Cash-strapped, house-poor, expecting a double dip, American consumers are facing the holiday shopping season with some dread this year. According to a new survey by SteelHouse, which retargets shoppers based on shopping personalities as well as buying behaviors, 82% of us say we will change our shopping behaviors this season. Half of us will do comparison shopping more often and 62% say we will spend less overall.
But the key beneficiaries of our cash crunch is digital media. The study found that more than a third (36%) will spend more time shopping online than they will spend at the mall looking for gifts. But if retailers succeed in capturing that digital rush, they had best be ready with incentives. Among all consumers with children, 34% say they will no longer buy something unless it is discounted or comes with free shipping. In fact people with families are among the groups most driven to leverage digital tools. About one in five of this group will use social media to share discounts with others xsor find them for themselves. This compares to 12% of the general consuming population who say they will tap the social network for bargains.
SteelHouse’s study actually shows less social media influence than a recent Nielsen number in which 64% of parents use social media to learn about brands. In fact about half in Nielsen’s sample admit to being influenced by ads they see in the networks: 46% influenced by Web ads in social networks, 51% by ads that showed which of their friends liked the brand, and 48% by ads that appeared in their news feeds. By either SteelHouse’s or Nielsen’s measure, however, this seems to be the holiday when brands should be ramping up their social standing.
While there has been a lot of discussion of the luxury categories rebounding in ways that other have not, the research shows that economic woes will impact all shopping behaviors. SteelHouse finds that even in households making over $75,000, 13% will use coupons for the first time this holiday. And 36% of this group also will not buy items without discounts or free shipping. This is also the group slightly more likely than average to spend more time browsing for goods online than they will spend in stores. Ultimately, the affluent segment will make less of a change in overall spend (only 54% will spend less this year) but they will change how they shop.
Another interesting wrinkle in shopping patterns this year may surround loyalty points and rewards programs. More than one in five (22%) say this year they will redeem credit in these programs for gifts rather than pay cash or credit.
SteelHouse surveyed 1,000 adults with partner Synovate eNation between Aug. 22-24.