Imagine this: It’s early morning at the local grocery store, and the place is filled with those in need of crucial items for their fridge and cupboards. But it’s also filled with people who look like they didn’t get enough sleep last night. A quick scan of the faces in the aisles gives the impression that many in here are not morning people.
The interesting part of these sleep-deprived shoppers is that they are likely to have a wider variety of products in their shopping carts than their well-rested counterparts. Recent research shows that tired people are likely to opt for a wider selection of choices, which goes against what was assumed by many in the past.
Marketers have long assumed that tired people are less likely to care what’s going into their shopping carts because, well, they’re tired. It makes sense as making choices seems to exert an effort that those who are feeling sleepy just don’t have the energy to engage. But in actuality, the opposite is true. Sleepy people are more likely to seek variety in their purchases to help them stay alert. Researchers have determined that variety-seeking is just another way that people who are experiencing sleep deficiency try and find a source of stimulation for their minds and bodies, much like listening to loud music, blasting the air conditioning or drinking coffee.
But because of the misconceptions about tired people not having the energy to make choices, the sleepy consumer has long been overlooked as a viable target audience by merchants and marketers. However, make no mistake, there is a great opportunity here.
Consider that the sleepier customer could open up a whole new, untapped market that is open to more choices, samplings and varieties. For example, take happy hour specials at a bar or restaurant. Offering more variety of food and drink specials throughout the day may help capture the attention of those trying to stay awake.
There are also sleepier times of the year that marketers can target for variety-driven campaigns. The day after daylight saving time is also known to be an exceptionally sleep-deprived day for many, as the clocks have gained an hour and the average person loses some valuable sleep time. By selecting this day for a promotion of a variety of products or even a sampling of products could be beneficial as those trying to stay awake may be more likely to engage with the variety-seeking behavior these events require.
People who are experiencing sleepiness do so at different times of the day. There are those that function well in the morning hours, whose energy may wain as the day wears on. Then there are those that continue to feel tired in the hours following their initial wake up but feel more alert as the day continues. It makes the audience for any promotion or campaign much broader as not all people experience sleepiness at the same time.
The challenge may be to target the right sleepy consumer. Research suggests that those people who have the ability to alleviate their tiredness (i.e., take a nap) may not be as susceptible to variety-seeking behavior because they don’t have the same need to stay awake. The same goes for those that are prepared to purchase a certain kind of item. For instance, the aforementioned sleep-deprived shoppers in the local grocery store would be less likely to buy a variety of potato chips or chocolate bars if they have arrived at the store with a shopping list in hand detailing the specific types of chips or chocolate they need.
By tailoring promotions toward sleepy people, it could not only tap into a previously ignored or misunderstood market but also one that is more inclined to seek variety should it be on offer.