It’s nearly Christmas! How are people shopping for the perfect gifts? We decided to chat to shoppers about their christmas shopping for 2015. We were interested in understanding how people are shopping for Christmas; how they’re doing their research, organising their ideas and deciding where, when, what and how to buy. Are they shopping online or offline and why? So we spoke with christmas shoppers and here’s what they told us.
Christmas Shopper Profiles
The people we spoke with fell into one of three broad categories:
They are driven and inspired by different factors and christmas shopping is a completely different experience for each of them. Let’s look a bit more closely…
Offline christmas shoppers
These people love and enjoy the experience of shopping for Christmas! For them, it’s an opportunity to share time with friends and family. They love walking round the shops and markets, taking in the atmosphere and being inspired by the window displays. They enjoy window-shopping and they love the christmas spirit that is present in the high-street.
Online christmas shoppers
Online christmas shoppers are more time and gifts focused. They want to find the perfect gift for their friends and family and they see buying it online as easier and more efficient, in their eyes it saves them time and hassle. Moreover, most of the online christmas shoppers live farther from a city centre and don’t have easy access to a large variety of shops. In general, they aren’t big fans of shopping in the high-street and much less during the christmas holiday season. Online they can avoid the crowded shops and long waiting lines. Convenience is key.
Online-offline christmas shoppers
Fifty-fifty christmas shoppers do their christmas shopping both online and in the high street. They are price and gifts focused and they will follow the best deal, whether this is online or offline – they have no preference.
Have they started their christmas shopping? How is it going so far?
When do you think people start and finish their christmas shopping? Most of the christmas shoppers we spoke with had already started their christmas present shopping, and many had bought most of their gifts already. Most people had begun to look for gift ideas and inspiration at least two months ago, in October. Some had even finished all of their shopping by the end of November!
Super organised shoppers confessed that they bought their first presents at the end of July/beginning of August. If you really want the ‘wow effect’ they said you need to start early.
For personalised and unique gifts, people would rather buy gifts far ahead or online.
“Everything looks so similar in the high street during Christmas.”
Even the late shoppers seem to have a christmas shopping strategy. They started looking for ideas around mid November and now they clearly have in mind what they want, even if they haven’t yet bought the gifts.
Where do christmas shoppers find inspiration for their gifts?
For Christmas lovers nothing can ever replace shopping in the high street. They feel excited and can’t wait for the christmas season to start! They enjoy christmas shopping with their friends and family, for them it’s an enjoyable experience.
They told us that they enjoy the atmosphere, the lights, the smell of mulled wine and cinnamon.
“Christmas shopping is fun, why would I stay at home on my own looking for presents online when I can do it with my friends?”
Those shoppers that love looking for christmas gifts in the high street, also seemed to be the ones without a clear idea of what to buy. They are driven by emotions and they look to be inspired by window displays. They describe christmas shopping as an ‘unmissable experience’ and they claim that it’s easier to find gift ideas in the high street than online.
“I love christmas markets! I haven’t decided what to buy yet, but I’m looking for something around… there are lots of christmas things.”
For the online christmas shoppers (particularly young people) their first port of call is Google to look for inspiration. Once they’ve decided what they want to buy, they search for the specific product on various shopping websites. Amazon and eBay are the most popular because of their good deals, short delivery times and competitive prices.
Shopping online also enables people to better ponder their choices, theirs is a more considered purchase.
“If you go into town you don’t have any guarantee you’ll find what you’re looking for, and it can be a waste of time.”
“I don’t want to spend money on presents that I don’t really want to buy.”
How do they choose the perfect gift online?
When browsing christmas gifts online, many people said they take screenshots of the products they might want to buy or take notes on their mobile about prices and details.
Others, simply open several tabs at the same time on their laptop, so they can easily compare products and prices.
“I just leave the product open on chrome, that’s how I remember what I’ve looked for before.”
They also explained that even if they haven’t decided whether to buy the product or not, they will add it to the basket of the website so that they can save the product and find it easily. In doing this, they have more time to think about it before before making the final decision. In effect, they’re using their basket as a shopping list to shortlist the things they like.
Reviews were also seen as a positive of shopping online. Reading other users comments and experiences helps shoppers to choose what to buy and what not to buy!
Sharing inspiration is also an activity carried out online. Social media is used for communicating and sharing gift ideas with friends and family.
“I send the link of the product to my sisters in messenger. We’re looking for a present for our mum, and through Facebook it’s easy to share our ideas with each other.”
The online shoppers said they don’t like packed, crowded and messy shops during christmas season. The chaos of the high street disorientates them and in the quietness of their home they can be more focused and more easily find the perfect gift for their friends and family.
…and the online-offline christmas shoppers?
For the online-offline christmas shoppers, the most important thing for them is finding the best deal!
They have a careful and methodical strategy. They move fluidly from searching presents online and in the high street, they compare prices both online and in store, they already have in mind most of the gifts they want to buy, but they are also open to appealing offers. These are our classic showroomers.
In a way, the online-offline shoppers summarise what all christmas shoppers have in common: they are all driven (some more than others) by price and convenience.
All of our shoppers said that price is very important; for some it is crucial, for others it is important but not that important that it prevents them from christmas shopping in the high street. Planning and budgeting is important. In this regard, lists are used to organise, control and manage christmas expenses.
“I plan what to buy, otherwise I’d spend a lot”
“I have a list of people, presents and prices…so I can control what I’ve spent so far”
Showrooming: The future of Christmas shopping
Our research supports that christmas shopping is moving in the direction of exploiting online and in-store shopping.
“Showrooming” appears to be the new way of shopping, not just at Christmas.
Using their mobile phones while shopping in high street shops, browsing and comparing products in store and online at the same time is an effective strategy to find the best price whilst directly experiencing the product and enjoying the christmas atmosphere that only shopping with friends in the high-street can bring without any stress or anxiety.
The shopping experience is becoming a more rounded experience, moving across offline and online spaces as determined by context and need. Our mobiles are now an extension of our shopping experience and it will be the responsibility of retailers offer their costumers a pleasant and enjoyable Christmas experience, that supports customers whether they’re shopping in-store, online or both.
If you want to know more about Showrooming and how to improve your costumer experience on mobile, read our post Mobile shopping to soar this Christmas