In the CPC Strategy 2018 U.S. Holiday Shopping Forecast, we asked 1,500 U.S. consumers how they plan to shop, browse and buy holiday gifts this season. Here are the biggest takeaways for retailers and brands.
Eighty-one percent of our survey respondents who plan to shop for gifts online will start on Amazon.com. That’s not surprising, really. If you’ve been paying attention over the last five years, you’ve seen Amazon eclipse many major shopping channels.
The one thing that most advertisers, retailers and brands didn’t quite anticipate was Amazon’s meteoric rise from online marketplace to advertising powerhouse. While we don’t advocate for an Amazon-only strategy, we do believe it should be a crucial part of most brands and retailers strategies this holiday season. Now that Amazon offers a way for advertisers to measure the results of external traffic leading to its product detail pages, it’s a great time to consider building a cohesive advertising plan across channels.
Holiday Shoppers Are Being More Careful About How They Spend
Twenty percent of shoppers are planning to cut back on their gift budgets this year (see chart below), but that doesn’t mean they’ll decrease the quantity of gifts they purchase.
Considering Amazon ranks so highly on the majority of shoppers’ destinations, it’s possible consumers plan to spend less because they can easily measure prices across a wide swath of brands.
It’s worth mentioning there are variants in spending plans across age groups. Twenty-one percent of Gen Z and 24 percent of millennials are planning on spending more this holiday season vs. last year. However, the biggest increase in spending this year will come from Gen X shoppers. Sixty-two percent of 35-44 year olds are planning on spending over $500 on gifts, and 10 percent reported budgeting more than $1,000.
Considering Gen X includes a wide range of ages — all the way from singles to grandparents — plenty of retailers and brands will benefit as long as their strategy encompasses the many channels these shoppers use online.
Forty percent of shoppers surveyed plan to buy their gifts before Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean they’ll wait until Thanksgiving weekend. The number of shoppers planning to shop on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday or Cyber Monday was down 2 percent from last year, coming in at 30 percent.
This isn’t a devastatingly low number, but retailers and brands that don’t have their multichannel marketing strategy in place before the holiday weekend are missing out. Speaking of multichannel, we’re at a point where shoppers don’t want to choose between online and in-store. They want both. Twenty-five percent of consumers surveyed plan to buy holiday gifts both online and in store. In-store-only shoppers are surprisingly strong, coming in at 30 percent, with many of those in the age range of 45-plus.
The Bottom Line for Brands
There’s one big theme we’re seeing emerge this holiday shopping season: consumers want to shop for gifts online and offline. It’s not a battle between two forces, it’s an opportunity to engage customers everywhere they are. More importantly, it will make a customer’s holiday shopping season a lot less stressful and a lot more convenient.
Brands and retailers that are online- or in-store-only should consider opportunities to “cross over” to the other side this holiday season — e.g., opening a pop-up shop for a digitally native brand or investing in an e-commerce site. If that’s not in the cards for this season, it should be at the top of everyone’s list next year — it’s certainly on your customers’ list.
Leanna Kelly is a growth marketing manager at CPC Strategy, a performance marketing agency.
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