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Marketing's eHoliday results: Top takeaways in 2013

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The 2013 eHoliday results are in and we’re excited to share insights from retailers and consumers about the upcoming holiday season. Much like last year, more than half of U.S. consumers who are celebrating the winter holidays this year plan to do some portion of their shopping online. Conducted in partnership with Prosper Insights and Analytics, the survey found several trends that can help retailers put finishing touches on their holiday marketing and merchandising plans:

    • Consumer sentiment is wavering… U.S. consumers continue to be concerned about the state of the economy, with half indicating that this uncertainty will impact their holiday spending plans. These shoppers expect to spend less overall, shop for sales, comparison shop, and use coupons more often, among other measures. Almost three out of five women say that they focus more on what they need versus what they want, while half note that they have become more practical and realistic in their purchases. Retailer messages communicating value, quality and other key product attributes will resonate well with consumers looking to stretch their holiday budgets.
      • …But holiday shopping is off to an early start. More than 40 percent of holiday shoppers surveyed said they started their shopping in October or even earlier this year. Two-thirds of online holiday shoppers who started early did so to spread out their budget. Another half want to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping and the crowds that come later in the season. Many have attributed this to seeing prices and promotions earlier, with more than two out of five noting that these offers have been “too good to pass up.”
        • Online holiday shoppers expect to spend 20 percent more than other holiday shoppers… Online shoppers expect to spend a net average $884.55 on gifts, decorations, food and more this holiday season, compared with an average $737.95 among all holiday shoppers. And those who own smartphones and tablets will use them to research products, compare prices, look up retailer information, redeem coupons – and actually buy.
          • ...And “self-gifting” is on the list again. Online holiday shoppers anticipate spending an additional net average of $159.73 on themselves as well, so retailers shouldn’t hesitate to craft some marketing messages to appeal to this sentiment. The online “self-gifting” budget compares with $129 for all holiday shoppers.
            • Retailers are preparing with marketing plans and investments…
            • As we saw in the first part of the 2013 eHoliday retailer surveythis summer, retailers have been investing in many aspects of their digital retail business to be ready for the holiday season. In this update, 68 percent of retailers said they’re increasing their use of Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) for the holidays. Another one in five will also increase their use of SMS marketing compared with last year. Retailers should test PLAs to ensure they are competitive on the search results page before the Thanksgiving rush and test text messaging calls-to-action and offers to opt-in subscribers. …As well increasing inventory and staff. Seven in 10 retailers also noted that they expect to carry higher inventory levels this year, while another 18 percent are increasing access to inventory via drop-ship. Staffing is also top of mind for retailers: one quarter expect to increase in-store staff compared with last year, while one-third will increase staffing for their customer service operations.

   members can now download the full results of the 2013 eHoliday Pre-Holiday Study on the web site, as well as refer to the June retailer pre-holiday survey results which are included in the 2013 Holiday Strategy & Planning Guide. Watch for further holiday updates in the weeks ahead.