Kelton's Annual Holiday Survey Report
Perspectives > Blog Post

Kelton's Annual Holiday Survey Report

November 3, 2016

Amanda Kantor

Don't miss the 2016 rendition of Kelton's Annual Holiday Survey Report, featuring detailed insights into what consumers want in a holiday shopping experience.

To download the PDF version of Kelton’s Annual Holiday Survey Report, click here.

‘Tis the Season to Be Stressed: holiday shopping can raise blood pressure faster than a honey ham.

  • Nearly every (95%) American plans to shop for a December holiday this year, with the top holidays being Christmas (89%, 218 million), Hanukah (8%, 20 million) and Kwanzaa (4%, 10 million).

Consumers reveal shopping for the holidays can actually make it more difficult to get into spirit of the season.

  • Over four in five (86%) Americans agree that holiday shopping is stressful.
  • In fact, three in five (60%) think it’s more stressful than shopping during any other time of year.
  • Half (50%) of Americans admit holiday shopping raises their anxiety levels, and nearly as many (46%) describe it as draining.
  • The days leading up to the holidays should be filled with excitement and joy, but over three in ten (31%) claim shopping makes embracing the spirit of the season more difficult.
  • With its ability to heighten stress levels, it’s no wonder nearly half (45%) of Americans don’t look forward to holiday shopping. Over one in three (35%) even dread it.

Millions of Americans are willing to just about ruin the holidays to get out of shopping.

  • Nearly one in four (23%) Americans admit they’d be willing to hire someone to do their holiday shopping for them.
  • And about one in ten would rather give up all of their holiday gifts (12%) or go on a diet over the holidays (8%), than do their holiday shopping this year.
  • In fact, 10 million parents would rather tell their child that Santa Claus doesn’t exist than do their holiday shopping.

The Stressed Shopper’s Journey: shoppers hit points of friction on their way to the holiday finish line.

  • Americans experience stress at each part of the process: before, during and after shopping:
    • Nearly one in three (32%) think the most stressful part is before the shopping even begins. During this preparation phase, Americans are most likely to run into trouble with deciding what to buy (44%), deciding how much to spend (26%), or deciding where to shop (12%).
    • The majority (57%) are most stressed during the shopping phase itself, with the biggest pain points being navigating crowds (27%), finding the right items (21%) or realizing how much money they’re actually spending (19%).
    • Over on in ten (11%) are most fired up during the cool-down. After shopping, Americans are most likely to stress over trusting that shipped gifts will arrive on time (27%), finding out what recipients think of gifts (25%), or returning gifts (22%).

In-laws and burnt turkeys enough to worry about.  As a brand, your gift to consumers will be making holiday shopping the easiest part of their season.  Below are some tips from our study:

Give Them the Best of Both Worlds: integrating in-store and mobile for an optimal experience

  • More Americans will be shopping for the holidays on their phone this year (34% v. 30% in 2015). But interestingly, more also plan to shop in store (79% vs. 75% in 2015).

There are different things that Americans love about the in-store and the mobile experience—the key is to find a way to give them both.

  • The top things Americans love about the in-store experience is the ability to touch products (63%), special sales (59%), and having a day out (31%).
  • Compared to last year, more Americans believe that shopping in-store is the most fun way to shop (48% vs. 43% in 2015).
  • At the same time, the top things they enjoy when it comes to the mobile shopping experience is that they can do it anytime (57%), it’s convenient (55%), and they can do it from anywhere (52%).
  • What’s more, Americans increasingly believe that shopping on mobile devices is the most efficient way to shop (27% vs. 23% in 2015).

A store should be the holiday shopper’s cheer leader, encouraging their success on the way to the finish line.

  • Americans are more likely to choose a store that has helpful staff ready to assist (33%).
  • But creating a delightful experience isn’t just about functionality—over one in five shoppers would rather go to a store that has festive holiday music (27%), beautiful holiday decorations (24%), or a free beverage cart with non-alcoholic drinks (22%).

Brands will need to support shoppers’ intent to use their smartphone as a tool to assist them in-store.

  • Compared to last year, more Americans plan to use their smartphone as a tool this holiday season to check out store hours (44% vs. 30%), get directions to stores (40% vs. 24%), take pictures of products (37% vs. 23%), or scan QR codes (29% vs. 20%).
  • Over one in five (21%) Americans would most want to receive and use coupons and discount codes via text message, as opposed to email (47%) or paper mail (32%).
  • About one in four Americans would download a mobile app this holiday season that alerts them about deals nearby (28%), compares the prices of items they’re interested in (26%), or monitors the price of an item and alerts them when the price drops (23%).

This holiday season, technology is put to better use integrating digital and real-life experiences than holding them in separate realms.

  • This December, one in five (20%) consumers say they’d take advantage of an in-store display with gift suggestions for different types of people, and over one in ten would use an in-store touchscreen kiosk that tells them what’s in stock (15%).
  • In contrast, features such as an online video that explains products (12%), or a 360 or virtual reality video of a store that lets consumers interact with items remotely (7%), are less popular.

Tap into their Social Lives: providing more ways to shop and save on social media

  • Nearly six in ten (58%) Americans will use social media for holiday shopping this year—more than in 2015 (54%).

It’s no wonder they’d like to use social media to make the shopping process easier—by being able to view personalized recommendations and make purchases. 

