Retailers Count on Aspirational Shoppers to Boost Revenue This Season

Marketers taking a page from Oprah's book in order to lure customers into stores

One of the hallmarks of Oprah’s eponymous, long-running, culture-changing show was its annual “My Favorite Things” show. Aired in anticipation of the holidays, it was one of the more coveted tickets because not only was Oprah introducing herself as a tastemaker, but she also generously gifted the attendees of that particular show with her favorite things.

Retailers soon followed suit and created their own versions of the perfect wish list for that holiday season.

Dallas-based Neiman Marcus creates an indulgent list every year for the aspirational customer who may not be able to afford the item quite yet, but log it in the mental “I Want” rolodex.

“This is a great time for retailers and brands to make a connection with their shoppers. It plants the seed in your head. I might not make that purchase now, but I know it’s out there,” says Michael Shmarak, vice president at DKC Public Relations, Marketing & Government Affairs in Chicago told Reuters.

Analysts say the timing could mean shoppers feel that the occasional indulgence may not be a bad thing.

“We believe that shoppers are buying one pricey gift as opposed to many inexpensive gifts when it comes to close family and even children,” said Dana Holmes, editor in chief of Gifts.com in the report. “But, we are also seeing a big push by retailers to have a variety of gifts under $50, and even under $25, so that shoppers can get a little something extra without feeling guilty after making those big purchases.”

Oprah’s list may be a lost economic indicator. Last year’s’ list most expensive item was $595, but this year, for a mere $4,999, customers can get the Bose VideoWave II home theater system, leading some analysts to believe that consumers are feeling increasingly more confident about the economy.

Reuters has more on how the Oprah effect is a good barometer for the economy.

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