What consumers want for the 2018 holiday shopping season

Retail Insights



Holiday can bring hives for retailers and brands. The expectations are enormous, the opportunities even bigger, and the possibilities of falling short of goals are very real.


We surveyed more than 1500 consumers, retail leaders, and retail sales associates (RSAs) on how they prepare for holiday shopping, and the results are clear: there’s a significant disconnect between what consumers want, how retail leaders prepare, and what sales associates need. For brands and retailers, the stakes are too high to let consumers — and potential sales — fall through the cracks during this high-traffic, high-volume time.


What did we find?

ExpertVoice chart showing percentage of shoppers who conduct their holiday shopping research before and during the holidays It starts earlier than you think. Because holiday shopping is a time when consumers generally spend a great deal of money — including bigger purchases like televisions, laptops, etc. — consumers plan ahead. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2017 Holiday Playbook, 54% of consumers begin researching a product intended for a holiday purchase as early as October. In fact, 33% of consumers are already buying holiday gifts before Halloween.

When ExpertVoice asked consumers about shopping during Thanksgiving Weekend, as many as 66% stated they will primarily purchase items they’re already aware of — and have already researched — prior to beginning of the holiday shopping season.



ExpertVoice bar graph showing how helpful consumers think retail sales associates are It’s not all about discounts. Purchasing a lot of gifts during the holidays can be financially straining, which is why it’s no surprise that consumers look for a good deal. However, 4 in 10 consumers are incentivized by something besides a discount. Educated RSAs, a wide product selection, and even a little holiday spirit all contribute to the consumer having a positive shopping experience.


Consumers need help. 6 in 10 consumers consider educated and informed retail sales associates to be important to their shopping experience, but only 26% of consumers find retail sales associates helpful during the holidays. That number looks scary, but the good news is the RSAs who have experience and knowledge about products provide helpful assistance.



Retail leaders work to create great in-store experiences. 53% of retail leaders — store managers and supervisors — state that the single most important factor for achieving their organization’s holiday goals is a good in-store experience for customers. That can mean different things for different retailers, but the end goal is the same: customers who confidently buy what they need or want. Despite this priority, retail leaders only put 23% of total resources toward training. And only 38% say they train retail sales associates on product use case.


Retail sales associates want more. 89% of retail sales associates state they spend the majority of their time assisting consumers — having conversations that lead to purchases. But only 8% state they interact with brand-specific content as a part of their preparation and training.


How often do you recommend things you’re unfamiliar with? Probably not often. Well, retail sales associates operate in much the same way. In a previous survey, 92% of respondents said that having experiences with products is important to further their product education, and 88% stated that they need product knowledge in order to provide a useful recommendation. This is a significant opportunity for brands and retailers to close the gap between the helpful and the unhelpful sales associate.


Click here to read more about what what consumers plan to do during the holiday shopping season.

ExpertVoice Holiday Playbook cover

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