Holiday Shopping Study: 47% Say They’ll Spend Less, While 31% Wish For Something Green


ADOTAS — As retailers shift into high gear this week, launching Black Friday promotions and holiday advertising campaigns to turn online traffic into in-store foot traffic, are they really making the right investments for the season? According to recent findings from the DDB Life Style Study, this year almost half of consumers (47%) state they will probably spend less money on gifts than they did last year, while 10% say they will likely spend more and 43% say they will spend about the same amount.

The holiday season inspires many brands like H&M, Honda and Best Buy to explore new ways to reach consumers including video ads; just take a look at the humorous and now controversial Kmart Joe Boxer ad with half-suited men shaking their goodies while playing the hand bells. Best Buy also recently launched an ad campaign that features famous comedians like Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph reading revamped holiday stories in front of a warm, roaring fireplace.

While this does get people in a festive spirit, findings from DDB research concluded that 31 percent of respondents preferred to receive cash in lieu of gifts. So why the discrepancy and how are brands going to get people to open their wallets and shell out the cash for items that people don’t even want?

“Gift-giving is as much about the giver as it is about the recipient,” says Denise Delahorne, SVP/Group Strategy Director at DDB Worldwide. “People don’t like giving cash as much as they like getting it. Most of us want to feel happy about the gift we are giving and while there are those who consider giving cash as a last resort type of gift, many feel that giving money suggests you don’t care about the recipient.”

This perspective rings true for me because giving a gift to someone that demonstrates how well I know them as an individual speaks volumes. Even if they end up cashing it in with the gift receipt, I still feel like I’ve made the effort rather than being lazy and just handing over cash. But maybe I am a product of consumerism.

Here are some other key findings from the study:

  • 31% of US adults cite cash as the thing they are most hoping to receive as a holiday gift this year, followed by gift cards to a retailer, which 14% of adults would prefer.
  • 46% of people make a list of the things they want to purchase and then begin the process of shopping for those items, while 28% look through websites and catalogs for inspiration and 26% go to stores to see what inspires them.
  • Millennials are more likely to turn to websites and catalogs for inspiration (35% v 22% of Boomers), while 30% of Boomers tend to visit stores for gift-giving ideas.
  • Most people prefer to do their gift buying during the weeknights (28%) and weekends (26%) between Thanksgiving and Christmas rather than on Black Friday (17%), Cyber Monday (9%) and throughout Thanksgiving weekend (10%).
  • Nearly half the total sample of adults in the survey (47%) indicate they will probably spend less money on gifts this year than they did last year.

The DDB Life Style Study is the nation’s longest running and largest longitudinal study of attitudes and behaviors. Conducted annually since 1975, the sample is balanced to the US Census on gender, age and race. The Holiday data is from a survey that was fielded in October 2013 among 865 people.

Finally, once all the gifts are purchased, there is always the task of wrapping them. It seems most people like to purchase paper and do the wrapping themselves. However, men are, not surprisingly, more likely than women to say they look for every opportunity to have the store or others do the wrapping for them (32% versus 15%). This might be something for retailers to tout if they are looking for more men to patronize their stores with their holiday shopping dollars.


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