10 holiday consumer trends brands should know

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10 holiday consumer trends brands should know

By Michael Sebastian | Posted: October 8, 2012
Most consumers plan to start their holiday shopping … now.

That’s according to a study out today by Yesmail, which surveyed 500 consumers about their holiday spending habits and analyzed the marketing campaigns of 20 major brands. Yesmail makes email-marketing software.

The results could help shape your brand’s holiday marketing efforts online—or at least make you go, “Hmmmmm…”

Here are 10 findings from the study:

1. Most consumers (51 percent) start their holiday shopping in October or November. This time frame coincides with big shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the study noted. Twenty percent start their shopping before October, though 24 percent wait until December.

2. Consumers plan to spend more money this year. During the 2011 holidays, sales increased by 4.1 percent, and it appears that trend will continue in 2012. Seven out of 10 people surveyed plan to spend the same or more than they did last year.

3. Consumers pay less attention to review sites during the holidays. The study noted that consumers’ research habits are generally the same during the holidays as they are throughout the year, with a few significant changes, including: “Shoppers utilize independent review sites such as CNET, Yelp, and Consumer Reports less during the holiday season than during the year.”

4. Nearly all consumers buy stuff online: Roughly 97 percent said they shop online at least several times a year.

5. Fewer people than you might think buy stuff on their smartphones. The study found that just 19 percent of mobile phone owners make purchases regularly from their device, compared with more than three-fourths (76 percent) of mobile-phone owners use their computers to buy stuff online. Interestingly, mobile shoppers use their devices to compare products and prices, and not necessarily make purchases, according to the study.

6. In-store shoppers prefer weekends; online shoppers buy on weekdays. The study said that 79 percent of in-store shoppers do most of their shopping on weekends; meanwhile, 47 percent of online shoppers who picked a day of week they prefer to shop mentioned Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Only 31 percent prefer weekends.

7. Most online shoppers browse in the evening hours. Yesmail asked consumers what time of day they shop online, and more than 80 percent gave a time preference. Among them, 40 percent said the evening hours, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. However, only 5 percent of email campaigns from brands analyzed by Yesmail occurred during those hours.

8. Personal discount is an important component in email campaigns. Consumers ranked promotional offers in emails by how much they influenced purchase decisions. Fifty-four percent said “personal discount” was No. 1, followed by free shipping (30 percent), money off (13 percent), rewards points (2 percent), and gift with purchase (1 percent).

9. Social media influences online shopping habits more than in-store habits. Half of respondents to the Yesmail study said they are strongly or somewhat influenced by social media when making online purchases. For those shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, the percentage drops to 42 percent.

10. Holiday campaigns on Twitter and Facebook spark less engagement. When compared with all marketing campaigns on these platforms, holiday-themed campaigns—including those in the spring/summer (Mother’s Day, Fourth of July)—created less engagement. But the study said that brands can still capitalize on festive campaigns if they focus on promoting holiday spirit as opposed to products and events.

Download the full study here.