When asked what they enjoy most about the holiday season, 69% said connecting with family and friends, 64% said giving gifts and 49% said receiving gifts. Despite big changes in consumer behavior due to economic volatility and post-COVID trends, the holidays are still about the deeper meaning, being with loved ones, and the joy of giving. This makes the holiday season a huge opportunity for marketers to reach engaged, passionate consumers. 

We used MobileVoice®, ironSource’s proprietary market research solution, to learn more about consumer behavior this season. Dive into the key findings below or download the full report.

1. Women (84%) are more likely to make holiday purchases than men (67%)

The holidays wouldn’t be the same without the shopping frenzy - in fact, only 12% of consumers plan to abstain from shopping this season. Women are also more likely than men to be making holiday purchases, and parents are the most likely demographic to shop at 86%. After all, they have Santa letters to answer. 

Takeaway: With each demographic participating, your advertising strategy should be inclusive. That said, women are purchasing more than men and parents are the least likely to sit out this season, so make moms a priority. As data shows, they are the core shoppers in the family. 

2. Most consumers (65%) will spend the same, or even more than they did in 2021

While economic volatility has been a concern for both consumers and advertisers the past few months, in reality, most consumers do not plan to decrease their shopping budgets this year - planning to spend between $251-$500. 

The oldest and youngest generations surveyed spend the most and the least on holiday shopping, respectively - Gen X is the most likely to spend over $1,000 while Gen Z is most likely to keep budgets under $500 and the most likely to spend less than $100. We can see that as consumers get older, they have more purchasing power and are able to give bigger, bolder gifts, and more of them. 

Takeaway: This makes Gen X the demographic to pay attention to for big budget items, like cars, appliances, jewelry, etc. On the other hand, Gen Z will probably opt for affordable stocking stuffers or special edition gift sets. 

3. General merchandise retailers (75%) are the preferred shopping destination

While going to the mall and stopping at multiple brick and mortar stores to check off their gift lists was once popular,  today, consumers value convenience more. The majority of consumers (75%) prefer to purchase all of their gifts at once from the same store, ranging from clothing to electronics to pet supplies - typically at general merchandise retailers such as Target, Walmart, etc. 

That said, parents will also purchase directly from brands - it’s likely their kids have specified exactly what they want in their letters to Santa and the brand itself is the most likely place to find it. 40% plan to support local businesses and purchase from them, with Gen X, the oldest generation, the most likely at 50%.

Takeaway: Whether you’re a general merchandise retailer, direct-to-consumer brand, or local business, be sure to highlight all the ways consumers can easily find and purchase your products through your advertising. Rather than just sharing the value of your products, also share the value of your customer service, store-front, web touchpoint, etc. 

4. Most consumers (64%) will use their mobile phone or tablet to shop

In the post-COVID era, mobile devices and tablets have become an even more influential touchpoint for shopping, especially during the busiest time of the year, the holidays. When shopping from these handheld devices, most consumers will choose to use shopping apps, followed by mobile web, and rewarded offers. After all, the app touchpoint for a brand usually has a much better UX than the mobile web touchpoint. 

Even more so, 59% of consumers are also open to downloading new apps to assist their holiday shopping after seeing an ad for it. 

Takeaway: It’s critical to highlight your app touchpoint or, at least, your mobile touchpoint to ensure you’re not missing out on valuable shoppers. Even more so, if you’re a shopping app, now’s a good time to reach users with your holiday messaging. While it’s never too late to get an install, you want to reach users before they check off their last item. 

5. More than any other demographic, parents (75%) enjoy gift giving the most

Parents enjoy the act of giving the most, likely because it’s their role to play Santa and channel the child within them. That said, gift giving remains a meaningful part of the holidays for everybody, even more important to consumers than receiving gifts. 

Interestingly, Gen X is the least likely age group to enjoy gift giving and receiving. With years spent dedicated to shopping for the holidays, Gen X today are often more excited about the relaxing, fun nature of the season - connecting with family and friends and the festivities. On the other hand, the youngest generation, Gen Z is the most likely to say receiving gifts is important to them. 

This year, consumers plan to give gifts to everybody in their circles, even their pets, with nearly 50% of Gen Z and Millennials planning to do so. In the spirit of the season, the majority (61%) of consumers will give gifts to the children in their families. 

Takeaway: There’s a strong sense of sincerity and intimacy that comes with giving and receiving gifts during the holidays. It’s important that your marketing strategy reflects an understanding of such to appeal to the emotions of consumers. 

6. Clothes and footwear are the most popular gifts (75%) 

While there are thousands of gift options, clothes and footwear top the list with 75% saying they plan on purchasing them as gifts this year. This trend spans across all generations - from the oldest to the youngest member of the family, the whole family is likely to be unwrapping sweaters, pajamas, slippers, and more this year. 

Takeaway: This means you should put clothing and footwear at the forefront of your advertising strategy. For example, you can highlight these products in your creatives or offer special discounts for certain items. 

Within the electronics sector, there is often a wave of new devices bought and set up during the season - 51% of consumers say they would consider giving a new phone over the holidays. Similarly, 49% said they’re likely to buy themselves a new phone this season to upgrade their mobile experience, with parents most likely to do so. 

Takeaway: The holidays are a critical time for device activations, making them a unique, high-impact advertising channel. On-device advertising allows you to reach users the moment they unbox their newly gifted smartphones and then again throughout the device lifecycle. Learn more about ironSource Aura.

7. Rewarded ads influence purchasing decisions for 40% of consumers

Just as consumers are turning to mobile to shop this season, mobile ads also have a strong influence on consumers’ shopping decisions, especially rewarded ads that offer users a clear value exchange. In fact, 40% say that ads that provide rewards influence their purchasing decisions and 48% have been influenced by rewarded ads for gift ideas, with parents the most likely to be swayed by an ad that offers perks. 

In terms of the most popular rewards or offers, consumers seek out rewards for clothing and footwear primarily, which is in line with these products being the most popular holiday gifts. 

Besides rewarded ads, 31% say their purchase decisions have also been influenced by playable ads that are gamified or interactive. These ad units aren’t disruptive to the mobile experience and offer users a fun activity to take their mind off the present moment. 

Takeaway: Start running campaigns on rewarded traffic to reach a valuable audience and ensure consumers are open to seeing your mobile ads. 

8. The fall (28%) and Black Friday/Cyber Monday (27%) are the most popular times to shop for the holidays 

It’s no secret that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest shopping days of the year. In fact, 64% of consumers will participate in Black Friday shopping this year. Not leveraging these days, especially on mobile, is a missed opportunity. Even more so, the majority of consumers shop for the holidays in the fall, even as early as Halloween. This year, they plan to start even earlier. 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about offering unbeatable deals, and finding the most unbeatable one out there is the most important factor influencing purchase decisions on these critical shopping days. This means it’s important to ensure your offers stand out above competitors in the ecosystem. Following getting a great deal, consumers care about the quality of the brands and products. 

Takeaway: Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t just buzz words, consumers care a lot about these shopping days due to the jaw-dropping deals. To beat the competition on these important days, the strength of your offer is of utmost importance, even more than the product itself. Consider offering similar big sales throughout the year at critical times, back to school shopping, spring cleaning, etc.

The holidays are quickly approaching, and this year won’t be like the last. We hope these insights can help you and your team make the most of your holiday advertising strategy. Download the full report.

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