An Early Look at 2016 Holiday Gift Shopping Trends

a Christmas gift

We all know people who start holiday gift shopping as soon as the kids go back to school. We all know people who make a mad dash to the mall on Christmas Eve. We all know people who wait on line in front of discount stores to take advantage of doorbuster deals on Black Friday. And we all know people buy everything online with their fuzzy slippers on and never leave the house.

But when do most people start their gift shopping? How much do Black Friday and other sales events impact shopping plans?

InfoScout conducted a survey of approximately 2,100 consumers over the weekend to answer these questions and see what factors are influencing shopping behavior.

How Much Holiday Gift Shopping Has Already Been Done?

More than seven in 10 consumers (72%) have started their holiday gift shopping. However, a larger percentage of shoppers have yet to start shopping compared to last year (28% vs. 21%). Also, shoppers were further along at this point in 2015 than they are this year.

The fact that people haven’t started shopping as early as they did last year could be due to the continued growth of Amazon and its fast, inexpensive shipping options for Prime members. In fact, a new study from Cowen & Co. reported in Barron’s estimates that Prime memberships have increased 23% to nearly 50 million since last year. People are more confident that gifts will arrive on time, and they don’t have to pay a fortune for fast shipping.

Also, the fast emergence of the Click and Collect option (buy online and pick up merchandise in the store) could be making it easier for shoppers to procrastinate. Click and Collect eliminates two major frustrations from the holiday shopping equation – long lines and shipping fees. As a result, 95% of those who used Click and Collect last year plan to do so again this year.

Is Black Friday Losing its Mojo?

Trends are pointing in that direction, especially if you consider that Black Friday is now part of a month-long (or more) sales push rather than a one-day event.

However, more people are taking advantage of pre-Black Friday sales, and fewer people are planning to shop Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. 36% of respondents are shopping pre-Black Friday sales this year, up from 31% last year, while 32% plan to shop on Saturday and Sunday, down from 37% last year. This would indicate that people know they can get most of the same deals before and after Thanksgiving weekend.

The continued dilution of Black Friday helps to explain why Super Saturday, the last Saturday before the Christmas weekend, continues to grow in terms of shopping trips and sales.

Online, In-store, or Both?

Overall, more shopping continues to move online. 42% of survey respondents plan to do most or all of their holiday gift shopping online in 2016, compared to 38% last year. 16% plan to do most or all of their holiday shopping in a physical store compared to 20% last year.

As for Black Friday in particular, more people plan to shop online (28%) than last year (25%), while fewer people plan to shop in stores (37%) than last year (41%). The gap was much wider for Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, as 27% plan to shop online compared to 19% in 2015, and 28% plan to shop in stores compared to 36% last year.

Using our proprietary apps that capture physical and digital receipt images of customer purchase data, InfoScout will be analyzing shopping behavior in near real-time this weekend, from Black Friday to Amazon to Click and Collect. Check back often as we publish these valuable insights!

InfoScout Debuts at #31 on Deloitte Technology Fast 500!

deloitte-technology-fast-500The InfoScout team is proud to announce another industry award: #31 on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ list! InfoScout earned a place on this prestigious list by growing revenues by 3,507% (!) over a three-year period. The full list of winners, along with their rankings, was revealed at an awards reception on November 15, 2016 in Silicon Valley. This is InfoScout’s first year on the list.

Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 provides a ranking of the fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies – both public and private – in North America. Technology Fast 500 award winners are selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2012 to 2015.

Predicting Election 2016: Hear from InfoScout’s CEO and other Market Research Leaders

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From our friends at Greenbook and The ARF:

Almost everyone failed to predict the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election, and the winner came as a shock to pollsters, the media, as well as people in the U.S. and around the world. How did we get it so wrong, and what does this mean for marketing and insights?

On November 29 we’ll explore this very topic in Predicting Election 2016: What Worked, What Didn’t and the Implications for Marketing & Insights, brought to you by The ARF and GreenBook. The event will take place from 8:30am to 11:00am Eastern time. The event is free for the ARF and GreenBook communities. You are welcome to attend in person or virtually.

During this event, we won’t rehash the polls or outcome of the election, but rather explore the implications of this polling failure for commercial research and analytics on the things that are important to our industry: trust in research (especially surveys!), new tools and techniques, predicting and modeling behavior or trends, implicit vs. explicit data sources, the application of cognitive and behavioral psychology, and more.

