Portrait of an Online Shopper: Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior

15 Dec 2015  ·  Farshad Kooti, Kristina Lerman, Luca Maria Aiello, Mihajlo Grbovic, Nemanja Djuric, Vladan Radosavljevic ·

Consumer spending accounts for a large fraction of the US economic activity. Increasingly, consumer activity is moving to the web, where digital traces of shopping and purchases provide valuable data about consumer behavior. We analyze these data extracted from emails and combine them with demographic information to characterize, model, and predict consumer behavior. Breaking down purchasing by age and gender, we find that the amount of money spent on online purchases grows sharply with age, peaking in late 30s. Men are more frequent online purchasers and spend more money when compared to women. Linking online shopping to income, we find that shoppers from more affluent areas purchase more expensive items and buy them more frequently, resulting in significantly more money spent on online purchases. We also look at dynamics of purchasing behavior and observe daily and weekly cycles in purchasing behavior, similarly to other online activities. More specifically, we observe temporal patterns in purchasing behavior suggesting shoppers have finite budgets: the more expensive an item, the longer the shopper waits since the last purchase to buy it. We also observe that shoppers who email each other purchase more similar items than socially unconnected shoppers, and this effect is particularly evident among women. Finally, we build a model to predict when shoppers will make a purchase and how much will spend on it. We find that temporal features improve prediction accuracy over competitive baselines. A better understanding of consumer behavior can help improve marketing efforts and make online shopping more pleasant and efficient.

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Social and Information Networks Computers and Society


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