As part of this year’s forecasting work, Adobe Digital Index is supplementing the new 2013 Online Shopping Forecast with additional details on what U.S. consumers are thinking—and doing—as they spend their dollars this holiday season.
Based on a survey of 400 U.S. consumers that shop online, we expect to see three trends emerge this season:
1. In-store price checking (commonly referred to as showrooming) will become the norm. Thirty-five percent of 18- to 34-year-olds (those with highest smartphone penetration today) already leverage mobile to compare prices while in store, well above the 22% average.
2. Apps tailored to holiday shopping will see an upsurge. While only 36% of U.S. online consumers today are likely to download an app tailored specifically for the holidays, 50% of 18- to 34-year-olds say they are likely to do so.
3. Social media will continue to expand as an influencer of holiday purchases as well as of shopping all year round. U.S. online consumers overwhelmingly expect to turn to Facebook most often for help in their holiday shopping. Sixty-two percent say they anticipate doing so, and that rises to 73% for 18- to 34-year-olds.
Changes in consumer shopping behavior will mean more frenetic, distracted shoppers. While the winning offer will most likely focus on price, retailers can drive sales during this short holiday season in other ways. Retailers should deliver highly personalized marketing offers to get consumers’ attention. Geofencing—-the ability to target shoppers with special deals based on their GPS locations—will be one way to stand out. Also, retailers that understand the value of social will be able to drive more sales. Rather than just looking at the direct attribution of social, retailers need to understand the role of social in the purchasing journey.
Here are some other observations on what we can expect this holiday shopping season:
Timing Is Everything
Consumers say they plan to start their shopping early this year—some 26% say they began holiday shopping before Nov. 1. And just in case you needed proof that things will be a little crazy on Black Friday, 19% report planning to start on Black Friday itself.
Continued Shift To Online
Given the shift to online spending, the mall parking lot might be less crowded this year. Some 30% of U.S. online consumers report they plan to increase their online spend this year, compared to only 16% planning to increase their overall holiday spending.
Mobile Devices Are A Bargain Hunter’s Weapon
The data also demonstrates how mobile devices are key in the hunt for bargains. Our research demonstrates that showrooming is alive and well. But that is just the start. Beyond using mobile devices to simply compare prices while in a retailer’s store, 39% of U.S. online consumers report having shopped online while in a physical store (for example, as they wait in the checkout line). Consumers are literally shopping online and offline at the same time. And the retailer with the best price wins in that moment of truth.
Price Drives The Move Online This Season
Adobe research points to a big reason why online continues to shine. Cost-conscious consumers are looking for bargains and see online as the best source for these. Sixty-one percent of online consumers in the survey cited lower prices/good deals as the most important reason for shopping online, followed closely by the lure of free shipping (51%). Price topped variety, availability, and convenience. Consumers used to see big box chain stores as synonymous with lowest price, but now online is just one big box.
Young Consumers Predict Future Shopping Trends
Of course, this holiday’s razor focus on price won’t necessarily last. While price might become less of a focus as the economy improves, the sway of mobile and social are here to stay. Younger consumers lead the way today, and their behavior represents what tomorrow’s mainstream consumer will look like. They will aggressively leverage mobile and social during the holidays and year round.
What are your plans this holiday shopping season? Are you planning to start spending early, use social more and comparison shop while being in a retail store? Let us know.
About Adobe Digital Insights
Adobe Digital Insights publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from more than 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising.
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