2015 Holiday Trends – Shopping Moments Are Replacing Shopping Marathons

If the idea of shopping on your phone while waiting for your morning coffee sounds familiar, you’re not alone. This holiday season, shopping moments will replace shopping marathons. Rather than rely on day-long mall marathons Black Friday weekend, shoppers are now turning to their mobile phones at hundreds of micro-moments throughout the day, all season long. In fact, more than half (54%) of holiday shoppers say that they plan to shop on their smartphones in spare moments throughout the day like walking or commuting.1

As we head into this year’s holiday shopping season, we looked at how the rise of these shopping moments will impact retail trends. After analyzing Google data and working with Ipsos MediaCT to survey consumers on their holiday shopping intentions, today we’re sharing our predictions for the digital trends impacting this year’s biggest shopping season.

Big shopping days are becoming smaller
It used to be that people would plan their shopping marathons for days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Now, shopping happens in the moments between everything else in our lives. Last year, for example, we saw steady consumer shopping interest in “gifts and presents” all season long.2
Source: Google Data, Q4 2014, US
This type of shopping has led to shorter, more purposeful mobile shopping sessions. In fact, while shoppers now spend 7% less time in each mobile session, smartphones’ share of online shopping purchases have gone up 64% over the last year, and 30% of all online shopping purchases now happen on mobile phones.3

The time to start reaching these holiday shoppers is now. We found that 61% of shoppers will have already started researching their purchases before Thanksgiving weekend, up 17% from last year.4 While research starts early, the majority of purchasing will take place later into the holiday season.5 Why? There is no longer a sense of urgency since everyday is a shopping day.

Mobile will influence more purchases than ever before
Consumers are using their smartphones in all parts of the shopping process - from inspiration to research to purchasing. In fact, shopping-related searches on mobile have grown more than 120% year over year and are fast approaching those on desktop.6

In addition to a rise in mobile commerce, we’re also seeing a rise in mobile’s influence on local commerce. People are increasingly using their phones to research and buy products in stores. More than half (52%) of shoppers plan to use a smartphone for holiday shopping this year before they visit a store, and a whopping 82% of smartphone users will consult their phone while in a store.7 People are searching 37% more inside department stores than they were last year.8

And more people have the opportunity to tap and pay with their phones in stores this season, with new mobile payments platforms available. In fact, in a Google Consumer Survey we found that 40% of people say they are likely to use their smartphones to pay in stores this holiday season.9

While big sale days are becoming smaller, one day still stands out in shopping popularity for mobile. Sunday is consistently the most popular day for shopping on smartphones - on average, mobile shopping searches are 18% higher on Sundays than the rest of the week.10
Source: Google Data, Q3 2015, Global Shopping searches on mobile
as defined by clicks on Shopping Ads
The YouTube Gift Guide
People are also increasingly turning to YouTube to help them shop, looking for advice, inspiration, or product reviews. One in four shoppers (26%) say online videos are their go-to source for gift ideas, and 32% of shoppers say they plan to use online video more this year for holiday purchases.11 Additionally, people in the U.S. are spending nearly twice as much time watching fashion and apparel shopping videos this year over last.12

Unboxing videos have become a growing phenomenon, as people turn to YouTube to inform their purchase decisions. In 2015 alone, people in the U.S. have watched 60M hours of unboxing videos on YouTube, totalling 1.1B views.13 Our research shows YouTube has become an important part of the purchase process for consumer electronics - 57% of Consumer Electronics shoppers watch Consumer Electronics-related videos online prior to purchase.14

To help shoppers discover more of the latest and greatest products, we’ve partnered with popular YouTube creators to bring you Awesome Stuff Week: a series of week-long celebrations highlighting shoppable videos on YouTube. Tune in on Monday to watch our next set of shoppable videos focusing on “gadgets.”
As shopping decisions are being made quicker and consumers’ expectations are higher, marketers today need to think carefully about where customers are discovering, researching and ultimately purchasing their products. By understanding these patterns and by focusing on moments of intent - on both mobile and video - marketers will win customers this holiday season.

Posted by Matt Lawson, Director, Performance Ads Marketing

Google / Ipsos MediaCT, Consumer Holiday Intentions Study 2015; Shoppers defined as people who intend to shop this holiday season with smartphones. n=778
Google Data, October 2014–January 2015, United States. 
Google Analytics data, United States. Sept 2014 v. Sept 2015
Google / Ipsos MediaCT, Consumer Holiday Intentions Study 2015 Base: Holiday shoppers n=2004
Google / Ipsos MediaCT, Consumer Holiday Intentions Study 2015. Base: Holiday shoppers n=2004
Google Global search data Nov 2014-Oct 2015, as defined by searches that trigger Shopping ads
Google / Ipsos MediaCT, Consumer Holiday Intentions Study 2015
Aggregated anonymized internal Google data from a sample of US users that have turned on Location History. Queries were considered as being "from" a location if they occurred within one hour of a user visit to the department store. September 2015 vs. September 2014.
Google Consumer Survey, October 2015, n=500
10 Google search data, Global, Q3 2015, mobile shopping searches as defined by clicks on Shopping ads
11 Google / Ipsos MediaCT, Consumer Holiday Intentions Study 2015
12 YouTube data, Sep 2014 vs. Sep 2015, United States. Classification as a shopping video was based on public data such as headlines, titles, tags, etc and may not represent all apparel shopping videos on YouTube.
13 YouTube data, January–October 2015, U.S. Classification as a "haul" video was based on public data such as headlines, tags, etc., and may not account for every "haul” video available on YouTube.
14 Google Millward Brown CE Study, n=1,529 CE shoppers, January 2015. Correction, October 29, 2015: An earlier version of this post claimed 64% of CE shoppers watch videos on YouTube. We have updated the claim to 57% of CE shoppers watch CE-related videos online prior to purchase. 

Source: Inside AdWords