What’s Captifying The World: Unwrapping The Holiday Shopper—Searches For Holiday Gifts Begin 43 Days Earlier This Year, With Brand Loyalty At The Top Of Consumers’ Wish List
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What’s Captifying The World: Unwrapping The Holiday Shopper—Searches For Holiday Gifts Begin 43 Days Earlier This Year, With Brand Loyalty At The Top Of Consumers’ Wish List

It’s that time of year again—the holiday season. Last year, advertisers were rocked by falling consumer confidence triggered by another Covid-19 wave and challenges fulfilling orders due to global supply chain issues. This year is no mean feat as brands and consumers face rising inflation and the impending recession.

We took a look at some of the biggest search trends across the recent quarter, as well as data stretching back into last year, to unwrap how the pandemic and current financial climate are impacting search behavior as consumers prepare for the holiday season.

A jump-start on holiday shopping

Through analyzing billions of searches, we revealed that search intent for gifting started 43 days earlier this year than 2021 (mid June ‘22 vs end of July ‘21)—coupled with a 43.2% YoY search uplift for holiday gifting during September alone. Consumers are already considering which gifts to purchase and how much they can afford to spend, which means brands need to capitalize on the opportunity to get in front of these audiences right now.

Delivery and eCommerce searches are down 26.7% in Q3 this year vs 2021. Simultaneously, brick and mortar related searches (store locators, stores near me, etc.) are up 91.8% during the same period, suggesting that consumers who adopted eCommerce during the pandemic are ready to hit stores again. Brands should consider how this could impact their Black Friday vs Cyber Monday plans this year. 

Brand loyalty sits at the top of shoppers’ wish list

With a looming recession forcing consumers to adjust what they spend their money on and who they spend it with, loyalty is more important than ever for brands.

Our data shows that searches related to brand loyalty have surged by a whopping 406.6% YoY. While consumers have their go-to brands, maintaining loyalty for holiday shopping is largely driven by programs such as clubcards, rewards, loyalty points, etc. as shoppers look for additional ways to find the price that works for their budget. 

There has also been a greater focus on reviews and ratings of products, with a 108.7% YoY uplift—indicating that consumers are being more savvy with their purchases by shopping around, making less impulse buys and researching purchases to make more informed purchase decisions. 

Interestingly, searches for quality have decreased by 39.8% since 2021. This could suggest that shoppers are looking to assess the durability, condition and reliability of products in-person, but also that it’s not just enough for brands to offer a quality product, there are other factors in the buying process that have become equally as important for consumers.

Price is king as consumers tighten their purse strings

This year, retailers and brands face inventory pile ups as a result of ongoing supply chain issues and consumer spending slowing down due to the tightening of discretionary budgets. As a result, there will be deeper discounts this holiday season, with value for money at the forefront of advertisers’ marketing campaigns. Amazon, for example, announced for the first time that they’ll be holding a second Prime Day in the same year, 7 weeks ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to capitalize early on deal-hungry shoppers.

With value being prioritized like never before, unsurprisingly price has become one of the most important considerations for shoppers—with searches rising 59.1% YoY since 2021. Coupled with this, consumers are exploring ways to offset costs and seeking greater flexibility with their purchases, with a 238.2% search uplift around finance options (buy now, pay later, pay in 30 days) since January—despite surging interest rates hitting consumers globally.

Thrift thrives during a recession

With savvy shoppers keeping value front of mind and sustainability being a priority when evaluating where to shop and what to buy, thrift stores and second-hand/preloved products will surge in popularity during the economic downturn. This was apparent during the 2007-2009 recession.

There has been a 46.2% YoY increase in searches for eco-friendly or reusable products, as well as a 35% uplift for second-hand gifts—reinforcing that consumers are finding more mindful ways to shop for gifts this holiday season in light of increased focus on climate change.

‘Recession-resilient’ categories such a beauty see a decline in searches

Despite the current financial landscape, Captify saw categories such as Home & Garden and Toys experiencing increased YoY consumer search interest with a 32.2% and 2% uplift respectively (June-Sept ‘21 vs the same period in ‘22). This could be triggered by consumers’ continued priority on home improvements and family life following the pandemic. 

Interestingly, searches for Beauty & Fashion are down 29% YoY despite ‘the lipstick effect’. Consumers are also deprioritizing big-ticket items, with Tech & Gaming seeing a 25.3% search decrease YoY, as well as searches for Activities & Experiences (-15.3%). Brands across these categories should focus on driving brand loyalty, value for money and sustainability across their advertising messaging—not only to attract and retain existing customers, but to convert new ones.

The importance of real-time data for holiday buying/planning

While these insights provide a broad view of how consumer search behavior is evolving leading into the holiday season, consumer intent can and will continue to shift. The highest-performing brands will leverage dynamic data to keep a real-time pulse on changes in purchase habits and to understand emerging audience behaviors ahead of and during the holiday season. This data can be used to influence and adapt marketers’ holiday campaigns and spot opportunities to conquer competitors.

Get in touch to request a demo of Sense, Captify’s Search Intent Platform, where brands can discover critical consumer behaviors, insights and audiences to make better and more informed buying decisions.

*Data sourced from Captify’s global network from 06/01/21-09/28/22

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