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Xmas in August: 48% of global shoppers “have already started their 2018 gift shopping”

The winter holiday season has already begun across the globe, with 48% of shoppers admitting that they have already started buying presents for the holidays.

The survey, from Rakuten Marketing was commissioned among more than 6,000 consumers in eight markets across America, Europe and APAC.

The survey found the fashion industry can expect a bumper second half to 2018, both in the UK and at a global level. 57% of UK shoppers are looking to make fashion purchases this holiday season, 6% above the global average.

Key findings:

  • Gift shopping is now a borderless activity, with Europe being the most popular choice for international customers (40%)

  • 66% of China-based shoppers keen to buy from Europe; and will spend 193% more on their partners than British consumers

  • Influencer marketing is an essential route to market in APAC: a fifth of Korean, a quarter of Singaporean and 30% of shoppers in China state that influencer videos provide the best deals

Gift shopping is now very much a borderless activity, with Europe being the most popular choice for international customers (40%). With 57% of Singapore-based shoppers looking to buy gifts from the US, and 66% of China-based shoppers keen to buy gifts from Europe, marketers in these regions must be acutely aware of the need to engage with audiences with distinct languages and channel preferences.

This is especially valuable when we know that consumers from these markets are looking to part with more money when gift buying. When purchasing for partners, Chinese shoppers will spend on average 193% more than their British counterparts.

By comparison, two-thirds (66%) of US gift shoppers are solely focused on buying from within the US. A behaviour also found among the over 65s globally (67%), perhaps suggesting ties to more cautious assumptions.

Dropping assumptions

Marketers must be wary of making assumptions about consumers or risk missing out on key sales opportunities altogether. For example, 52% of respondents in China focus their gift buying on Amazon Prime Day, nearly twice the proportion of US consumers capitalising on the early opportunity for discounted items.

In Europe more generally, Black Friday is also beginning to gain a following, with customers in France (24%) and Germany (26%) adopting the date into their holiday shopping plans – despite the fact few have adopted Cyber Monday quite yet (9% and 16% respectively).

Anthony Capano, Managing Director of Europe at Rakuten Marketing, comments

“Marketers must keep an open mind about when consumers will be looking to buy gifts as the reality doesn’t follow archetypes or publicised trends. It’s time to go beyond the traditional demographic understanding of your customers and uncover new opportunities.”

Looking more generally at how early holiday shopping begins, it is clear consumers in the US and Europe make slower progress on average than other markets, with three in five consumers yet to start shopping in July.

This is in comparison to their shopping counterparts in the APAC region who are much faster to progress – 80% of China-based respondents shared that they had at least started looking by July.

This all goes to show that marketers should drop assumptions about when consumers will be looking to buy gifts as the reality doesn’t follow archetypes or publicised trends.

Ways to reach your global gift shoppers

Influencer marketing may be subject to questions in western markets in terms of measuring ROI but it is an essential route to market in APAC. A fifth of Korean and a quarter of Singaporean shoppers state that influencer videos provide the best deals and this rises to as much as 30% in China.

By contrast, just 11% of UK-based shoppers say they would use YouTube and the influencer content posted there to spot the best deals. In the UK, influencers are best deployed as brand awareness tools; 25% of UK consumers will be using discount and voucher partners to pinpoint deals instead.

Adding another, harder measurement challenge for UK advertisers, 59% of global respondents stated they are planning to conduct their gift shopping in shopping centres. In European markets, nearly a quarter of French (23%) and German (21%) shoppers think the best deals they find will be on the high street. Where this variation exists, tracking campaigns across the entire user journey will be key – regardless of channel. This understanding will allow marketers to strengthen performance in order to provide a better customer experience overall both online and offline.

Capano adds, “Bearing in mind over two thirds of shoppers in the UK and US aren’t prepared to make on-the-spot decisions as far as buying gifts is concerned, the best ads will know where the customer is on their journey to purchase. Heightened demand so early in the year is an exciting prospect but figuring out whether products are being purchased as gifts, where in the world the demand is coming from and identifying the local nuances they should be aware of will be key for marketers looking to capitalise on gift shopping for success.”


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