Brandspeak: 4 Lessons Learned From Consumer Holiday Shopping Behavior


Brandspeak Stacy DeBroff Influence Central

The following is a guest post by Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Influence Central:

Whether shoppers set out for the mall to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list or curl up with a laptop and a credit card—one thing remains clear: Consumers have arrived in the home-stretch of holiday shopping.

But regardless of their purchasing strategies, shoppers increasingly point to online reviews as influential. In fact, our Influence Central research revealed that 92% of women consumers consider online reviews important when making a purchase.

Shoppers—particularly last-minute ones—still feel the need to make the best purchases they can for friends and family. Checking e-commerce reviews arms consumers with the insights, product details and pricing information that allows them to shop with confidence, ensuring the gifts they give won’t be part of the post-holiday return frenzy.

To get a deeper understanding, Influence Central conducted an in-depth research study of more than 500 women consumers for their views on the role online reviews play along their purchasing journey. Our findings revealed that e-commerce reviews impact consumers’ purchasing decisions, figure significantly in the product discovery process, and have transformed consumer behavior.

Even when the holiday shopping season draws to a close, consumers will continue to rely on the authentic, first-person perspective found in e-commerce reviews—and they’ll continue to shape purchasing decisions into 2017.

Here’s a look at four lessons from the holiday shopping experience:

1. For Gift-Giving Success, Consumers Start at the Keyboard

Even during the hectic holiday season, consumers know the importance of doing their homework before making a purchase to ensure they get the full scoop on product features. Today, 89% of consumers say they conduct online research about specific products they have in mind to buy.

2. E-Commerce Reviews Jumpstart Online Sales

There’s something to be said for avoiding the crowds and spearheading holiday shopping from the comfort of home or a favorite coffee shop. Once consumers read an online review, 84% decide to buy the product online—vs. 16% who head for a brick-and-mortar store.

3. Mobile Devices Power On-the-Go Product Research

Even if shoppers spend an afternoon at the mall picking out holiday gifts, their online research doesn’t stop. In fact, 70% of consumers check online reviews of products on their mobile devices while shopping in-store. Why? To check if a better deal exists or to help solidify decision-making.

4. Discerning Shoppers Rely on Reviews for Smart Holiday Spends

Consumers increasingly prove smart and savvy—even when faced with a long holiday shopping list. When asked why they seek out online reviews for holiday shopping, 65% said they do so to get the best deal, 60% to ensure quality and 54% to help choose between similar products.

Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Influence Central, is a social media strategist, attorney and best-selling author. A frequent national and international speaker, she consults with brands on consumer and social media trends.