Ever since Shopee’s fist Midnight Mega Sale earlier this year, a new trend has caught the eye of astute marketers and ecommerce platform owners alike. Named “Cinderella Shoppers” by the Singaporean ecommerce giant, nocturnal consumers are beginning to shop after midnight, most commonly between 12 and 2 AM. Now, marketers are asking themselves what draws them to hit the purchase button in the wee hours of the night—and more importantly, what it means for their brands.
There’s been much ink spilled about emerging consumer behaviors of the new digital era, and of the spending mindset brought about by the proliferation of ecommerce. From the fear of missing out on in-demand products as they run out of stock to the popularity of retail therapy, consumers are changing why, how and when they buy—and online shopping has become an essential part of the equation. This shift spans a plethora of categories, from luxury items to grocery delivery, and will continue to expand as ecommerce expands to more industries.
These changes were accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic—which, for instance, came with a steep increase in mobile online shopping. Although the possibility to shop from anywhere is not necessarily new, the comfort level reached during lockdown surely is—and it has caused old habits to go the way of the horse and carriage for most consumers. With Cinderella Shopping growing strong and steady in Asia and beyond, it’s time to reassess our strategies and consider the new opportunities that are opening up.
The Rise of a New Trend
Before Shopee’s Midnight Mega Sale, the brand had already noticed a not-so-subtle tendency toward late-night shopping. It was their curiosity about this pattern that prompted them to do a midnight sale in the first place—a bid to target those audiences with flash deals that were available only during the first two hours of the day. Surprisingly, the sale recorded six times more purchases than on any average occasion, which incentivized the ecommerce platform to keep on rewarding these late-night shoppers with more benefits.
This trend is not limited to any region or industry. As Global Head of Innovation & Social, I’ve witnessed the phenomenon first hand with one of the world’s largest producers of electronics. Not long ago, we supported a live event in Italy to promote the brand’s new product offerings, and saw the highest conversion rates between 10 and 11 PM, seven hours after the livestream had ended. At first, I was surprised by the stats, but with consumers being able to access on-demand content anytime and anywhere, it’s only natural that they will do so when they see fit. Moreover, it’s fair to assume that consumers may want to take their time to research the product before buying.
This isn’t to say that your efforts should exclusively focus on the wee hours of the night. Peak timings in general stand between 8 and 9 PM, but if consumers are skewing towards new routines, looking into—and rewarding—these late-night shoppers can be worth it. After all, all uncharted territory is a good opportunity to stand out among your competitors.
You Can’t Put the Same Shoe on Every Foot
When we think about the reasons that may have led to this sudden rise in late-night shopping, many different factors come to mind. One thing, though, is key: where it would normally be impossible to go to a store after a certain hour, the proliferation of online shopping made it feasible for consumers to purchase at any time.
Although late-night shopping can be commonly associated with impulsive purchases that are cancelled the morning after, this is not always the case. For some, the frenzy of the work day prevents them from finding the time to sit down and fill the shopping cart, or research the products they’re interested in buying. At midnight, though, when the household is asleep and the phone has stopped ringing, it’s easier to focus. At the same time, checking something off the to-do list helps people sleep more soundly, which explains why some may feel the urge to click the ‘order’ button before hitting the sack.
You can’t put the same shoe on every foot, but you can try and see where the footprints lead to. That is, take the time to get to know your audience. By following their patterns, you’ll be able to provide a customer experience that adapts and responds to their habits—whether with online shopping, virtual events or any kind of content.
How to Be the Belle of the Ball
Once you’ve gotten familiar with your consumers, their behaviors and nuances, it’s important to deliver experiences that will reward and incentivize them. One way to do this is by offering special flash deals for night owls—but you can move further up in the funnel, too. After witnessing how our livestream views scaled later in the day, my team and I decided to complement future day-time streams with additional content for our audiences to enjoy later if they had missed the action live.
Seeking new partnerships can also expand your reach. This includes marketplaces that can add visibility and sales, but also celebrities and content creators that will allow you to tap into their fanbase. It’s not merely about capitalizing on their followers; with creators that consumers already love, you can make shopping a more innovative and social experience that connects the dots across the entire customer journey. For their Mega Midnight Sale, Shopee offered users a unique experience with K-pop girl group Mamamoo, who performed through Shopee Live.
This serves as a great example of how you can draw new audiences into your existing deals and benefits. Even when consumers are not necessarily in shopping mode, the right content and the right time can set the mood. Think about it: if audiences are leveraging the last couple of hours before going to sleep to make purchases, they must be using the time to watch other types of content, too. We know revenge bedtime procrastination is real, so take the opportunity to interact with your consumers when it works for them. That is, when they actually have the time to engage.
Cinderella Shopping is still an emerging trend, but just like with any new audience, it’s never too soon to build a relationship. To do so, start by making sure you’re familiar with your consumers’ behavior, and give yourself the opportunity to experiment with new ways to target, incentivize and reward those with new habits. You can’t just wave the magic wand to engage with late-night shoppers, but the more equipped you are, the higher the chances of delivering a successful strategy that supports emerging behaviors while rewarding your most loyal customers.
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