Why They Buy: Convenience, Of Course

Boston–Convenience may be catalogers’ trump card, judging by the respondents to Catalog Age’s exclusive Consumer Catalog Shopping Survey of more than 1,000 people nationwide.

Among the nearly 50% of respondents who made at least one catalog purchase in 2000, 62.2% cited convenience as a key reason for shopping by catalog. That’s up slightly from 60% of the catalog shoppers surveyed two years ago. And no matter how the respondents were broken out–by age, gender, income, geography–convenience was the top reason across the board.

Which is not to say that catalog shoppers aren’t price conscious. “The price was right” was given as a reason for making a catalog purchase by 40.4% of those surveyed.

Interestingly, price was more important to shoppers with an annual household income of more than $85,000 than it was to those with income of less than $25,000. Slightly more than 43% of those in the highest income bracket cited price, compared with 35.7% of those in the lowest income bracket.

Nearly as important as price to respondents was the merchandise itself: 40.2% of the catalog shoppers surveyed said they’d bought from a catalog because the item was unique.

Impulse doesn’t drive catalog purchases, though. Only 4.6% of those surveyed said they’d made a catalog purchase purely on impulse. The same holds true for online purchases as well: Only 4.2% of the respondents who had made at least one online purchase in 2000 did so on impulse.

Indeed, among Web shoppers, convenience is even more important than it is to catalog buyers: 66.8% of those surveyed cited it as the reason behind their online purchase. Nearly 41% said “the price was right.” And 32.5% credited unique merchandise with driving their online purchase.

The Consumer Catalog Shopping Survey also addresses such topics as the types of purchases consumers buy via catalog and online, how much they spend, how many purchases they make, and how they rate the shopping experience. Just as important, it looks at why more than half of the respondents did not make a catalog purchase during the past year.

Excerpts from the survey are scheduled to appear in the August, October, and November issues of Catalog Age.

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