The Politics Of Shopping: Blue State Consumers Less Likely To Shop In-Store
National brands trying to segment their email lists might look again at one of those tried-and-true variables from direct mail: geography.
A new study by Esquire Advertising found that in-store shopping surged in some states during the holidays, and declined in others as consumers moved online.
There are many other factors, but the “starkest differences” have to do with the politics of the states, the study notes.
To start with, brick-and-mortar stores in blue states suffered a 24% decline in store traffic. The biggest hits were in California, Illinois and New Mexico.
But red states saw a 45% combined increase, Mississippi and Alabama enjoying the biggest hikes.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that Blue State denizens are more likely to take seriously the advice to wear masks and social distance. Red state citizens are more prone to think the pandemic is a fake.
Of course, those perceptions are stereotypical, and do not reflect the feelings of everyone in either group of states.
The study covers shopping behavior at 6,150 furniture, home appliance and other retail stores during Black Friday weekends in 2020 and 2019.
Esquire captured mobile IDS for over 670,000 consumers, and matched them to demographic profiles. “Some of the results were pretty surprising and underscore the unique situation retailers are in right now,” says Eric Grindley, founder and CEO, Esquire Advertising.
Esquire found that Gen X were the most active-in-store age cohort. And overall, families with children showed a greater propensity for shopping in-store.
Blue State millennials were more likely to stay at home than older age groups that face greater risk.
The biggest decline in in-store shopping was among consumers who dwell in multi-family housing.
Assuming these stats are accurate, ecommerce brands could face hurdles in trying to convert red state shoppers. Are these folks driven by a desire to visit stores, regardless of the pandemic?
The findings are hardly uniform. Georgia — while it went blue in the Presidential election — had less of an uptick in foot traffic than Mississippi, although it still saw some. North Carolina seemed to see no increase, whereas Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont and Maine experienced jumps.
Illinois, California and New Mexico saw declines in in-store visits.
There is an opportunity here for ecommerce brands. Break out the millennials in those states, and attempt to move them toward online conversion. Offer discounts and BOPIS options. This is less about politics than convenience.