Christmas Shopping and Online Search

November 28th, 2013 in Content Marketing 3 minute read

With the shops full of Christmas gifts and gift guides appearing everywhere, this year’s Christmas shopping period is in full swing. A recent article published by Google looked into how online search influences Christmas shopping habits and to what extent consumers are researching and shopping across channels this year.

I think you’ll agree when I say that most of us use the internet to research potential Christmas presents, and get ideas on what to buy for friends and family. A study conducted by Millward Brown Digital found that people using the internet to search for gifts were one and a half times more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t do any prior research. The festive period provides marketers with a valuable audience and opportunity to market their products.

The research found that the internet is not surprisingly, the number one resource for Christmas shopping. It’s used twice as much as TV or browsing traditional gift catalogues. 95% of millennial consumers (those aged 18-34) plan to use the internet as their Christmas shopping resource this year. Google also found that shoppers are starting their shopping even earlier than last year!

Four out of five shoppers go as far as to consider the internet to be the ‘single most useful resource’ for Christmas shopping. We’ve all been there before, in a shop in a state of complete panic trying to find gifts for loved ones or a last minute secret Santa gift wishing we had an idea of what to get. Three out of four people surveyed said online research influenced both the brands that they bought and also where they made their purchases.

As consumers we are cross-channel shopping more than ever before, with a 17% increase in Christmas shopping on smartphones compared to last year. Half of those surveyed said they will research on their phones and then go into the shop to purchase. This is just one example of the Zero Moment of Truth in practice. You can read more about the Zero Moment of Truth in this blog post.

Research carried out by Forrester estimated that over 50% of annual retail sales will be influenced in some way by digital by the year 2017. Interestingly, Google noted that people who spent longer on online search actually spent more money than those who didn’t use search. Good news for us marketers, people who shop online are shopping more than those people who just go into the shops to do their Christmas shopping. If you can find the right opportunities to get content across to the people who are researching online, to engage and interact with them you can influence these shoppers and their buying decisions.

Some people know exactly what they are searching for when they begin looking for Christmas presents, these consumers might use online search to find the best deal for the product they want to buy. Others have no idea what they are looking for. Google found that over one month, a quarter of people surveyed used general category terms to search online. You should be targeting content towards these people!

If someone asks their parents for computer game, the first thing they might do is search using a general phrase such as ‘popular computer games’ and then narrow their search down. After compiling a short list they might move onto online reviews or post on social media asking other people for a recommendation. These are all steps in their buying model, from search to purchase they are researching and reading and watching content all the way through their journey. Here at Zeal we produce content for each step of the consumer journey. If you want to find out more about our Content Marketing services please get in touch, we would love to talk to you.


[1] Google Internal Data
[2] Google Think Insights, “Beat the Holiday Rush: Three Strategies for Getting Ahead”
[3] Google Think Insights, “Getting to Know Your 2013 Holiday Customers”
[4] Forrester Research, Online Retail Forecast 2012 to 2017, February, 2013

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