The One-Click Wonder: Online Shopping by Personality Type
Online shopping: if you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve done it. Ecommerce is ubiquitous these days. In the United States alone, at least 80 percent of consumers shop online, and Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has become the richest person in the world. Despite these trends and the many advantages of shopping on the Internet – convenience, privacy, an endless bounty of products – a sizable portion of the public still prefers to conduct their business in the traditional manner, inside brick-and-mortar stores.
Are some personality types more likely to do their shopping virtually rather than physically? In our search for an answer to this question, we asked our readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “You do most of your shopping online.” Just 39% agreed overall, suggesting that online shopping is not quite as prevalent as it may seem – while most of our readers probably do some shopping online, the majority of them are still going to physical stores most of the time.
As the chart below indicates, three personality aspects stood out in the data: Mind, Energy, and Nature.
Which personalities do the bulk of their shopping on the Internet? Let’s take a closer look at the results below.
Analysts (46% agreeing)
They say you can find anything on the Internet, and for Intuitive personality types like Analysts, that may be the main appeal of online shopping: the seemingly endless possibilities, the novelty, and the ability to find just what you’re looking for as well as products you didn’t even know existed.
Even more than their Intuitive Energy, though, it’s Analysts’ Thinking Nature that really draws them to online shopping. Analysts are likely to see all the logical advantages of making purchases on the Internet, like efficiency and convenience. Perhaps even more important, the Internet can make comparison shopping easier. Analyst personalities appreciate being able to research products, compare prices, and read customer reviews in order to gather all the information they need to make a rational, informed decision.
This is especially true of Architects (INTJ), the personality types who always have a plan for everything and who agreed with our statement the most (54%). Architects are independent, open to new ideas and technologies, and interested in doing what works best in any given situation – sometimes that means shopping virtually and other times it means going to the store. Self-confident and decisive, Architects are unlikely to second-guess their online purchases, convinced that they’ve made the best choices, backed by reason.
Like Analysts, Diplomats are Intuitive personalities who may be drawn to the vast variety and unexpected discoveries that the Internet has to offer. But they are notably less likely to do the majority of their shopping online. Guided by their Feeling trait, Diplomats believe that there is still something to be said for the ability to connect with other people, ask questions, and get advice from a real-life person in a brick-and-mortar store.
Known for being community-minded idealists, Diplomats may also be more likely than other personalities to stick to a “shop local” philosophy, supporting things like small, local businesses, responsible sourcing of products, and sustainable practices whenever possible, even if it means paying a little more.
Sentinels and Explorers (36% and 35%)
As Observant personalities, Sentinels and Explorers like to see, touch, feel, and smell, a hands-on approach that is hard to exercise on the Internet. When it comes to large purchases in particular, like furniture, major appliances, or cars, Sentinels and Explorers may simply be too uncomfortable with the idea of buying something without seeing it and trying it out in person.
Although their inherent pragmatism makes them open to online shopping when it’s the most convenient option, these personalities still prefer going out to run their errands most of the time. Sentinels, for their part, tend to be traditionalists. They may be relatively undazzled by the promises of online retailers, preferring to stick to their tried-and-true habits and support the hardworking people in their local economy. Explorers, who are often inclined toward instant gratification, may like the immediacy of grabbing an item and tossing it into a cart and the spontaneity of finding an unexpected treasure on a shelf.
Consuls (ESFJ) and Entertainers (ESFP) tied as the least likely personality types to agree with our statement (29%). Both of these types are particularly social creatures who may miss the very hustle and bustle of the physical marketplace that other personalities go to great lengths to circumvent.
Tradition-minded Consuls may reject online shopping simply because of its newness, and because it remains – especially when purchasing some items (groceries) more than others (music) – a more “unusual” alternative. Stylish Entertainers like to experiment with new fashions and designs, something they may find easier to do when they can check them out in person. Some may also be aware that a habit of spending money spontaneously can become all the more dangerous in the one-click world of the Internet.
Confident Individualism and Constant Improvement (44% each agreeing)
Noisy, busy, crowded environments can be quite draining for Introverted personalities, which can make shopping in public unattractive. Confident Individualists and Constant Improvers may see little need, and much inconvenience, in being elbow-to-elbow with other shoppers when they are in search of an item. They may prefer to reserve their energy for work, school, or other social affairs by browsing for merchandise from the comfort of their own home instead. Online shopping can be a calm, solitary activity that they can do while recharging from an otherwise busy day.
People Mastery and Social Engagement (34% and 33%)
When it comes to shopping, what Introverts see as an inconvenience, Extraverts may view as an opportunity. Many People Master and Social Engager personalities enjoy connecting with sales associates, asking questions and getting in-person recommendations, and even chatting with strangers in line. Being out and about in general is stimulating and energizing for Extraverts, and the online alternative may strike them as isolating, dull, and unsatisfying, even if it does have its advantages from time to time.
Much of what we once shopped for in stores can now be bought over the Internet. As our data indicates, though, most of us have yet to take the ecommerce route for the majority of our purchases.
The closest that we could find to exceptions were Analysts, who are driven to make efficient, informed purchasing decisions, and Introverts, who are easily drained by social interactions. Even in these cases, however, respondents were closely divided on the question, suggesting that whether these personality types choose to go online or go to the store may depend a lot on the situation.
While we can be confident that online shopping won’t be slowing down anytime soon, even the ecommerce giant Amazon, which has been experimenting with physical stores, seems to recognize that sometimes the Internet just can’t serve customers as well as a brick-and-mortar store and the people within it.
What about you? Do you do most of your shopping online, or in person? Let us know in the comments below!