Hear from speakers like:

  • Tom Anderson – Founder, OdinText
  • Chris Bacon – EVP, Research & Innovation: Global Research, Quality & Innovation, The ARF
  • Rick Bruner – VP, Research & Analytics, Viant Inc.
  • Melanie Courtright – EVP, Global Client Services, Research Now
  • Lenny Murphy – Executive Editor & Producer, GreenBook
  • Dr. Aaron Reid – Founder & Chief Behavioral Scientist, Sentient Decision Science, Inc.
  • Jared Schrieber – Co-Founder & CEO, InfoScout
  • Taylor Schreiner – VP, Research, TubeMogul
  • Cliff Young – President, Ipsos Public Affairs

Register here for the event (virtual or in-person). We hope to see you there!

Unwrapping Halloween: Candy, Kids and Shopping Behavior

Assuming I can avoid the treats until halloween :) On another note... I have decided to rename what I do to "photoadayish" as that is more accurate haha.

When we go trick-or-treating with our children or grandchildren, each house has an overflowing bowl of candy, along with the occasional stickers, pencils and erasers. We make sure the kids say “trick-or-treat” and “thank you,” and we move on to the next house so the kids can add to their Halloween loot.

Of course, here at InfoScout, we see that giant bowl of candy and want to know the story behind it. We analyzed receipt images of purchase data captured by our proprietary mobile apps during Halloween shopping occasions throughout the month of October. We broke them down into two categories: early bird shoppers, who shopped October 1-15, and last minute shoppers, who shopped October 16-31. We also wanted to find out the impact of having kids on those shopping trips.

There was no significant difference between early bird and last minute shoppers in terms of demographics such as gender, ethnicity, generation, income or education level. We also noticed consistency in four key metrics:

  • Percentage of Households Buying One Brand: 39% for early bird, 43% for last minute
  • Average Number of Candy Units per Trip:1 for both early bird and last minute
  • Average Candy Spend per Trip: $5.04 for early bird, $5.75 for last minute
  • Average Basket Size: $53.93 for early bird, $53.05 for last minute

The small increase in candy spend per trip for last minute shoppers suggests that these customers didn’t have time to look for the best deals. They likely either had to buy whatever candy was available at stores where they were shopping for other things, or just take whatever candy was left, even if it was a little more expensive.

One obvious takeaway from these four metrics is that the money spent on candy only represents about 10% of total spend during these shopping trips. So what exactly are these Halloween shoppers buying?

Early Bird Halloween Shoppers

Looking across all early bird shoppers, we see the candy brands we are all familiar with being bought the most.

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Customer affinity was highest for the following product categories during early bird shopping trips:

  • Party Favors
  • Marshmallows
  • Stickers
  • Meat and Poultry
  • Snack Mixes
  • Indoor Decor
  • Writing Supply
  • Paper Tableware
  • Cake Toppings

High affinity for products such as party favors, meat and poultry, indoor décor and writing supplies would indicate that many early bird shoppers were planning to host a Halloween party, which would typically occur during the week before Halloween.

Last Minute Halloween Shoppers

M&M’s was the clear candy winner of the Halloween shopping season, finishing in first place by a relatively large margin among both early bird and last minute shoppers.

Customer affinity was highest for the following product categories during last minute shopping trips:

  • Party Favors
  • Bowls
  • Snack Mix
  • Diet Food/Drink
  • Paper Tableware
  • Plastic Containers
  • Straws
  • Cake Toppings
  • Boys/Girls Tops and Bottoms

Clearly, there is some overlap between products purchased by both early bird and last minute shoppers as many of these products are typically found in the same or nearby aisles during the weeks leading up to Halloween.

How Kids Impact Shopping Trips

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Interestingly, the amount spent on candy dropped when children were present, but the average basket ring increased across the board. This would indicate that parents shopping with kids may have tried to avoid candy aisles, but increased their purchases of other items.

M&M’s still rules the day, whether kids are present or not. The top candy brands continue to capitalize on their heritage and brand recognition. While Twix was introduced to American consumers in 1979, the other candy brands purchased most often during the Halloween season – M&M’s, Hershey, Snickers, Kit Kat and Reese’s – are at least 75 years old. All are owned by either Hershey or Mars.

Is false pessimism about the economy fueling support for Trump?

