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The Mindset of a Christmas Bargain Hunter, Explained

Bethany Johnson, Writer

The Christmas shopping season calls to mind iconic window displays and a rush of shoppers, with retailers pulling out all the stops to brighten up holiday buyers’ days. But some shoppers are only looking for one thing: great deals. Enter the bargain hunter.

Never is this truer than during the Christmas holiday season, when these competitive shoppers hop online to scout quality gifts and all the trimmings — for less. Here’s what businesses need to know about capturing the attention of the bargain hunter. 

Understanding the bargain hunter

They’re strategic. Bargain hunters do their homework before committing to a purchase,  and they’re not swayed by the need for instant gratification. 

They’re not confined to one demographic. Until recently, analysts said discount shoppers were mostly of one generation or income level. Today, we know better. Recent coverage from Inc. tells us that more than half of millennial shoppers “always” look for a deal before buying online, as opposed to only 40% of their baby boomer counterparts. 

They love the chase. The thrill of the hunt stems from a gaming spirit, not necessarily a miserly one. By purchasing something at a discount, bargain hunters feel like they’ve won something. Clocks announcing a sale, for example, are one way retailers trigger a sense of competition between shoppers and create excitement. 

How to meet the bargain hunter’s expectations

With bargain hunters actively seeking out deals, and potentially comparing prices at other retailers, pointing them in the direction of your holiday promotions is key.

Prominently display sales. Sale seekers scan for clearance sections and bargain bins first, their well-trained eyes spotting discount signs and sections. This contrasts with the wandering, display-browsing meander of typical shoppers, who look at itemsfirst, signagesecond. Online, bargain hunters also prioritise clearance and sales. Instead of scrolling through your home page, they may click your navigation menu or “Shop All” tab, hoping for a Christmas sale option among the usual FAQ, about, return policy, and contact links. 

Understand shoppers’ online referral sources, and pay it forward. Did website visitors arrive from a link shared in a sale-swapping group full of coupon-clipping enthusiasts? Or from a blog post featuring your item in a gift list of great seasonal deals? You can see how uniquely motivated each visitor is by understanding where they came from, and also help them brag about their score to others. 

Make your deals readily accessible. If no deal is detected, they’ll move on, and fast. Check your online store’s bounce rate for disappointed value shoppers who could be skipping out. Specifically, you’ll see visitors go to product pages, sniff around for a telltale price-slash graphic or sale badge, and, if unsatisfied, leave. Another common exit point for bargain hunters is the checkout page. Shoppers may pause mid-buy to open a new tab and hunt promo codes before ultimately deciding against the purchase.

How to catch their eye 

Because bargain hunters are tantalised by savings, it’s all about making it appealing and fun to cash in on every great deal they find.

Create FOMO. Offer Christmas flash sales or a deal of the day, or create a voucher or announcement pop-up showing your dwindling supply of inventory. Create a sense of urgency around your seasonal promotions with similar tactics — such as using an online countdown clock, or sending email reminders that there are only so many days left of your Christmas sale — to let them know your special prices won’t be around forever.

Offer multiple ways to “win.” Use discount codes to offer a deeper price cut on sale items. Or incentivise the purchase of multiple gift cards by offering a pack at a cheaper price. You could also offer a one-time discount for joining your email list or subscribing to your newsletter (which you can also use to tell them about your next big seasonal sale). 

Tease the next win. The value in a bargain buyer is repeat business. Drive them to return to your online store by getting them excited with the dates of the next clearance event, free gift wrapping on their next purchase, or loyalty points to accrue toward free products and services.

Shoppers love Christmas sales, some more than others. Discounts and promotions not only help keep bargain hunters on budget, but they’re also a way to gamify the experience and make them feel proud of their purchases. While big-box stores offer their flashiest promotions during the holidays, small businesses can also get involved and engage with their shoppers. By doing so, sellers can create a shopping experience that draws in bargain hunters long after the last Christmas sale.