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2017 Post-Holiday Report: CPG and Retail Industry Insights

We are doing things a bit differently this year. As you may have noticed, we have done away with our Pre-Holiday Reports, retiring them after five great years of forecasting and exploring purchase intentions. Our reasoning: Pre-Holiday Reports, we have heard from our Retail industry and CPG industry clients, do not provide adequate time to put insights into action—by the time shoppers have shaped their holiday purchase intentions, retailers have necessarily already completed their holiday preparations.

Thus, we have committed ourselves to producing a far more robust 2017 Post-Holiday Report. Gone is the side-by-side comparisons of shoppers' pre-holiday purchase intentions and post-holiday realities, replaced instead with a firm analysis of the 2017 holiday shopping season, the ways it compares to previous holiday seasons, and what current news and events can tell us about those to come.

Between January 1 and January 16, we surveyed 1,743 respondents from our proprietary database, interrogating the timing, variety, and spend of their 2017 holiday shopping season. From over half of the Silent generation (ages 72+) using Amazon Prime, to Millennial 1s (ages 18-27) showing the biggest spending increase over last year, there were certainly some surprises in the data set.

So, pour yourself a glass of nostalgic eggnog and relive the highs and lows of the holiday season.

The Aggregate Holiday Shopper

Top line summary first, and then we will dive in to some generational specifics and peculiarities.  Our aggregate respondent spent between $251-$500 on their holiday list, which contained 7 people. They completed the majority of their shopping after Cyber Monday, spending the same or less than last holiday season. They are increasingly using mobile technology, decreasingly likely to go shop in-store, and not interested in making purchases for a family pet. Sorry, Charles Bark-ley.

Millennial 1s Rising Up

As if marketers and merchandisers didn't already pay enough attention to Millennial 1s, they are the clear the stars of this report.

As the only generation to increase its holiday spend over last year, they were, according to our data, responsible for the only spending growth we saw over last year. As we point out in the report, adding anything to zero is an increase, so this is likely just a case of our youngest respondents flexing their disposable income muscles for the first time. Indeed, 53% of them spent more than they did last year, while the majority of every other generation trended towards the same or a decreased spend.

In other news to be filed in the "music to retailers' ears" category: Millennial 1s proved more willing than any other generation to pay full price for their top gift choice. In fact, 36% of them proved willing to do so, significantly higher than any other generation. This is hard to explain any way other than, well, they want what they want when they want it.

And one final tidbit about Millennial 1s. They were the likeliest generation to delay their holiday shopping until holiday season proper began—after cyber Monday. The majority of every generation spready out their shopping season to include the months before December, taking advantage of discount days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

There are a few ways to think about and explain this. It is highly likely that Millennial 1's income, well increasing year-over-year, still remains far more fluid and less dependable than that of generations more firmly established in their careers. This could cause them to delay their purchases until their checks are firmly in the bank, which brings up another likely factor:  It could also be that they have yet to grow comfortable with amassing credit card debt—coming of age during the great 2008 recession may have just plain spooked them. Perhaps then they aren't buying on credit, just cold hard cash.

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Silents not Exercising Internet Silence

Other generational surprises abound. Would you believe that nearly half (49%) of the Silent Generation did at least a portion of their shopping with Amazon Prime? We don't get surprised by data all that often around here, but there is no shame in us admitting: that number took us a bit by surprise.

Long known as luddites who insist on in-person, or at the very least over-the-phone interactions, they are logging in, filling up their shopping cart, and taking advantage of that sweet two-day delivery. This means that Amazon is no longer an ascendant phenomenon but a legitimate institution, claiming swaths of every generation and income level.

Amazon Continues to Dominate the Retail Industry

Which leads us to our final point: Amazon has come to dominate the retail industry in ways that would seem unfathomable even a decade ago. 

Indeed, Amazon is now the top purchase destination for each of the three major holiday retail categories: fashion/apparel, electronics, and toys. And in some of these categories, it's not even close. For example, 41% of shoppers reported Amazon as a primary purchase destination for electronics, an increase of 11% over the last two years alone. In that same time, Best Buy's market share has dipped down to 22%. This is remarkable. It is as if we have front row seats to a changing of the electronics retail guard, as the online comes to firmly supplant the digital.

What Else is in the 2017 Post-Holiday Report?

The report offers in-depth analysis of these purchase trends across generational and income demographics. We know the majority of shoppers are migrating online, but via which devices and platforms, and for what reasons? How do shoppers with the lowest and highest budgets differ in their spending practices and shopping habits; what percentage of respondents give, receive, and enjoy giving and receiving gift cards; and how many people actually add their pet to their holiday gift list?

We answer these and many other questions in our 2017 Post Holiday Report.

Click here to download the report.

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