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Trump supporters are 44% more likely than Clinton supporters to claim that they’re paying significantly more for groceries over the last year. But in fact, they’re paying less.

This election season, it’s been widely reported that Trump supporters are much more likely than Clinton supporters to hold the opinion that the American economy is doing much worse this year than a year ago.  To understand this phenomenon, InfoScout decided to peel back the onion to better understand whether or not individual Trump supporters might actually be facing a different economic experience than their Clinton supporting counterparts.

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To perform this study, InfoScout surveyed nearly 2,000 consumers who have been using one of the company’s mobile apps (e.g., Shoparoo & Receipt Hog) to submit pictures of their receipts after every shopping trip for more than one year.   These consumers were asked a series of questions related to their views on social issues, the economy and especially their perception of price inflation versus one year ago.  Once a survey respondent’s economic perspective was captured, they were then asked whether or not they were planning to vote, and if so, which party they are affiliated with and which candidate they planned to support.   

For each of the 1,842 individual respondents who stated that they were planning to vote in Tuesday’s election, InfoScout identified purchases of the exact same grocery item in both the most recent three months ending October 31, 2016 and in the same three month period one year ago.  The prices paid for these identical items at the exact same stores (e.g., a 12.25oz box of Honey Nut Cheerios from Target) were then compared on a year-over-year basis.

The data clearly indicates that overall prices for the same items are down from a year ago and in fact are down slightly more for the Trump supporters studied due to geo-demographic attributes.  Taken by itself, this is not a very interesting or insightful finding, but when we combine these shopping behaviors with the attitudes expressed by these voters, the results are quite illuminating.

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Despite paying less for their groceries, 52% of Trump supporters surveyed believe they are paying more for their groceries now than they were a year ago.  By contrast, this number falls to 36% for supporters of Hillary Clinton.  This means that Trump supporters are 44% more likely than Clinton supporters to falsely believe that grocery prices are on the rise.  This false pessimism may be fueling their drive for a change of party in the White House – especially if Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is seen as a continuation of the current administration.  Perhaps more concerning for the Clinton campaign is that undecided voters appear just as likely as Trump supporters to incorrectly assert that they are paying more at checkout.  Clinton’s White House pursuit may very well depend on her ability to convince undecided voters that perhaps the economy isn’t so bad after all.

3 Reasons Why Brick-and-Mortar Owned Back-to-School Shopping

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Brick-and-mortar retail has been taking its lumps in recent years. Sales are down. Companies have filed for bankruptcy. Hundreds of stores are closing. Many predictors of doom and gloom have said Amazon is taking over the world and it’s just a matter of time before online shopping takes over and in-store shopping dies a slow death.

Of course, such predictions of the demise of brick-and-mortar retail are grossly exaggerated with little data to back them up. Case in point: back-to-school shopping.

InfoScout’s proprietary mobile apps captured physical and digital receipt images of customer purchase data from back-to-school shopping occasions. We also conducted a survey of 449 back-to-school shoppers to gain even deeper insights into shopper behaviors and motivations.

This data shows that the number of shopping trips for back-to-school supplies spikes in July and peaks in August. Brick-and-mortar retail stores are the primary beneficiaries of this bump – and it wasn’t even close.

In fact, three quarters of July and August shopping trips for back-to-school supplies went to the brick-and-mortar stores of mass retailers, compared to under 5% for online shopping channels. This is a huge win for in-store shopping during the back-to-school season.

So how did mass brick-and-mortar retailers score such a decisive victory when online supposedly had all of the momentum? Here’s what the data tells us.

1) It’s Not Just About School Supplies

70% of brick-and-mortar shoppers were looking for more than school supplies. They prefer to pick up back-to-school supplies as part of a larger shopping trip. This translated to trip dollars that were nearly 50% higher than online purchases.

2) Back-to-School Shoppers Sniff Out Deals

50% of in-store shoppers visited multiple retailers. When asked why, the top seven responses involved finding the best prices and deals. While online shoppers valued the convenience of shopping when they wanted (75%) and having products shipped directly to their homes (79%), in-store shoppers looked for the best prices and were willing to comparison shop to find them.

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3) Brick-and-Mortar Raised the Customer Experience Bar

When asked what they appreciated about the in-store shopping experience, shoppers pointed to the ability to shop for more than back-to-school items (58%) and low prices on back-to-school items (57%). Tax-free weekends were appreciated by 17% of respondents. But the experience wasn’t all about pricing and sales.

