids feel loved, cared for and happy with their presents. Unlike other types of holiday shopping, shopping for kids appears distinctively worry-free with very little concern that kids will be disappointed with what they get for Christmas.

Shopping for Different Products Gives Rise to Different Emotional Experiences
The research conducted by Forbes Consulting also evaluated the emotions associated with top product categories for the holidays. The results indicate some surprising findings with implications for retailers.

  •     For men shopping for the women in their lives, perfume can convey that you understand and care about what she likes, and it can win her appreciation. For women, giving a man a new power tool has this same potential to show you understand and care. However, perfume and power tool gift purchases involve considerable trepidation about “getting it wrong” and seeming “incompetent” in the purchase process.
  •     Meanwhile, for experiencing sheer pleasure during the shopping experience, gourmet foods top the list. Shoppers enjoy a “mental feast” as they explore the wide range of delicious items on display, especially during the holidays. Gourmet food retailers could capitalize on the positive emotional shopping experience surrounding these purchases by ensuring shoppers have a way to engage more of the senses by offering taste samples.

“The MindSight® holiday shopper findings have important implications for retailers,” said Dr. Jeremy Pincus, Principal at the Forbes Consulting Group and Lead Researcher on the project. “For ‘thrill-seeking’ shoppers, it’s all about getting in, getting the deal and getting out of the store. This is particularly true in the early hours after a store opens, which is when these shoppers are more prevalent. Retailers obviously want to keep shoppers in stores browsing, but they could also benefit by making aspects of shopping, such as the check-out process, as efficient as possible. Strategies for targeting other shoppers include genuinely trying to reduce the anxieties men feel when shopping for perfume, for example, or women when they shop for power tools. Doing this could have a beneficial impact on holiday sales of these items.”

About the Research and MindSight®
The research, conducted between November 29-December 5, 2011, included a quantitative survey with 2,014 participants in the U.S. between the ages of 18-65. Half of the participants were men and half were women. The survey covered the top shopping categories, including clothing, consumer electronics, entertainment/media, gourmet foods, arts and crafts, jewelry, perfume, spa services, power tools, small appliances, specialty alcohol, and children’s toys.

The survey included the use of the proprietary Forbes Consulting MindSight® technology to evaluate shopper emotions and motivations.

  •     MindSight® enables researchers to “talk to the emotional brain.” It utilizes a patent-pending technique of applied neuroscience to obtain authentic emotional insight from respondents before their conscious mind can edit responses.
  •     MindSight® can be used in small, qualitative studies as well as large-scale, quantitative studies with thousands of globally dispersed respondents. It delivers real-time results, cost-effectively, and can be deployed on mobile devices.
  •     MindSight® works by “talking with pictures,” rapidly exposing a proprietary and statistically validated library of emotionally evocative images for respondents to react to – each image is linked to one category in Forbes Consulting’s Unified Model of Human Motivation ™ to explain respondent motivations (published in Review of General Psychology, June 2011).

About Forbes Consulting Group
Founded in 1985 and based in Lexington, Massachusetts, the Forbes Consulting Group is a strategic and innovative market research company providing clients with deeper levels of insight about emotions and motivations - and helping them gain strategic market advantage on the strength of this insight. In its 26-year history, Forbes Consulting Group has become a valued resource for Fortune 500 companies. For more information, including the opportunity to receive a demo of MindSight®, please contact sales(at)forbesconsulting(dot)com.

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Rebecca Metz
Metz Communications
(512) 560-5211
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