The following is a guest blog post by Julie Poast, Director, Campaign Solutions at Valassis.

As a whole, consumers are getting more elusive – making purchase plans, changing plans, looking across multiple screens and media options…all in a given day (or hour). These dynamic shoppers are “always on,” shopping across various days, times and locations. And parents? Do they follow the rest?

Recent research from Valassis – Capturing the Dynamic Retail Shopper: Parent Snap – helps shed light on the purchase journey consumers – and in particular parents – take when researching and buying retail items like apparel, consumer electronics and appliances, furniture and mattresses, home improvement and housewares.

Research and Planning Behavior

Do consumers plan purchases? The findings of our research would clearly indicate “yes.”

Across measured categories, the majority responded they plan and research all purchases, not just more expensive or special occasion items. As expected, traditionally higher-ticket categories (furniture, electronics/appliances) have the greatest levels of planning, but planning also happens for other categories that may not have as high of a price tag (housewares and apparel).

What is interesting is the increase of these planning behaviors for parents. Across all measured categories, parents are significantly more likely to plan and research all purchases and significantly less likely to not research or plan shopping (vs. all respondents).

Why would parents respond with such high planning behavior? Perhaps they are more budget-minded and time-stretched with greater expenses and more activities to pack into each day? Either way, having children in the household clearly makes a difference.

Shopping and Purchase Preferences

Yes, online shopping is growing, but there still is a sizeable group of consumers who say they only or mostly shop in-store or shop online and in-store equally (noted as “omni-channel shoppers” in this study) – even for retail categories. For example, nearly half say they only or mostly shop in-store for apparel and home improvement items.

Although parents do shop in-store, we found that they shop online at a higher incidence than all respondents – and especially when it comes to only shopping online for certain categories.

Capturing the Dynamic Shopper

So where are dynamic shoppers found when ready to make the purchase online? You guessed it – at home. Across price points and categories, 64 percent or more say “home” is their typical location when making an online purchase. Parents, too, selected “home” as the primary location (although to a lesser extent than all respondents).

Across categories, work is also a popular place for making online purchases. Not surprisingly, parents are more likely to visit websites and order less expensive retail items while at work (as well as on-the-go), fitting in shopping wherever they can.

But did you know where else consumers shop online? The store. And parents? They are even more likely to do so for apparel and home improvement categories. This is another example of how the lines between brick ‘n mortar and online continue to blur.


If reaching and engaging the always-on, multi-tasking dynamic shopper has left you perplexed, you’re not alone. Consumers – and certainly parents – lead busy lives, and trying to understand their planning and shopping behavior can puzzle even the best marketers. Continuing to understand consumer nuances and engagement opportunities, especially as it relates to the retail category, will help marketers and advertisers better sync to these dynamic shoppers’ needs and impact their buying decisions.