New Data Reveals Habits of The Holiday Shopper

SAN MATEO, Calif.Nov. 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ – Rakuten business units have teamed up to identify some of the key traits of holiday gift-buyers across the United States. The research – which examines the habits of millions of shoppers in the U.S. and worldwide – has been published to help marketing professionals better understand the behavioral patterns behind the annual holiday spending splurge.

Key highlights:

  • Most U.S. shoppers are looking for local and won’t impulse buy.
  • Smartphones are in and tablets are out when it comes to the hardware used to shop online.
  • Consumers are spending more money and making more purchases.
  • Retailer online advertising budgets and spend are also increasing year-on-year.
  • Savvy shoppers are looking to online influencers when they make their purchase decisions.

Rakuten Marketing has compiled A Guide to Reaching Global Consumers, based on survey results from thousands of consumers worldwide. The Guide reveals that, during the holiday season, 64% of U.S. consumers aren’t prepared to make on-the-spot decisions, and as many as 66% of U.S. shoppers focus on buying gifts from within the U.S.

The report also shows that American shoppers tend to buy slightly later in the year, due to Thanksgiving and well-known late-November calendar events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, versus early-November holidays, like Single’s Day and Click Frenzy, that are popular elsewhere. This said, the past several years have marked a notable shift towards earlier shopping in the U.S., as retailers release holiday discounts in advance of November’s peak shopping days.

The holiday season isn’t all about buying. It’s also about returning. Figures from Rakuten Super Logistics show that returns spike by 30-50% over the holiday period.

Year-on-Year Changes

Rakuten Marketing data has forecasted significant changes to the hardware consumers use to make their online purchasing decisions in 2018 – with many more making holiday purchases via smartphones. Far fewer are expected to make purchasing decisions on tablets, with a predicted 15% slump in conversions compared to 2017:

Year-on-Year Growth Forecast 2017-18

Hardware Conversions Revenue
Desktop 16% 19%
Smartphones 52% 65%
Tablet -15% -5%
Overall 27% 22%

These predictions come on the heels of notable trends in consumer shopping patterns from the 2016-2017 holiday retail season, across retail brands running display campaigns with Rakuten Marketing.

  • The amount of purchases made by consumers increased year-on-year by 17%.
  • Overall, total revenue also increased year-on-year by 24%.
  • In general, consumers were seen to increase how much they spend per purchase year-on-year.

    • Average order value increased by 4 percent on desktop, 12% on smartphones and 16% on tablet.

Additionally, the year-on-year spend on holiday display campaigns from 2016/17 signals an upward trend, as budgets are increasing and shifting to have an omnichannel approach to holiday marketing:

    • Total ad spend increased by 18% year-on-year
    • Retargeting spend increased by 13%
    • Social spend increased by 70%
    • Prospecting spend increased by 39%
    • Mobile spend increased by 13%

The power of influence

 ShopStyle, a Rakuten Company, is seeing significant growth in their influencer network driving retailer traffic and sales, including a 62% increase in the number of ShopStyle influencers that drive over $1M in sales to retailers this year. Influencer marketing is proven to be a valuable strategy for driving retail sales, with 94% of marketers believing their influencer programs are successful. This is driven by consumer trust, and influencer relatability, as people look to influencers whose styles they can relate to.

Consumer Preferences:

  • 63% of Gen Z want to see real people, not celebs, in ads.
  • 88% of women said influencers matter and their views are more important than friends/family.
  • Influencers representing size diversity convert at a 43% higher rate across all shopping categories.
  • Influencers representing age, color and size diversity covert at a 100% higher rate in beauty.

 Lastly, further data from Rakuten Marketing retail clients running display campaigns provides a strong indicator of when consumers buy particular products. According to figures, Black Friday is when Americans log on to buy toys but on Cyber Monday shoppers are more likely to buy clothes, jewelry and those holiday season gifts.

Interestingly, this data also shows that the day after Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) often performed better in conversions than Black Friday in 2017.

Black Friday surge (vs. Thanksgiving):

  1. Toys: 386% increase
  2. Jewelry: 283% increase
  3. Gifts: 113% increase
  4. Consumer electronics: 95% increase
  5. Department stores: 68% increase
  6. High-End/Luxury: 65% increase
  7. Beauty & Personal Care: 43% increase
  8. Apparel & Accessories: 140% increase

Cyber Monday surge (vs. Sunday):

  1. Beauty & Personal Care: 180% increase
  2. Toys: 117% increase
  3. Apparel & Accessories: 106% increase (and 38% higher than Black Friday)
  4. Consumer electronics: 100% increase
  5. Jewelry: 100% increase (21% higher than Black Friday)
  6. Gifts: 64% increase (and 116% higher than Black Friday)
  7. Department stores: 32% increase

Giving Tuesday: Nov. 28, 2017:

  • Beauty & Personal Care: 43% increase over Thanksgiving and 106% increase over Black Friday
  • Apparel & Accessories: 30% increase over Black Friday.
  • Consumer Electronics: Outperformed Black Friday
  • Department stores: 2 percent higher than Cyber Monday. Highest day out of all the other big selling days.
  • Gifts: 77% increase over Black Friday.
  • Jewelry: 3 percent increase over Black Friday

“Knowing the habits and cadence of shoppers is critical to effective, personalized marketing, which is core to getting that ‘purchase now’ button clicked.  This focus allows retailers to understand intent, so they can target, and also re-target, the right person, on the right device, at the right moment to drive a sale,” said Paris Loesch, General Manager of the Americas, Enterprise. “Mobile is still maturing, and will set another record for purchasing this year. Optimizing for each shopper, and knowing their hand-held shopping habits, and the online-to-offline and in-store behaviors impacted by mobile, will be critical to delivering results for 2018. In short, winning mobile may mean winning it all in 2018!”

Further holiday shopping insights from Rakuten Marketing, Rakuten ShopStyle, Rakuten Super Logistics, Rakuten Viki and were shared in a joint webinar, which can be viewed here:

Rakuten Marketing data trends and predictions are based on shopping behaviors across millions of consumers who visit the sites of its retail clients running display campaigns.

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