2010 Holiday Trends and Forecast: Week Before Christmas

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2010 Holiday Trends and Forecast: Week Before Christmas

Posted by Christina Mannarino, Digital Research Manager


Well folks, so far holiday predictions have performed (relatively) as expected. The strong Thanksgiving-Cyber Monday period (+43% YoY sales) segued into a softer end to the Cyber Stretch—what comScore deemed a “Cyber Monday hangover,” bringing the final YoY growth for the period to +26%. Performance has since increased, though, with a great first week in December (+10%) and we’re now expecting a ramp up of last-minute shoppers.

As the next week approaches, shoppers will become heavily reliant on free/discounted and expedited shipping.  A comScore Holiday Survey tells us that 65% of shoppers are not finished, 33% due to a lack of money (either waiting for mid-December paycheck or cash is running low overall), 32% haven’t had free time and 11% are waiting for those last-minute deals.

comScore’s data from November 1–December 10 suggests consumer spending has increased YoY by approximately 12%—Performics predicted a 2010 holiday season increase of 15% and so far we are tracking right at . . . 15%. Cyber Monday was the first day in history where consumer spending online surpassed $1 billion in one day, but various sources anticipate at least a few more of these days before the holiday season truly ends—specifically, this past Monday and today, “Free Shipping Day” Friday.

The second Monday of December was coined “Green Monday” in 2007 by retailer eBay as it was historically the heaviest online shopping day of the year.  Looking at 2009, Green Monday was only the 5th highest sales day of the holiday season and it was the following day, Tuesday, that had the highest day of sales with $913 million.

Consumer Behaviors

Consumers are happier this year!

  • ForeSee survey results tell us that customer satisfaction from November 22–December 12 is slightly higher YoY (73.5 on a 100-point scale—up .3 points YoY).  The slight improvement indicates a positive trend because both expectations and satisfaction are rising together. Consumers rate their satisfaction on four points: site performance, navigation, price and product browsing
  • Shoppers’ satisfaction rating for week Dec. 6 to Dec. 12 averaged 73.6, up from 72.9 from the same time in 2009
  • While Cyber Monday was the heaviest shopping day in the Cyber Stretch weekend, shoppers gave e-retailers their lowest satisfaction scores on this day with a score of 73.1, equal in 2009

Gaming is the top segment for electronic holiday gifts:

  • According to the Giftmeister 2010 Holiday Gifting Trend Report, analyzing 20K customers in the past 30 days, video games and consoles are the number-one purchased item this year, but among women, cameras were at the top of the list
  • 2010 Top 5 Gifting Product Categories:
    Video Games and Game Consoles: 38%
    Smartphones: 16%
    Cameras: 12%
    MP3 Players: 10%
    E-Readers/Tablets: 4%

Holiday commercials as funny as Super Bowl commercials?

  • According to a Retail Advertising and Marketing Association survey, conducted by BIGresearch, Target (#1) took back the top spot from Wal-Mart (#2), and Macy’s (#3), using the celebrity appeal, jumped two spots to number three this year
  • When asked if these online ads motivated them to shop that retailer, 22.0% said yes and more than one-fourth (27.7%) said they already shop there. When it comes to specific holiday ads, 4 in 10 (42.3%) say coupons most influence their decision to shop at a particular store. Advertising inserts (24.3%) and word of mouth (23.3%) are other strong influencers when it comes to retailers’ holiday advertisements. Additionally, TV/Broadcast (22.0%) as a top influencer inched up in significance over direct mail (19.7%) this year, and nearly 5% (4.6%) say they are actually influenced by social media advertising

Retailer/B2C Behaviors

Mobile sales boom for eBay:

  • This past Sunday, December 12, eBay’s US mobile sales totaled $5 million—up 127% from the same day in 2009, also beating Cyber Monday’s mobile sales by 38%
  • Worldwide, mobile sales reached $13 million—up 165% YoY

AOL-owned MapQuest adds humor to holidays:

  • MapQuest adds humor to finding directions by adding a feature called “Santa Speak” where users will be told how they can navigate their reindeers and sleigh through traffic. A similar behavior can also be seen in Google Map and NORAD’s, “Santa Tracker.”

eBay leverages augmented reality for mobile, location-based deals:

  • Recently launched AR app lets users scan the area around them to find eBay Classified listings
  • “Classifieds is all about being local,” said Jack Sheu, director of marketing at eBay Classifieds.” “It’s about connecting people so they can transact what they want, where they want. “We are getting the word out about this via email campaigns to end users, landing pages, press pitches and fun mission videos.”

Visa distributes mobile location-based merchant offers for holiday shopping:

  • Targeting U.S. budget-conscious consumers, the iPhone app (partnered with Monitise plc) provides cardholders with access to more than 50 unique merchant offers, including Papa John’s, Holiday Inn and 24 Hour Fitness
  • “Partnering with Visa to distribute mobile coupons assists in driving foot traffic to merchant locations by utilizing location-based capabilities of device, which allows the cardholder to easily locate the nearest merchant location where they can redeem the offer” says senior business leader of global mobile products at Visa

Wal-Mart raising prices on toys? What?!

  • Bloomberg news reported on Wednesday that U.S. managers have been instructed to mark up an average of 1,800 types of toys per store in an effort to enable each store to have a better financial month. Wal-Mart, the biggest toy seller in the U.S., is competing with Target Corp., Toys “R” Us Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. for sales of playthings, which may advance as much as 3% this year, according to market researcher NPD Group Inc.
  • Price increases are due to impact of temporary discounts on products, including toys, that ended November 30

Agency/Marketer Considerations

Microsoft 7 unveiled a plentiful amount of enhancements this week—including Bing and mobile search apps (details provided by Media Post News):

  • The enhancements for iPhone and Android apps include Autosuggest, which refines restaurant and movie searches by making suggestions
  • Bing Vision allows searchers to use the camera phone to detect text in the viewfinder to initiate a search on the word that might appear on the product. If the object has a barcode, Bing will return product results. It will also search for a nearby business listing when pointing the camera and taking a photo of a landmark.
  • The mobile app lets users share their current location through Facebook, Foursquare or Windows Live Activity Stream. Bing has seen traction with apps returned in search queries, particularly in the area of entertainment. The vertical launched in June has had more than 55 million casual games played in the interface and a million audio streams from the function that allows searchers to play songs
  • OpenTable, now integrated into local search, allows people to book reservations from the restaurant details page in Bing. And when someone finds a location of interest, they can now get a 360-degree panoramic view from local search results. The feature requires Silverlight.

comScore tells us that Microsoft sites’ domestic core search market share grew to 11.8% in November—up from 11.5% in October. In November, Microsoft sites’ explicit core search volume grew by 31.3% YoY, down from 40.9% YoY growth in October. In the first 2 months of Q4, explicit searches grew 36% YoY versus 40.4% growth in Q3, the research firm said.

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