Four Insights Into Holiday Shoppers

November 21, 2013 Rusty Warner

The holiday shopping season is a busy time for consumers and marketers alike, as both groups have a variety of channels to consider throughout the entire shopping experience. No matter the medium, however, consumers want easy and consistent access to goods and services, based on highly personal preferences.

So, the question is: Do some channels matter more than others?

According to SDL, the answer is yes. SDL studied the shopping and purchasing behavior of more than 4,000 consumers to look at how they are interacting with brands during the holiday season.

With mobile and social media continuing to gain popularity, the study unveiled some interesting findings regarding consumers’ preferred channels—and more importantly, their thoughts on customer experience.

Here are a few of the more compelling results.

Regardless of channel, the majority of consumers care most about a brand’s ability to positively meet their needs, as 60% of global consumers said they are willing to pay more for a product if the brand delivers a positive customer experience. For US consumers, the total expands to nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents.

The holiday shopping season is a critical time for brands to provide a positive customer experience. Consumers across the globe shop when, where, and how they want—expecting that the experience remains the same whether they are on their desktops, on their smartphones, or in stores. Organizations that consistently deliver compelling and engaging experiences across media and geographies will be successful this holiday season.

Surprisingly, while mobile commerce technology continues to evolve, the majority of US consumers (64%) are not using a tablet or smartphone to purchase gifts any more than they did last year. However, mobile proves to be a valuable platform for research, as 45% of all respondents use mobile devices to conduct research.

The key for brands is to offer the ability to easily research products and services via a mobile device and to provide consumers with targeted mobile promotions that entice them to purchase. These touchpoints may ultimately drive people to a purchase, regardless of where it takes place.

Despite the increasing use by consumers, social media channels—specifically Pinterest and Twitter—are not where consumers are spending their time researching and learning about products. Only 2-3% of global shoppers used Pinterest and Twitter to learn about products in 2012 and 2013. Facebook and Google+ are the most popular channels for global shoppers to learn about products, but they’re only being used by 5% of respondents.

Social media needs to mature before brands can rely on them for buying decisions. In the meantime, social channels remain a quality tool for building loyalty.

While online sales are increasing, consumers still prefer brick and mortar stores. In fact, consumer preference increased from 51% to 53%.

Regardless of preference, retailers are realizing that a multichannel approach is most desirable to consumers, especially around the holidays. For example, brick and mortar retailers who integrate physical stores with online commerce channels make it possible for a customer to buy online, pick up at a store, order online, deliver to a home from a store, etc. This agility is a key factor in both keeping customers happy and growing sales.

In the end, no matter how consumers decide to purchase their gifts this holiday season, the purchasing experience is what matters most to them—and they are willing to pay more for it.

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