  • Six in ten (60%) Americans would like to learn about products personalized to their likes, preferences, browser history or purchase history on store websites. This personal touch is also appreciated on Facebook (37%), Instagram (22%), Twitter (22%), and Snapchat (15%).
  • Beyond learning about products, consumers would like to purchase products directly not only from a brand’s website (57%), but also from Facebook (12%), Instagram (7%), Twitter (7%), and Snapchat (6%).

Millennials show stronger preference for personalized product targeting, and for purchasing items via social media.

  • Over six in ten (63%) Millennials will use social media to shop this year, compared to 35% of non-Millennials.
  • More Millennials than non-Millennials want to learn about products personalized to their online behaviors on store websites (68% vs. 56%), Facebook (52% vs. 30%), Instagram (40% vs. 13%), Twitter (40% vs. 14%), and Snapchat (27% vs. 9%).
  • This holiday season, Millennials are less likely than non-Millennials (52% vs. 60%) to be interested in purchasing items from a brand’s website, but are more than twice as likely to be interested in purchasing items from Facebook (19% vs. 9%), Instagram (13% vs. 4%), Twitter (12% vs. 5%), or Snapchat (12% vs. 3%).

Fuel Their Spirit of Giving: supporting consumers’ generosity with CSR initiatives

  • Nearly one in five (18%) Americans would be more likely to do holiday shopping at a store that donates a portion of their purchases to charity—the same number (18%) that would be attracted to a store that offers layaway.
  • In fact, more than one in ten (13% or 31 million) would rather a portion of their holiday purchases be donated to a charitable cause than have discounts or rewards applied to their purchases.
  • 25 million (10%) Americans even say that making charitable donations this holiday season will help them destress.

Consumers have proved their willingness to give, and brands could use their top of mind causes to inspire CSR initiatives.

  • Three in ten (30%) Americans made a charitable donation during the holiday season last year (Q41L), with a majority of them (73%) making a monetary donation.
  • The top issues on Americans’ minds are terrorism (54%), healthcare (50%), and hunger and homelessness (49%).

Be on Their Side: being their best friend who shares ways to save, rather than the one they have to fight to find deals.

  • As we might imagine, Americans are more likely to shop at a store that gives rewards (41%), does price matching (39%), or sends them coupons or discounts (37%).
  • However, many Americans are just looking for transparency and a partner to help them notice when great deals are available. About one-quarter are more likely to shop at a store that notifies them when an item’s price drops (27%) or includes shipping fees in an item’s price (23%). 

Let them Lean on You: stocking up on the things they need to survive the holidays.

  • To reduce stress during this time of year, over one-quarter (26%) of Americans will eat more food, and about one in five will exercise more (20%), and drink more coffee (18%).
  • Many will take good care of themselves so they can be in a better state of mind to give to others, such as by shopping for themselves (14%), taking more vitamins or supplements (11%), or getting more spa treatments (7%).
  • Some admit they’ll be taking advantage of their favorite vices, such as sweets (18%), alcohol (18%), cigarettes (10%) and sleep aids (6%), to attempt to destress.

Shoppers would likely appreciate the suggestion to take a night off of hunting down gifts to enjoy their families.

  • Over six in ten (61%) consumers predict they’ll see at least one movie in theaters this holiday season. On average, Americans think they’ll see two movies.

Prepare for Procrastination: giving consumers the experience they desire even at the final hour.

  • Close to one in four (24%) Americans admit that needing to shop last minute adds to the stress of it all.
  • Despite the stress that comes with last-minute shopping, fewer than three in ten (29%) consumers predict they’ll give themselves a lot of time to get it all done.
  • In fact, over seven in ten (71%) admit they’ll likely still be shopping 2 days or less, prior to the holidays. And these last minute shoppers estimate they’ll purchase about a fifth (22%) of all of the gifts they give during this time.

Anything brands can do to expedite the holiday shopping process would be a welcome time-saver for consumers.

  • Close to one in five (19%) would use an app that searches for gifts based on the information provided about the recipient.
  • Over three in ten (31%) would rather shop at a store that has a free wrapping service. (Q62)
  • 34 million (14%) consumers would download an app that allowed them to order holiday-related items to their door in an hour or less.

Get Technical for Millennials: attracting younger generations with a start to finish experience that’s their speed.

Sending them a text with a discount code or a link to your app will get you in their line of vision and improve their shopping experience.

  • Millennials are more likely than non-Millennials to take advantage of a brand’s Pinterest page (15% vs. 8%), Instagram account (15% vs. 6%), or blog posts (15% vs. 6%), showcasing recommended items.
  • Millennials are more likely than non-Millennials to shop for and purchase holiday gifts via their smartphone (53% vs. 26%), and apps (36% vs. 22%).
  • They are more likely to believe using apps is the most fun (10% vs. 5%), efficient (19% vs. 9%) and inspiring (11% vs. 5%) way of shopping, and the best way to get deals (15% vs. 6%), out of any shopping method.
  • They’re more likely to prefer receiving and using discount codes via text message (28% vs. 18%).

Consider letting them to pay you like they pay their friends, using PayPal or Venmo.

  • When it comes to paying for items, it’s more convenient for Millennials to use a debit card (80%) than cash (73%). Credit card (66%) comes in at third most convenient.
  • Millennials rank PayPal (47%), a prepaid card (47%), a digital wallet (29%) and a retail app (22%) as more convenient than checks (18%).
  • Nearly one in five (18%) think mobile to mobile apps, such as Venmo, are the most convenient way of paying for items.

Amanda Kantor

Manager, Research & Strategy

As a Manager of Research and Strategy, Amanda works with the diverse Kelton team to optimize clients' branding and communications. Having worked on projects ranging...

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