What Do Most of Us Really Want For Christmas? Hint: No Shopping is Required

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NEW YORK (ADOTAS) — As retailers prepare to move into high gear with the promotions and events that will kick-off the holiday shopping season, it might come as a surprise to many eager shoppers to learn what the single most desired gift is on most people’s wish list.  Recent findings from the DDB Life Style Study® indicate that from a long list of choices – including jewelry, apparel, accessories, appliances, electronics, and experiences – the single thing that adults want more than anything else is money.  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, and are, in many ways, tantamount to cash. This begs the question:  Why is everybody so focused on shopping for gifts when we could all just open up our wallets and make most of our gift recipients quite happy?


“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.”

The reluctance to give cash on the part of many gift-givers bodes well for merchants at brick and mortar and online stores across the US as people undertake the process of finding that perfect gift for the people on their list. DDB’s Life Style Survey data indicates that 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.  Not surprisingly, 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.

Another surprising finding from the Survey is when people actually prefer to do the bulk of their holiday shopping. While retailers are focused on the sales tallies surrounding Thanksgiving weekend, 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, while 10% indicate they will likely spend more, and 43% indicate they will probably spend about the same this year as they did last year.

If prices were the same, an equal number of people would prefer to do the majority of their shopping in stores (48%) versus online (46%), and surprisingly, this holds true when comparing gender and generations.

As for when the best deals can be found on holiday gifts, 57% of adults believe they can be found on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, whereas 43% believe the longer you wait to do your holiday shopping, the better the deals will be. Boomers are significantly more likely than Millennials to believe that the best deals can be found by waiting to do your shopping (55% v 35%).

Everybody uses coupons when looking for deals on merchandise that they purchase in stores, whether it is coupons printed on their computer (70% do this), clipped from the newspaper or inserts (74% do this), or available in the store (83% use these).  73% of people say they use loyalty rewards or points from retailers when looking for the best deal on their in-store purchases.

When looking for online shopping deals, Millennials are ahead of Boomers in using sites such as Groupon (41% v 30%) or Living Social (32% v 16%) for promotions or coupons, whereas Boomers are more likely to look for deals directly on retailer websites (77% v. 67%).

We asked people whether they would opt for a less well-known brand that offers better savings on a gift, or instead stick to choosing well-known brands as gifts, even if they cost more. While 61% of Adults say they would select a lesser-known brand to save some money, there is a significant generational difference at play here. 45% of Millennials would stick to a well-known brand when selecting a gift (versus 37%) of Boomers, while 63% of Boomers would opt for the less well-known brand to secure savings (versus 55% of Millennials).

A similar generational difference is apparent when considering the types of gifts that people tend to purchase for others.  While 71% of Boomers try to buy gifts that are practical or useful, only 56% of Millennials approach gift selection in this way.  44% of Millennials opt to purchase gifts that will be fun or entertaining, while only 29% of Boomers share this approach.

In addition to buying gifts that are fun, Millennials are also more likely to use their holiday shopping time to purchase gifts for themselves.  26% of Millennials (versus 9% of Boomers) admit that they end up buying multiple things for themselves as they are shopping for others, which suggests a “one for them/one for you” type of incentive might yield good results against this group of shoppers.

DDB asked consumers where they prefer to shop for gifts of various types – in a store, online or through catalogs – across a range of product types. Not surprisingly, stores are the overwhelming choice for things like apparel, electronics and accessories, while online is the preferred place to shop when it comes to books, DVDs and music. However, it is worth noting that while Millennials share the Boomer preference for stores for most categories of gifts, a significant number are more likely than Boomers to indicate they prefer shopping online for many items including handbags, jewelry, phones and even gift cards.

Finally, once all the gifts are purchased, there is always the task of wrapping them up. 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.

About the DDB Life Style Study®

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,

About DDB

DDB Worldwide (www.ddb.com) is one of the world’s largest and most awarded advertising and marketing networks. In 2012 DDB was named Advertising Network of the Year by Campaign, as well as Agency of the Year and Digital Agency of the Year by Strategy magazine. At the prestigious 2013 Cannes International Festival of Creativity, DDB won 93 Lions, the most ever for the network. In addition, The Gunn Report has listed DDB as one of the Top 3 Global Networks for the last 12 years. The agency’s clients include Volkswagen, McDonald’s, Unilever, Mars, Johnson & Johnson, and Exxon Mobil, among others.

Founded in 1949, DDB is part of the Omnicom Group (NYSE) and consists of more than 200 offices in over 90 countries with its flagship office in New York, NY.

About Omnicom Group Inc.

Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE-OMC) is a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing, public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.

For further information on Omnicom and its brands, please visit www.omnicomgroup.com

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