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Snapshot of the 2004 Online Holiday Shopper

  |  December 21, 2004   |  Comments

Surveys reveal e-spending increases, and other online holiday purchase demographics.

The average online buyer is spending more this holiday season; is less price-obsessive; expects to buy during the last week; and among big spenders, is more likely to be male than you might expect, according to a number of reports analyzed by ClickZ.

Spending More

Online shoppers are almost twice as likely to increase their online shopping this year than last, according to DoubleClick's latest holiday shopping survey, which polled 501 respondents. The report finds 45 percent of online shoppers plan to spend more online this year, versus the 25 percent of respondents who planned to spend more in the 2003 holiday season than in 2002.

In terms of dollars, JupiterResearch estimates total online spending will increase to $21.6 billion this holiday season, up 18.7 percent from last year. Gartner Group, meanwhile, projects a less robust increase of 9.9 percent, to 20.0 billion.

Projected Increase In Online Holiday Sales

The Week Before Christmas

Heading into the last shopping days before Christmas, a majority of online merchants expect to conduct significant business online. Approximately 54 percent of online merchants polled in a LaGarde Storefront study said they guaranteed Christmas arrival for orders placed in the last week before Christmas.

One example is eBags, which launched an online banner campaign targeting the last week before Christmas guaranteeing two-day delivery.

Beyond Price, Research and Brand

The online holiday buyer, while predicted to be in a last minute rush, isn't price-obsessed, according to a study conducted by MIT's Sloan School of Management.

The study found online shoppers are influenced by an array of factors, including retailer reliability, delivery time, and brand names, said Erik Brynjolfsson, director of Sloan School's Center for eBusiness.

"A common assumption has been that the more time people spend searching, the more price sensitive they are," Brynjolfsson said. "But there's more to a product than its price. We found that consumers weren't just searching for lower prices, but for other characteristics. In fact, when given a choice of retailers for the same book, less than half the consumers picked the cheapest retailer."

Driven Mostly by Search

In terms of conduits leading to the point of sale, the average online shopper is most likely to find an online gift through a search engine this season. Approximately 38 percent of respondents found their gift through search engine results, according to the DoubleClick report. The next most popular means of finding an online gift included: "seeing products on a Web site" (30 percent); "seeing them in a catalog" (22 percent); or a store (20 percent); via ads on search engines (17 percent); and email marketing (16 percent).

Marketing Techniques Driving Online Holiday Shopping
Methods Comsumers Used to Find a Gift to Buy Online Percentage
Search engine results 38%
Seeing products on a web site 30%
Word of mouth 26%
Seeing them in a catalog 22%
Seeing them in a store 20%
Ads on search engines 17%
E-mail marketing 16%
Television ads 15%
Television programs 14%
Web advertising 14%
Comparison online shopping tools 12%
Magazine ads 11%
Source: DoubleClick Inc.

Males Splurge More Than Females

Finally, while more women say they shop online, men actually outspend them, according to America Online. AOL surveyed over 6,000 respondents and found men will spend 15 percent more than women online this holiday season. On average, men will spend $326, women will spend an estimated $284.

The data are striking in that 90 percent of female respondents believe themselves to be the big online shoppers in their households. Statistically, women value bargain-hunting more than their male counterparts.

The survey also found that, on average, men are willing to spend as much as $1,751 for a single item online. The average maximum for women is $787.

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