October 04, 2011

Shopper Sciences, a retail marketing and shopper insights consultancy, and a unit of IPG’s Mediabrands, released a study that details how shoppers will be using digital media to make purchase decisions this holiday season.

“This is shaping up to be a no holds barred, digitally-empowered shopping season,” said John Ross, CEO of Shopper Sciences, “Retailers will need to harness every strategy possible to connect and convert this new media-savvy shopper who is comfortable using mobile, social and digital means to get the best deal.”

To jump-start sales, Ross says shoppers can expect retailers to leak Black Friday deals early, utilize flash sales, ante up rewards points, offer outrageous bargains, throw in free shipping, and get increasingly aggressive as the clock ticks down to December 25th.

“It would be easy to look at shopper sentiment and predict a disappointing holiday season,” said Ross. “Our data shows an American shopper who is trying to maintain the holiday experience for their families, even with a poor economy.”

Key findings include:

Despite worries about the economy—41 percent of respondents said they feel the country has already slipped back into recession—more than half of shoppers say they plan to spend as much or more on holiday gifts this year compared to last.

42 percent of shoppers said they will spend more time doing online research before making a gift purchase decision this year, and they also are more likely to harness emerging technologies.

Shoppers’ Mobile Helper

Nearly half of smartphone users (48 percent) say the phone is their “new BFF” when it comes to shopping. They plan to use it even more while shopping this holiday season. A smart phone in one pocket can mean more money saved in the other as shoppers cash in on Tweets, Facebook updates and texts directing them to the deal of the minute.

Mobile influence on shopping behavior in stores is up over 300 percent from last year and continuing to grow, according to Shopper Sciences’ research. Retail apps that encourage comparison pricing, bring up coupons, check inventory and enable digital payments are increasingly more commonplace and in fact are expected by those who keep up with the latest electronic trends.

Santa Goes Social

37 percent of shoppers are connected to or following a retail brand on a social networking site like Facebook, Google + or Twitter. The online social sphere is another that shoppers will turn to this year to score better deals.

The No. 1 reason for connecting with a brand on a social network is to get exclusive deals. Over half of the shoppers in the study (56 percent) say they connect to retailers in order to get special deals and discounts not available to the general public. Advanced notice on news was cited by just over one-third (34%), followed by 28 percent who want exclusive access to products not available in other channels and 25 percent who simply want to openly to share their fondness for a retailer with their social network.

Black Friday in a Digital World

Only 8 percent of respondents say they expect to be standing in line when the stores open on Black Friday, while another 15 percent expect to shop that day, though at a more reasonable hour.

50% of shoppers say they plan to skip the malls and big box stores all together the day after Thanksgiving.

Over one-third (34 percent) are planning to buy more gifts online this year. Among those who plan to spend $1,000 or more on gifts, 41 percent say they will buy more online this year compared to 29 percent who budget $500 or less. For the 40 and younger demographic, 40 percent say they plan to buy more online this year compared with 27 percent of those older than 50.

“Americans may be under pressure from the economy, but that doesn’t mean they want to endure a disappointing holiday,” said Ross. “Shoppers are looking to digital technologies more than ever to help them spend smarter, make their money go farther. Holiday 2011 won’t be easy, but for those retailers and brands willing to share, support and empower shoppers – rather than just sell to them – it has the opportunity to be a bright season.”

Access the full survey at http://www.shoppersciences.com/storage/Holiday%20Shopping%20Trends%20201...>


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