How to recognize different types of shoppers and provide the products
and services each one wants.
by Jan Landon
Conventional wisdom warns about prejudging customers as they enter your
flower shop. But categorizing them is an entirely different matter, and
doing so just might help you provide better service.
Did you know that retail consumers generally fall into five categories,
each with a unique set of styles, objectives and needs? According to
Mark L. Michelson, president and CEO of Michelson & Associates, Inc., a
consulting and research firm in Marietta, Ga., it’s true. There are the
“Born to Shop”ers, the “Sales Seekers/Coupon Clippers,” the “Task
Masters,” the “Moms and Kids” and the “Get Me Outta Here!”s.
“Many retailers don’t take the time to understand customers’ needs,” Mr.
Michelson says. “They tend to focus on selling product instead of
fulfilling needs, and needs are rarely centered around product.”
Especially for florists, sales are about emotion. “Flower buyers are not
buying flowers,” explains Mr. Michelson. “They are buying an apology,
sympathy, an expression, or maybe even love. They’re buying emotional
Fulfilling customers’ needs by helping them select appropriate floral
gifts for each occasion (or need) is essential to good service. And
being aware of the various customer types can help you do just that,
leading to greater buyer satisfaction and repeat business. Here are the
characteristics of each buyer category.
born to shop
These customers love to linger, explore, enjoy a cup of coffee and talk
about what they are shopping for. For this crowd, shopping is a joyful
“They want to know everything you have,” Mr. Michelson says. “They’re
going to hang out. They’re going to schmooze. They’re more likely to
trade stories about shopping than those in the other categories.”
The buyers in this group see themselves as trendsetters, and they’re
always seeking something new. They like specialty stores. Mr. Michelson
describes them as “princesses” and “queens” because they like to be
They also travel in packs, Mr. Michelson says. And they enjoy special
events like a “Girls Day Out”; they like excitement and invitations to
He describes this group as “easy,” but he advises that to keep them
coming back, you must continuously offer new items, so they have
something to discover each visit. Displays need to be rotated and always
feature new products.
This group not only likes to shop but also likes to buy. They are, in
fact, the group most likely to buy. Mr. Michelson suggests having coffee
or tea or other treats on hand to enhance and extend their stay in your
sales seekers/ coupon clippers
Don’t expect to see these folks unless you have a sale going on. That is
the only way “Sales Seekers/Coupon Clippers” will go into a store, Mr.
These shoppers love discount-type stores, and they are attracted to
displays that give the impression they are getting a bargain. They
prepare in advance to buy, reading sale ads and mailers.
“You can always spot the coupon clippers because they have coupons or
sales fliers in their hands,” he says. “Some kinds of stores are
specifically designed to appeal to these shoppers, who see bargains in
disorganized environments. Stores that are intentionally full of clutter
often create an aura of savings
value.” A florist can
appeal to this type of buyer by having lots of flowers and other
products as well as regular sales and/or a well-stocked bargain or
clearance area, Mr. Michelson says. They like volume.
These types won’t cross what he calls “the marble barrier.” It doesn’t
matter if a store is offering great discounts, if the entrance has gold,
glitter and marble or anything perceived as high end, they won’t cross
it. And they also don’t like fancy displays.
Sales Seekers/Coupon Clippers will spend money; they’re often drawn into
a store in search of sale items but leave with other purchases as well.
These consumers want buying to be efficient, in terms of both time and
accessibility. For Task Masters, shopping is just another chore to fit
between picking up the dry cleaning and picking up the children at the
end of a workday. It’s about the product, not the packaging.
This group typically includes people who work full time and are
white-collar professionals. They are the list-makers. They have tunnel
vision, and, while shopping, they’re already thinking about what they
have to do next.
“While they don’t hate shopping, it’s just another chore,” Mr. Michelson
A store with good navigational clues appeals to Task Masters. The intent
of displays needs to be obvious. For example, bereavement gifts and
sweet sentiments need to be clearly marked. Don’t clutter things up for
“They want to be able to quickly scan an area,” Mr. Michelson shares,
adding that they don’t want to be confused because it takes more of
their time. They will spend money, but they want to do it quickly. And
if they like how a store works, they will come back.
“If you make it easy and convenient for them, and if they know you’re
the main one they want to turn to, they’ll come back,” he says.
moms and kids
It is all about the kids with this group of buyers. If a store is in a
suburban area surrounded by new or developing housing areas, Moms and
Kids will be a significant part of its customers.
The simplest suggestion for Moms and Kids is to move breakable items off
shelves that are within reach of children, Mr. Michelson advises. “These
shoppers’ basic paranoia is that their kids are going to destroy
everything in the store,” he says.
The secret to attracting these shoppers is to make your store child
friendly. Make sure your fixtures and displays are sturdy. Have an area
with toys and games for the children to play with while the parents
shop. Give freebies to the children, Mr. Michelson suggests, like
short-stemmed flowers or small plants.
Parents also like to take their children to stores that offer some type
of educational experience. Mr. Michelson recommends creating an area
where children can pot plants or make simple bouquets.
get me outta here!
The name of this group explains it all. They hate shopping, and they
expect the worst. They don’t want to chat or drink coffee or ponder too
many options; they want stores that help them get their shopping done as
quickly as possible. For them, faster is not fast enough.
Mr. Michelson states that the Get-Me-Outta-Here! group is primarily made
up of men. “In flower shops, they are the most confused,” he says. “They
need help with what’s appropriate. They need clear lines of visibility
and navigation. Make the choices very easy for them.”
Displays need to be clearly marked and easily understood. These shoppers
like to grab it and go. Ready-made bouquets and arrangements and
ready-dressed plants are great options. If they have to discuss, order
and wait, they won’t come back, Mr. Michelson says.
how do you know who’s who?
Mr. Michelson says there are no percentages of the number of consumers
who fall into each of these buying groups because most of the
information has been gathered from experience and anecdotally. And, he
says, people may switch from one group to another depending on the
situation. For example, a Mom-and-Kids buyer without children along may
easily become a Born-to-Shop buyer.
Identifying different types of buyers when they walk into a store is the
key. Mr. Michelson suggests looking at a shopper’s body language and
attitude to figure out into which category he or she falls. “Make it a
game among the staff to identify who is who,” he says.
If an employee is especially fond of children, he or she might best work
with buyers in the Moms-and-Kids category. If another employee is
especially gregarious and chatty, he or she might match well with the
Born to Shop buyers. And the most efficient no-nonsense worker might
work well with a Task Master or a Get Me Outta Here!
Whatever the type of buyer, Mr. Michelson says that service by
well-trained staff remains the most important thing a store can offer.
“Floral businesses often provide flowers for highly emotional events,
like weddings and funerals,” he offers. “If helpful, efficient service
isn’t provided, or if the employees aren’t knowledgeable, the customers
will never come back, regardless of type.”
Jan Landon, a daily newspaper reporter for 18 years, is now a freelance
writer residing in Overland Park, Kan.
For more information about Mark Michelson or Michelson & Associates,
Inc., visit www.michelson.com.
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