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Are you a hunter, a browser, or a howser?


Inspired by another Get Elastic post about e-commerce, I want to talk about different types of shoppers.  Traditionally, shoppers are often labeled as hunters or gatherers. Linda Bustos at Get Elastic proposes a third, hybrid type: the howser (not to be confused with the Doogie of the same name, though I’m sure you’ll all agree that NPH has come a long way since his days as a prodigy physician – just look at the Harold and Kumar movies and Dr. Horrible).

Basically, the types are defined as:

  • Hunter: searching for a specific item or items
  • Browser: just looking around (window shopping), not be looking for anything specific
  • Howser: looking for something in a particular category, but not committed to a specific item

Of course there are circumstances when you would be in any of those categories. For example, you know you need new basic black pumps, and you’re prepared to spend $150. You need a size 8, closed pointy toe, 3″-4″ heel. Then you’re a hunter; you’re on a very focused hunt for a specific item. Or maybe, you’re just out shopping; you have no particular agenda or goals. Then you’re a browser; you’re just looking around until something strikes your fancy.

You may recall that I explored some of my personal issues with hunting vs. browsing in the great shopping experiment of ’08. Browsing, though fun, is not a good way to be a productive shopper. Hunting, on the other hand, is focused to the point where a shopper ignores all else. To me, the howser is the happy middle ground between a rambling, random shopping trip and an overly specific, targeted trip.

For example, let’s say the howser needs a new party dress, but she hasn’t decided on any one color, style, or store. She’s set a budget for the dress, but other than that, she has no other limiting criteria. Her shopping trip has a goal, but she’s not so focused that she avoids all distractions and the possibility of stumbling upon something great. Her goal is specific enough that she knows the type of item she needs, without spending all day drifting from shop to shop with nothing to show for it. To me, the howser is the perfect compromise between spontaneity and constraint.

I want to think more about the way these types of shoppers interact online, but I’ll save that for my next post. For now, what kind of shopper are you? Does one type appeal more to or work better for you?

Jenn @ July 11, 2008


  1. mitormouri August 11, 2008 @ 1:24 am


  2. Robert December 19, 2015 @ 5:43 pm

    God help me, I put aside a whole afoeonrtn to figure this out.

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