While Retailers do their best to prepare for the busy holiday season—creating promotion calendars, adding new inventory, optimizing advertising touch points—there’s one element that remains relatively unpredictable, the consumer. Advertisers do their best to anticipate how they will shop (and invest accordingly), but consumers always surprise us. At Adlucent, we survey consumers throughout the holiday season to see if their holiday shopping plans may be changing. Preliminary results tell us directionally what we can expect. Here’s a look at what we’ve found:
The List of Potential Buyers is Huge
52% of the consumers we surveyed said they plan to shop for themselves, or others, this holiday season. An additional 20% said they are considering shopping for the holidays. This means that Retailers will be able to compete for dollars from nearly three out of four Americans through the end of the year, or roughly 230,000,000 people.
Mature Shoppers Start Early
Despite the buzz around Post-Halloween sales, as of the first week of November, only 32% of Americans had begun holiday shopping. So who are these shoppers? According to our data, the biggest segment are females, in their sixties, and they live in rural areas. This could be a particularly valuable segment for home goods and furnishings Retailers.
Search Engines Beat Out Amazon
According to our survey, 47% plan to start researching products on a search engine like Google and Bing, followed by Amazon with 31%, and 13% in stores. This is lower than the data Bloomreach published which found that more consumers (44%) are starting their search on Amazon rather than a search engine (34%). Every survey will likely yield different results, but the important thing to remember is that search engines will continue to be an important connection point between consumers and the products they need.
So who are using these channels? We found that males and those living in rural areas are more inclined to start on search engines with females and those living in suburban settings preferring Amazon.
Consumers Shop Online and In Stores
The lines between the digital and physical worlds continue to blur as consumers easily move between the two while researching and buying products and services. We asked shoppers if they prefer to purchase online, in stores or both. Overwhelmingly (61%) of respondents said they will buy products both online and in stores. An additional 20% said they will only buy online, signaling the important role that digital plays today. We also found that females are more likely to shop online whereas males prefer to go into stores.
Smartphones Play a Significant Role in the Shopping Experience
When consumers research products, desktops continue to be the device of choice with 56% of respondents saying they use them. Smartphones took a narrow second place with 49% of those surveying saying they use the device when searching for more information. Even though ads on desktops convert at a higher rate than mobile ads, it’s important for retailers to continue to invest in mobile as it plays a critical role in sales that take place on other channels and devices.
What’s surprising is that 42% of respondents said they are willing to purchase on a smartphone. That’s a large gap from 2014, when IBM reported that only 21% of sales came from smartphones and their prediction for 2015 is 26%. Retailers have made significant investments to improve the mobile shopping and checkout process so it will be interesting to see if consumer’s willingness to purchase on mobile devices actually transpires.
Targeting younger shoppers via mobile will be key. We found that people aged 25-34 are more likely to research on a smartphone, followed by 18-24 year olds. Knowing that young adults ages 18 to 29 are more likely to own a mobile phone or smartphone than a desktop or laptop (according to eMarketer’s latest study), it’s imperative to target this younger demographic through mobile this holiday season.
Social Buy Buttons May Pay Off With Older Demographic Age Groups
We asked shoppers if they would be willing to make a purchase on social sites and a full 86% of them said they will not. Of those who are willing to purchase via social media, the age groups were dominated by those aged 35-44 and 65+. While social plays an important role in brand awareness, it’s not likely that the channel will drive a large volume of sales over the holidays. Social sites continue to make investments to become more shopper friendly, but consumers just haven’t warmed up to the idea quite yet.
Make sure to check back after the Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday holiday weekend as we’ll run another analysis to see if these results are holding true. In the meantime, don’t miss our holiday-focused resources to ensure you’re getting the most out of your digital program this season.
About the data:
Based on 200 responses, USA, 18-65+ years, 54/46% male to female