Allocadia, the leader in Marketing Performance Management (MPM), announced results of a new survey leading up to the 2020 holiday season, covering key topics related to consumers’ shopping plans, expectations and preferences. Findings from the survey of more than 1,000 Americans include a preference for online shopping during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a shift to more practical and essential gifts, and evolving expectations around diversity in holiday branding and advertising campaigns.
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A Move to Online Holiday Shopping
Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – signals the traditional start of the most active holiday shopping, but just under half (48%) of Americans say they will not be participating in Black Friday retail shopping this season. Shoppers’ attention has instead shifted online, as more people plan to participate in Cyber Monday (61%) than Black Friday (52%) this year. More than one-third (36%) of Americans say they conducted their holiday shopping in-store last year, while only 23% say they plan to do so in 2020. Some 44% of consumers are planning for online holiday shopping this year, versus 33% in 2019, and 33% also report that they shop online for both regular items and holiday items, an increase of 2% overall.
The findings also illustrate that women are not necessarily handling holiday shopping, despite what many people assume. Of those consumers who do plan to shop on Black Friday, more men (62%) plan to participate than women (42%), and more men than women (70% versus 54%) also plan to participate in Cyber Monday.
The prominence of online advertising continues to grow – now closely following traditional media in terms of holiday shopping influence – as consumers report that the top venues where they see ads for holiday deals include television (52%), Facebook (45%), YouTube (39%), and Instagram (28%). Some 57% of Americans plan to purchase gifts through social media from ads or marketplaces. Interestingly, more men (60%) plan to purchase gifts through social media channels and online ads or marketplaces, while only 26% of women plan to.
The confirmed shift from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce is due in part to consumers’ desire to avoid crowded stores and malls, maintain social distancing, and limit potential COVID-19 exposure. More than one-third (36%) of Americans report that they do not feel comfortable shopping in-store right now. Among those who do not feel comfortable shopping in-store, 41% are waiting until there is a COVID-19 vaccine, while 29% say they will feel comfortable in 2021.
When it comes to enticing people to shop in-store, an equal number of respondents say that a big sale (35%) and a COVID-19 vaccine (35%) would motivate them, while 79% would consider shopping in-store versus online to obtain a better sale price.
The End of Another Holiday Shopping Tradition
Many retailers have announced that they will not be opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day in 2020, and 48% of Americans report being happy about stores giving their employees a day off. However, 27% report being “bummed,” because they always shop on Thanksgiving Day, while 25% report being indifferent. Surprisingly, more men (40%) are bummed about stores being closed on Thanksgiving than women (14%).
Where Americans Will Shop
When it comes to the stores they prefer, more Americans plan to purchase their holiday gifts at big box stores rather than small businesses. Almost half (48%) of the respondents plan to purchase holiday gifts online via a big box store, and 41% say they will make gift purchases in-person at those same big box retailers. When it comes to supporting independent retail, 33% of respondents said they will purchase gifts at a small business in-person, and 32% of consumers say they will “shop small” online.
Primed to Shop…and Shop Early
Consumers are primed and ready to shop in 2020, and many are particularly keen to get on time the items that they want for gift-giving. Overall, 59% of Americans plan to shop sooner because of possible shipping delays or low inventory, likely based on their experience with pandemic-driven shipment issues.
Some 17% got a head start on their holiday shopping in September, while 21% of Americans plan to start their shopping in October, and 20% say they will start shopping in early November. Only 12% say they’ll start shopping on Black Friday. It seems that men are starting holiday shopping earlier than expected, as 20% started in September, 18% plan to start in October, and 16% say they will start in early November – while only 6% say they will shop in late December. Most women report planning to shop in October (23%) or early November (23%).
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Practical Gifts in 2020
The pandemic is also driving an increased interest in more practical, usable gifts, as more than half (52%) of Americans report they will focus holiday gift-giving on more essential items such as clothes, food and money. While 39% of consumers plan to purchase fun items, such as new tech gadgets and toys, 21% plan to give loved ones handmade or do-it-yourself gifts. Economic pain brought about by the pandemic is also evident, as 21% of those surveyed say they won’t purchase holiday gifts this year, 41% report having limited funds due to COVID-19, and 39% say they need to save money instead of buying gifts.
When it comes to choosing gifts, 45% of people say they “guess” at what they think the recipient might want, while 43% of consumers ask their intended gift recipients about their desired gifts.
In terms of gift budgets, there is no consensus regarding spending:
● 38% of Americans anticipate their 2020 holiday spending to be the same as last year
● 27% anticipate spending less than last year
● 26% of consumers anticipate spending more than they did in 2019
● Men plan to spend more this year than women (40% versus 13%)
In addition, consumers revealed new expectations around racial and gender diversity. Some 73% of Americans expect brands to incorporate more diversity in their holiday campaigns, with more men (76%) than women (65%) expecting brands to incorporate greater diversity in their holiday campaigns.
“Our survey data confirms that the shift to online shopping is in full swing. Marketers need to allocate even more budget to digital channels and test as many new digital offerings as possible to win consumers’ attention in a very noisy, competitive marketplace,” commented Julia Stead, chief marketing officer for Allocadia. “These changes to behavior – as well as new attitudes around practicality and diversity – mean that marketers should be paying close attention to budgeting techniques that optimize marketing spend while meeting consumers where, when and how they are inclined to buy, particularly in today’s uncertain times.”
Travel Trends in the COVID Era
Almost half (48%) of Americans report that they typically travel around the holidays, and of those who do, 70% say they plan to continue the tradition this year. Of the 30% who say they will not travel, 39% report worrying about contracting COVID-19.
A majority (79%) of Americans are still planning to exchange gifts with family and friends this holiday season, with 86% planning to do so in person – and, despite social distancing recommendations, 59% of Americans say they will attend in-person family get-togethers or parties this year. For those who decided to cancel their holiday travel plans this year, 58% plan to save the money, 33% plan to spend the money on more gifts, and 25% plan to donate the money to charity.
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