Horizon Media Research Finds that October Holiday Shopping Habits are a Good Indicator of the Remainder of the Shopping Season

How much consumers will spend - and what they'll spend on - is often decided at the outset of their purchase process

Nov 18, 2015, 14:31 ET from Horizon Media, Inc.

NEW YORK, Nov. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Horizon Media, the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world, found that consumers' shopping behaviors early in the holiday season reveal how they'll finish out their gift-buying for the year.

The research, conducted during the agency's annual Holiday Shopping Pulse over the past three years, shows that despite not having finished their shopping, consumers have a good gauge of how much they'll spend early on. Last year, 58% of respondents said they'd spend under $500 in total, while 42% said they'd spend $500 or more – and after the holidays, those numbers stayed consistent; 53% reported that they had kept their spending below $500 and the remaining 47% had spent $500 plus on gifts. The 2013 Holiday Pulse showed the same consistency; in October 39% of consumers said they'd spend more than $500, and in the end 40% did just that. With the third annual Pulse this year, so far consumers are set to spend slightly less: 63% anticipate keeping their spending under $500, meaning we'll likely see minor decreases in spending at the end of the 2015 season.

How they do their shopping is established at the beginning as well. This year, 61% say they will do the majority of their holiday shopping online, falling right in line with 2014's prediction of 56% in October, with 58% reported doing so after the season ended. Across both 2014 and 2013, consumers said they made 2 in 10 of their holiday purchases on a mobile device, both in October and in January. This year, we'll likely see that number up a bit once the season has ended: currently, consumers say they'll be using mobile devices for 23% of their purchases – including some (1.5%) on Smart Watches.

Resources used to garner information about what to buy haven't changed: Amazon holds the top spot across all three years – with 65% using it in October 2013, 63% confirming their usage in January 2014, 60% in October 2014, and 57% to finish it out this January. This October, 63% still report it as their number one resource. The same pattern applies for the other top resources: 4 in 10 turn to friends and family, 4 in 10 consult store websites, and 3 in 10 use search engines online consistently all three years.

When it comes to making their purchases, all-in-one store and websites are far and away the winner this year with over 9 in 10 consumers saying they'll shop them. This is quite an increase from last year, where under 7 in 10 said the same. Clothing (92%), electronic (73%), and department stores (69%) are all still among the other most shopped for holiday gifts, consistent with 2014.  The top four remained unchanged from October through January in 2014, and we anticipate the same for the 2015 shopping season. So far this year, 19% plan to do some of their shopping through social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.), an interesting and increasing new avenue to buy from.

Holiday shoppers stick to their plans, routines and resources, says Sheri Roder, Chief of The WHY Group at Horizon Media. "As we've observed over the past two holiday seasons, consumers' habits are formed as soon as they begin their search for gifts. What we've been seeing so far at this stage in the shopping season leads us to believe people will be staying the course this year as well. Brands and marketers would be wise to get the word out as early as possible on their products in order to fit into the plans shoppers lay out. While shoppers will most likely keep to their process throughout the season, there is opportunity to get in at the beginning to change the course of a consumer's purchasing and push their dollars in your direction. There are always going to be 'last minute Larry's'—those people who do the bulk of their shopping on the 23rd and 24th—but they are more the exception than the rule."

And the more comfortable shoppers feel financially, the more likely they'll be to spend: in 2014 58% of those who felt they were in a better financial situation than last year spent over $500 on holiday gifts, vs. 44% of those who felt the same and 41% of those who felt worse off than 2013. So far this year, the pattern is holding steady, though expected spend is down slightly – 45% of those who feel better off than 2014 plan to spend $500+, while 39% who feel the same do, and 26% who feel worse off do.

While consumers' feelings about their financial security stays consistent across each year's holiday shopping season, this year has brought slightly more positivity: 22% say they feel in a better place. This bodes well for following last year's pattern, where at the beginning of the season 23% said they felt they were in a better place, and 25% agreed after the 2014 season ended. The past two years have seen a slight increase from the 2013 Holiday Pulse, where just under 2 in 10 agreed. As more evidence, there is optimism when looking ahead: around 4 in 10 say 2016 will be a better year than 2015, which may have an impact on how much they'll spend in the current holiday season.

About Horizon Media
Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. Horizon Media was chosen as 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek as well as by Ad Age and as one of the world's ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year. Most recently, in 2014, Bill Koenigsberg was named 4As Chair of the Board and is the first person from a media agency to hold this prestigious position in the 100 year history of the 4As, the marketing industry's leading trade association.

The company's mission is "To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere." By delivering on this mission through a holistic approach to brand marketing, Horizon Media has become one of the largest and fastest-growing media agencies in the industry, with estimated billings of over $6.3 billion and over 1,200 employees.

The company is also a founding member of Columbus Media International, a multi-national partnership of independent media agencies. For more information, please visit horizonmedia.com.

Horizon Media
Kaya Lobaczewski
(212) 220-2102 


SOURCE Horizon Media, Inc.