Let Holiday Commerce Commence: Criteo Research Reveals Earliest Ever Shopping Season With Millennials Taking the Reins

  • Consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier than ever, with 20 percent making purchases before November 1.
  • Millennials lead the early movement and rely on mobile for the holiday journey.
  • Holiday self-gifters create an opportunity for retailers to build long-term relationships with new customers.

New York – October 18, 2016 – Criteo (NASDAQ: CRTO), the performance marketing technology company, today announced its 2016 Holiday Initiative Summary Report. The analysis reveals key insights into consumer holiday shopping behaviors, the role and impact of digital advertising, and ecommerce trends to leverage in the upcoming months. The results of the report, conducted by Ipsos and commissioned by Criteo, show consumers are beginning the holiday shopping process earlier than ever and mobile-driven Millennials are a key retail target this year.

“The holiday season represents the pinnacle of ecommerce, with extremely high stakes but also tremendous opportunity,” said Elie Kanaan, Executive Vice President, Marketing at Criteo. “With consumers across the U.S. beginning their holiday shopping earlier than ever, the ecommerce landscape has the potential to reach record-breaking sales revenue this year. Those that strategically target Millennials will not only succeed during the holiday season, but will also reap benefits far beyond the new year.”

According to the research, consumer holiday shopping is creeping closer to the launch of Q4, with the majority of shoppers getting started well before the Black Friday deals begin. By November 1 of last year, 41 percent had already begun looking for ideas and inspiration for holiday gifts, 34 percent had begun their holiday shopping research, and 20 percent had made holiday gift purchases. Leading the early shoppers – and presenting a significant opportunity for retailers this season – is the millennial generation. Over one-fifth of Millennials (21 percent) had begun holiday shopping research before November 1 of last year, compared to only 18 percent of Gen X. Additionally, over a third (38 percent) of Millennials had already purchased holiday gifts before Black Friday.

For the 2016 holiday season, retailers must implement digital strategies as soon as possible, with a focus on mobile optimization and millennial shoppers. Consumers across the nation are eager to start purchasing earlier than ever and are looking to their mobile devices to do so. This trend presents a huge opportunity for online retailers and digital advertisers to take advantage of mobile and ecommerce capabilities, and reap significant rewards if the right strategies are in place.

Research Highlights:

Mobile Millennials Take Center Stage

Millennial shoppers are dominating the buyer landscape this holiday season and are a key target audience for retail and ecommerce. This generation is the most smartphone-centric of all the demographics and presents an opportunity for retailers to attract long-term, valuable customers. With most Millennials still entering the workforce, brands should work to draw their attention early on to sustain a strong and profitable relationship for years to come. Those who master the mobile-savvy millennial generation today will set themselves up for a future of success:

  • 37 percent of Millennials research products on a smartphone versus 18 percent on tablets — making the small screen the place to be for holiday shopping.
  • Millennials are giving “selfies” a new meaning with 83 percent reportedly purchasing gifts for themselves while holiday shopping for others.
  • 70 percent are open to considering new retail apps during the holidays that they haven’t used before, and 53 percent continue to purchase from these new apps throughout the rest of the year, providing the biggest long-term payoff potential of any generation.

Optimize For Mobile Or Miss Out On Revenue

Mobile will be the star of the show this holiday season, but not without high stakes. Retailers should take a careful, strategic and tactical approach to their mobile-centric marketing strategies in order to sustain a positive customer experience and ultimately avoid lost revenue. Today’s consumers live on mobile, so it’s crucial for retailers to know their smartphone preferences and ensure a frictionless mobile experience from find to buy:

  • 26 percent of shoppers considered purchasing through an app or mobile site, but did not convert to purchase during the holiday season.
  • Those who did not continue with their mobile purchase cited high costs and difficult navigation and functionality as the top reasons to terminate.
  • 50 percent of mobile shoppers report disliking push notifications and 47 percent dislike texts from brands during the holidays.

When Gifting Means Getting

While gift giving has long been a holiday tradition, another more selfish trend is on the rise — self-gifting. This presents an opportunity for retailers to foster deeper relationships with new shoppers and thereby cultivate their long-term customer base. With people shopping more than usual during this prime season, the retail brands that master the mobile experience stand a good chance of attracting — and retaining — a new audience beyond the holiday season:

  • Among holiday ecommerce shoppers, 75 percent researched gifts for themselves, and 69 percent purchased them on a mobile device.
  • 72 percent of consumers report using more retailer apps and sites more than usual during the holidays, and 67 percent consider online retailers they haven’t used before.
  • 47 percent of shoppers overall continued making purchases through retailers’ apps and mobile sites following the holidays.

With the right knowledge and tools on their side, retailers can successfully capitalize on the holiday season, as Millennials, self-gifters and other shoppers turn to their mobile devices for browsing and purchasing. For full insights on holiday shoppers’ digital preferences, download the complete 2016 Holiday Initiative Summary Report.