Commentary

Holiday Gift Searching Happens All Year Round

Holiday retail sales during November and December of 2016 increased 4% over 2015 to $658.3 billion, according to a report from the National Retail Federation. While this time period has traditionally been viewed as the most important for sales, consumers are increasingly purchasing holiday gifts throughout the 12 months of the year.

As summer winds down and the holiday season approaches, more consumers will begin looking online for gift inspiration if they haven’t been already. But retailers and brands alike need to know that by Thanksgiving, 49% of shoppers will have most of their shopping completed, according to Retail Dive.

So, how are these consumers finding gifts? According to a recent study we conducted of 2,000 consumers, social media proved to be a valuable resource for product discovery and, ultimately, purchases. Here is what else we discovered:

Consumers report social media will play a major role this holiday season

  • 61% rated Facebook as the platform they depended on most for holiday gift inspiration.
  • 55% chose social media platforms as their primary source for gift inspiration compared to 51% who chose retailer sites.
  • Over 76% of consumers find social media recommendations for gifts to be either important or extremely important. 
    • That might explain why over 57% have purchased a holiday gift after reading a product review on social media

A deeper understanding of the gift search timeline 

Holiday gift searching most often begins before the turkey is in the oven with 36% of consumers looking for gifts ahead of Thanksgiving, according to our survey. But, the only certainty during the holidays is that the path is never linear. 

  • Gift searching never stops for some, with 23% searching all year round.
  • Black Friday searchers are still going strong with 14% of consumers searching for holiday gifts the day after Thanksgiving
  • There are a few straggler/procrastinators who leave their search for the last minute with 5% starting to search during the week of Christmas

The most inspiring social platforms

We asked consumers to rank the platforms they depend on most for social media inspiration. Not surprisingly, Facebook with its 2 billion+ users rose to the top of the list.

1. Facebook (61%)

2. Pinterest (38%)

3. Instagram (23%)

4. Twitter (12%)

5. Snapchat (9%)

Social media was the most preferred source of inspiration, having ranked ahead of retailer sites. But brands and retailers should know timing during the holidays is everything. AddThis found Tuesdays between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. to be the best for Twitter, Wednesdays between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to be best for Facebook and Pinterest’s users prefer Tuesdays between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. during the holidays.

Quality means more than price for holiday shoppers

Sixty-three percent of consumers considered quality to be the most important holiday purchase factor. 

1. Quality (63%)

2. Price (57%)

3. Sentiment (32%)

4. Ease of purchase (31%)

5. Other (5%) 

Influencers at the holiday can be a gift to your bottom line.

Influencers can create engaging tutorials and inspiring recipes, and host seasonally relevant parties that are not only surprising but can help a brand stand out through their nostalgic storytelling and creativity. We have tracked historical data year after year and despite the clutter and noise of the holidays, time spent with influencer content goes up by 6%. We have also observed a 22% increase in engagements per post and a 13% increase in content views per post. 

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