If you suspected that mobile devices would be one of the strongest influences on shoppers this holiday season, well, guess what? You’re spot on. The majority (64%) of smartphone shoppers use their phones to search for ideas about what to buy before heading into a store, according to an October report from Google. The company also found that consumers are using their phones as a discovery engine, finding new brands and products to buy along the way.
With the holidays just around the corner, we wanted to learn how U.S. consumers intend to shop for holiday gifts this year. Where does their customer journey begin and end? When are they browsing and when are they purchasing? What are the most sought after presents this year?
Based on a survey among 800 U.S. mobile consumers, here’s what we found out:
An early start to the season
It used to be that the holiday rush began right after Thanksgiving, starting with Black Friday and picking up speed on Cyber Monday. But in 2016, that’s no longer the case. We found that nearly half (45%) of consumers intend on starting their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving.
We also found that gadgets and apparel dominate in terms of gift types. Below are the top categories:
- Electronics (55%)
- Clothes (53%)
- Toys (45%)
- Home Goods (28%)
- Books (14%)
- Event Tickets (8%)
For brands looking to entice millennials to shop on mobile this season, free shipping is the top tactic (73%) for encouraging a holiday mobile transaction. Running sales/promotions (51%) came in second, followed by coupons (45%) and price matching (18%).
Apps are at the forefront
Even outside of the holiday season, apps are crushing it, taking up 86% of smartphone usage, according to eMarketer. So it’s no surprise that apps are taking a front-and-center position with holiday shoppers. With 1 in 3 (34%) millennial shoppers looking to dedicated apps for their holiday shopping this year, brands may find it useful to direct their ad dollars toward mobile shopping apps.
However, it’s essential to keep it highly relevant is important, so be sure to use the right targeting for your audience. After all, 57% of mobile consumers said they would make a mobile purchase from an ad if the product advertised to them was relevant.
From the phone to the store
Just because a consumer prefers to shop in-store every now and then doesn’t mean they don’t value mobile. In fact, 9 in 10 shoppers find having their mobile device with them while shopping in a store valuable. And with mobile in-store search up by over 30%, mobile devices are just as important a resource as in-store customer service experience and the ability to physically examine and compare products.
What are in-store shoppers using their mobile devices for? Nearly half of mobile shoppers (47%) find researching competitor prices to be the most useful mobile in-store activity. Then, 36% use their mobile devices to look up product reviews, while 30% of consumers we surveyed intend on using mobile to sign up and receive in-store discounts. Out of the group, 28% said they use their smartphones to take pictures for future reference.
3 takeaways for marketers
Mobile will be the ultimate shopping companion this holiday season, meaning we can most likely expect to see traffic increase among shopping apps. Here’s what you should keep top of mind as you plan your holiday campaigns:
- Relevance is key. No one likes an intrusive experience. Do your best to run creative campaigns that aren’t just pertinent to what their interests are, but are also engaging. Make sure your content is targeted (demographics, location, interests, etc.) toward an audience whose chances of transacting are likely.
- Adapt your content to mobile. A lot of brands think they can use the same desktop or TV ads for their mobile campaigns. But consumers interact with ads on mobile much differently than on any other medium. For instance, on mobile, it’s important to hook the users’ attention in the first 2-3 seconds, as they can scroll past or skip your ad the moment they don’t see value in it. Utilizing vertical video ads on mobile is something to also highly consider. Of course, such ads have their own set of creative best practices that differ from implementing the typical 16:9 format.
- Direct your attention to apps. According to eMarketer, this year, U.S. adults will spend 1 hour and 54 minutes a day using apps on their smartphones, 7 minutes more than in 2015. There’s a whole world of apps generating a ton of traffic outside of the Social Media category. Some of these apps fluctuate in and out of the Top 100 App Store rankings, depending on seasonality and what’s currently trending, so marketers may find it valuable to know which Shopping apps and those in other categories they should target this upcoming holiday season.
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