Having a dedicated, organized section for back-to-school supplies is a plus for 49% of in-store shoppers. 47% call out the selection and availability of school supplies, while 20% appreciate that the supply lists from specific schools are available in stores.

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Can Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Continue this Momentum into the Holidays?

The back-to-school shopping season demonstrates that brick-and-mortar retailers can win with low prices, dedicated back-to-school sections, effective merchandising, and well-stocked shelves. Can this approach be applied to the holiday season to slow or even stop sales losses to online channels?

For example, online channels offer the advantage of the infinite aisle. If a holiday shopper in the store is looking for a product that’s unavailable, will the retailer be willing to have that product shipped directly to the customer? While most retailers offer holiday sections for decorations, will they create special sections for gift categories, such as stocking stuffers?

Brick-and-mortar stores capitalized on the fact that back-to-school supply shopping is part of a larger shopping trip. What kinds of promotions or incentives can be offered to capitalize on this advantage during the holiday season and get more people into stores? Can stores that make  school supply lists available also support gift wish lists?

Clearly, doomsday predictions for brick-and-mortar retail stores are premature. Online can be beaten with the right combination of pricing, product availability, merchandising and marketing. The proof is in the data. Now it’s up to retailers to apply these techniques to the holiday season and beyond.

2016 Holiday Shopping Trends & Predictions, Part 2

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In the run-up to Black Friday, InfoScout’s team of researchers has been examining holiday shopping trends and has developed a number of predictions. Part 1 of our two-part blog series ran yesterday; today we share Part 2.

Our predictions for the 2016 holiday season include:

Any growth in year-over-year holiday sales will be won by Amazon – for all other retailers, the shopping season will be a zero-sum game.

Last year, the No. 1 “first stop” for Black Friday shoppers was Walmart — but running a close second was Amazon, as shoppers preferred to enjoy the leisure of shopping from home, rather than brave the crowds. InfoScout expects that trend to accelerate in 2016.

“Amazon’s share of holiday sales will grow by double digits again this year,” Schrieber said. “In fact, we expect Amazon to account for virtually all growth in retail sales, while others fight over their share of the rest of the pie.”

Voice products like Amazon Echo will have a breakthrough holiday season.

InfoScout predicts 2016 will be the Year of Voice for holiday shoppers, as products like Amazon Echo, Google Home and others in the “smart speaker” category gain awareness and rapid adoption.

“Last year was a huge win for the Amazon Fire, which dethroned the iPad as the top-selling tablet on Amazon during the holiday season. This year promises to be even bigger for the Amazon Echo; we predict it will be among the season’s hottest products,” Schrieber said.

Use of “click and collect” among shoppers will more than double.

“Click and collect” services enable people to shop online and then pick up the items at the store, giving shoppers the ability to avoid long checkout lines and shipping fees. InfoScout expects usage of “click and collect” to spike dramatically this year.

“An InfoScout survey earlier this year showed that only 34.6 percent of shoppers had used ‘click and collect’ — but of those shoppers who used it during the 2015 holiday season, a full 95 percent plan to use it again in 2016. That suggests rapid adoption is on the way,” Schrieber said.

It will be another difficult holiday season for mobile payments.

Apple Pay had a disappointing season in 2015, being used in only 2.7 percent of eligible transactions. That was down from 4.9 percent in 2014. InfoScout predicts 2016 will be even tougher for Apple Pay — especially now that top retailers including Walmart and Kohl’s have introduced their own mobile payment options.

“The challenge for mobile payment options is that shoppers don’t find them any easier or more convenient to use than credit or debit cards. Until that changes, adoption will fail to cross the chasm,” Schrieber said.

Throughout the 2016 holiday shopping season, InfoScout’s team of researchers will be analyzing real-time data from millions of omnichannel shopping trips. This data is mapped to shopper profile data, instantly triggered surveys and more to provide the richest set of shopper insights available.

Business and consumer news media interested in specific holiday shopping data and trends may send inquiries to infoscout@ideagrove.com.

2016 Holiday Shopping Trends & Predictions, Part 1

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In the run-up to Black Friday, InfoScout’s team of researchers has been examining holiday shopping trends and has developed a number of predictions for the 2016 season. Here are some things to look out for in the weeks ahead:

Super Saturday is on track to overtake Black Friday as the No. 1 shopping day of the season.

