Holiday shopping survey: Do shoppers prefer customer reviews or discounts?

As marketing preparations come to the fore for the holiday season, which information is most helpful to consumers when they are shopping, and what strategies do marketers deploy for the holidays?

San Francisco-based traffic monetisation platform VigLink has surveyed 500 consumers and 500 publishers in the US to get an understanding of publishers' marketing tactics and practices over the holiday period.

It then compared them to how consumers like to shop and receive information during the holidays. The results pointed to some disconnects and patterns in customer shopping behaviour.

The survey revealed that the content marketers produce does not necessarily line up with how consumers like to receive information during this busy shopping season.

A sizeable 44.6 percent of consumers said they don't shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Instead, consumers are researching, planning, and buying items online and in-stores throughout October, November and December.

Of those that do shop, 27.4 percent make a purchase online on Black Friday, and 11.2 percent said they go to the store before making a purchase.

A savvy 59 percent of consumers said they start shopping for the holidays in October or November. This aligns well with the 44.6 percent of publishers who said they typically start pushing holiday-related content at the same time.

The survey showed that social media influencers are not key to validating a brand product. The survey showed that, 19.4 percent of consumers said they are more inclined to purchase if a social media influencer is promoting a product.

However 19.8 percent of consumers said they are less inclined to purchase if a social media influencer is promoting a product.

Although 70.4 percent of consumers said that customer reviews are the most helpful resource when making a decision about a product, 46 percent of consumers prefer to gather information about a product from reviews placed on a company's website.

The number one type of content that publishers typically share during the holidays is pricing information, including coupons and discounts (43 percent).

Over 57 percent of consumers ranked pricing information, including coupons and discounts, as the second most helpful piece of information when trying to make a purchasing decision.

So what does this mean for marketers? Are consumers jumping on the promos that marketers share? Or are they waiting it out for a bigger discount?

The survey showed that brands should not rely on the Cyber Five to make the sales. Instead, they need to provide the right content for purchases throughout the shopping season.

Even though 20.2 percent of consumers said they wait to start shopping for the holidays in December, marketers need to make sure their content is helpful to these last-minute shoppers

Brands still should be cautious and strategic in promotions with online influencers. Consumers are savvy enough to decipher complementary brand-influencer relationships and, more detrimentally, ones that don't jive as well.

As long as product information is clear and comprehensive, customers will be happy. Anything that reduces stress for the consumer is bound to be a success for the marketer - and the brand.

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