Posted December 28, 2011 9:37 am by with 0 comments

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Before we get started I will tell you that I honestly had not given this idea a thought because I don’t drink. That’s just a statement of fact so you have context for this post and nothing else. I could give a hairy rodent’s behind if others drink because that’s totally a personal choice. In fact, it’s one that online merchants apparently like very much!

What lies underneath some ecommerce success is the simple fact that drinking and online shopping is somewhat of a hobby for many, whether they intend it or not. An article in the New York Times looks at this market segment of sorts. Quite honestly, it’s a fascinating thing to consider.

After enjoying a few drinks, some people go dancing. Others order food. And for some, it’s time to shop online.

“I have my account linked to my phone, so it’s really easy,” said Tiffany Whitten, of Dayton, Ohio, whose most recent tipsy purchase made on her smartphone — a phone cover — arrived from Amazon much to her surprise. “I was drunk and I bought it, and I forgot about it, and it showed up in the mail, and I was really excited.”

Based on this type of purchasing behavior maybe we should be adding Buzzed New Year to the growing list of online holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday etc etc. Think about all the three day weekend holidays that generate sales like Memorial Day and Labor Day in the US. While people talk about sales for these mini-vacations the fact is that most people who like to drink use these extended times away to get a little extra partying in. As a result, shopping while drinking incidents will likely increase on those days as well. Online merchants unite! What better time to offer great deals than New Year’s Eve when people who don’t usually drink might “let their hair down”?

The article continues

Chris Tansey, an accountant in Australia, went shopping online after drinking late one night (to be precise, it was well into the morning). By the end of the session, he had bought a $10,000 motorcycle tour of New Zealand.

“The hang-ups of spending your hard-earned cash are so far removed from your life when you’ve had a bottle of wine,” Mr. Tansey said in an e-mail. The New Zealand trip was terrific, he said. But a pair of $3 sunglasses on eBay “turned out to be horrible fakes, with $17 of postage that I obviously didn’t see with beer goggles.”

Online shopping implications aside, would you feel comfortable if your accountant admits that he drinks to excess then goes on 5 figure online spending binges? Talk about an online reputation issue. Looks like one Aussie accountant may have created one for himself!

Admittedly, this one is hard to measure since there are no online breathalyzer tests (although GMail does offer a grace period for sending that drunken e-mail to an ex so maybe there could be a test developed?). Online retailers see traffic spike at times when people are off the job and it can be assumed that many are in the unwinding phase of their day. Maybe Groupon could offer some special deals during the night time hours that would be even harder to resist if the shopper is bit less inhibited? Maybe massage sales would skyrocket?

In all seriousness, though, this is something to consider as a marketer for sure. You may not want to blatantly go after drunk folks with messages like “Hey, have you too much to drink? Now is the time to get a few bargains!” but there might be techniques to consider to squeeze a few more dollars out of someone who is ready to spend. Some retailers are already there for sure.

A recent array of nighttime offers sent to a shopper’s e-mail inbox included: from 6 to 9 p.m., a limited-quantity sale on fashions at Neiman Marcus; at 7:38 p.m., a promotion for three-day stays at Loews hotels; at 8:44 p.m., a promotion by Gilt for macaroons and faux-fur blankets; and at 2:23 a.m., an offer by Saks for a $2,000 gift card with purchase.

Of course, this type of behavior is not to be tqaken lightly.

Kristin A. Kassaw, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Baylor, said online shopping while drunk could have serious financial consequences.

“When you’re loading things you can’t feel or touch into this fake cart, you don’t have a sense of, ‘I’m buying all this stuff, I’m buying too much.’ It takes you away from the actual spending-money experience,” she said.

All in all, it is an interesting topic to consider because with online commerce many of the usual walls that could prevent someone from making just about any purchase are non-existent. Being drunk is certainly one way that inhibitions may be completely removed in the “anonymity” of the online environment.

OK, so now it’s time to confess. What have you purchased in the past while you were a bit tipsy or flat out drunk? Its a slow week so take the time to share with us. Are you planning to do any New Year’s Eve online shopping after midnight strikes so we can officially kick off the first Buzzed new Year shopping day?

Online drinking image from Shutterstock