Despite retailers’ best efforts to pull holiday shopping ahead of Black Friday, consumer procrastination is actually pulling trips later into December. Super Saturday (Dec. 17) —the last Saturday before the Christmas weekend — looks to continue its recent trend of stealing share of trips from Black Friday. In 2015, Super Saturday saw 12% more trips than the prior year, while Black Friday trips remained flat.

“Black Friday has become an increasingly artificial phenomenon, driven as much by retailer promotion as by its date on the calendar,” said Jared Schrieber, InfoScout’s co-founder and CEO. “Super Saturday, by contrast, offers a more practical reason for primacy in shopping trips — it’s the last weekend to shop before the holiday.”

Being a consumer’s “first stop” is more important than ever.

A smaller concentration of sales on Black Friday means shoppers will tend to complete their trips earlier — which makes the importance of being a shopper’s first stop greater than ever. Last year, for example, InfoScout data showed that shoppers who made Walmart their first stop on Black Friday spent nearly twice as much there as those who made it their second stop. Virtually every retailer achieves a substantial “first stop” benefit (on average, an 18 percent basket size increase).

“Last year, 74 percent of Black Friday shoppers went to more than one store, and many of those went to a third and fourth,” said Schrieber. “On the other end of the spectrum, 38 percent of shoppers who went to Walmart first did not go to any other store on Black Friday. We expect the trend toward visiting fewer stores to accelerate — which makes attracting customers to your store first critically important.”

For TV buyers, it’s all about price and size in 2016, not 4K resolution or other fancy features.

InfoScout’s recent survey of 840 recent TV buyers showed that just one in five TV buyers — 21 percent — purchase the brand they intended to purchase when they walk into the store. The rest either don’t have a specific brand in mind, or change their mind after they enter the store. What’s more, product features, such as 4K resolution or Smart TV functionality, are not the differentiators brands would like them to be. Only 26 percent of TV shoppers chose a specific brand because of product features.

“When we are expecting 55-inch 4K TVs to be sold for as low as $315 on Black Friday, are consumers really buying these TVs because they have 4K resolution? Our data suggests they will be buying them because they fit their wall and their wallet,” says Bob Goodwin, InfoScout’s practice leader for consumer technology.

Look for “2016 Holiday Shopping Trends & Predictions, Part 2” on our blog tomorrow.

Throughout the 2016 holiday shopping season, InfoScout’s team of researchers will be analyzing real-time data from millions of omnichannel shopping trips. This data is mapped to shopper profile data, instantly triggered surveys and more to provide the richest set of shopper insights available.

Business and consumer news media interested in specific holiday shopping data and trends may send inquiries to infoscout@ideagrove.com.

InfoScout is the Fastest Growing Private Company in the Bay Area!

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Because InfoScout gives retailers data they can’t get otherwise, it’s the fastest growing company in the Bay Area

InfoScout has been ranked #1 by the San Francisco Business Times on the 25th annual Fastest Growing Private Companies in the Bay Area list, an exclusive ranking of the region’s fastest growing private companies; one of the most important segments of the local economy. The winners and rankings were unveiled at an awards gala on October 13, 2016 at the Four Seasons San Francisco. This is InfoScout’s first year on the list.2016-sfbt-fast-private-logo-vertical-digital-small

The companies on this year’s list ranked between 58.9 percent and 2,786.5 percent growth (InfoScout!). Companies are ranked by percentage of revenue growth increase between 2013 and 2015. They were required to have at least $200,000 in revenue in 2013 and be privately held and headquartered in the counties covered by the Business Times — San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin, plus Palo Alto.

 

Whitepaper: Understanding Path to Purchase for Television Buyers

The path to purchase for TV buyers is often a complicated journey, with each consumer having his or her own timeline, priorities and preferences. Understanding solid data about customer behavior and attitudes, and converting this information into insights and business value, are essential to maximizing sales and earning customer loyalty.

In this whitepaper, we’ll learn about:

  • Zero Moment of Truth: Understanding the consideration phase of TV buyers’ path to purchase.
  • First Moment of Truth: Digging deeper into the consumer thought process to learn what happened on the day the TV was purchased.
  • Second Moment of Truth: Analyzing the various behaviors and activities that occur after the purchase of a new TV.

Complete this form to access the whitepaper:

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