The latest research from SheSpeaks, the influencer marketing and media platform, has reaffirmed something some of us have long suspected: reviews have a significant impact on purchase decisions, particularly during the holiday season.

“Our community of 250,000 women are a great barometer for brands and retailers as they launch their holiday shopping strategies and try to reach the hearts and minds of female consumers,” says Aliza Freud, SheSpeaks’ CEO. The firm analyzed 2,310 of its members about their holiday shopping habits, uncovering a number of interesting observations that can be useful to your brand’s holiday marketing:

  1. Cyber Monday is a more popular time for holiday shopping than Black Friday (nearly 60% vs. 46% of respondents). The SheSpeaks survey turned out to be prescient, as this year, Black Friday sales took a hit, while Cyber Monday topped $3 Billion for the first time. By comparison, less than 10% of women plan to shop on Christmas Eve.
  1. More than any other age group, younger Millennials (18-24) are using YouTube for holiday shopping. Companies that don’t invest in their brand’s owned and earned presence on YouTube are, simply, missing out.
  1. Some of the top digital resources for shopping include Amazon product reviews (45%) and wish lists (32%). From my experience consulting brands at Firebrand Group, I’ve learned that very few brands even have an Amazon-specific strategy! This is a miss, and an opportunity for brands to focus on Amazon for holiday sales.
  1. Reviews are important enough that roughly half of women indicate that they won’t purchase a product specifically requested by someone close to them if it has bad reviews.
  1. Only 16% of respondents consider the economy to be improving; interestingly, over half indicate that it won’t impact their holiday shopping.
  1. 40% of women indicate that they aim to split their holiday shopping 50/50 between offline and ecommerce. This is further proof that companies who talk about how their ecommerce buyer and offline buyer are two entirely different women need to course correct. Moreover, brand marketers have to unify messaging across channels, as the same buyer is seeing everything. Simply put, your ecommerce marketers need to be speaking to your offline marketers.
  1. Women who are 45 or older tend to skew towards doing more offline shopping.
  1. Nearly 30% of women indicated that they expected to increase the amount of holiday shopping they do with Amazon this year. Millennials are most likely to increase their net spending with Amazon, but also expect to spend more at Target.
  1. About two-thirds of Millennials have used or plan to use their phones to make purchases, and young Millennials are the most likely to increase purchasing by phone this season; women 45 are the least likely. This goes to show that a responsive website is a cost of doing business. If your website isn’t yet mobile-friendly, you are consciously making the decision to throw away holiday sales.
  1. Clothing and accessories top women’s wish list (56%), with gift cards sharing that top spot. Beauty products are a rather distant second (40%). Women would also prefer a tangible gift (46%) rather than an experiential one (35%).

How’s your holiday marketing game plan working out so far? Here’s hoping one or two of these observations helps give you a boost to increase this year’s figures.


Jeremy Goldman

Jeremy Goldman has been working with companies looking to take their operations online and inject “social” into their processes for over a decade. After a career at L'Oreal and Unilever, Jeremy founded Firebrand Group. His views have been featured in publications such as Inc., Mashable, Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, ReadWriteWeb, and The Next Web. His first book, Going Social: Excite Customers, Generate Buzz, and Energize Your Brand with the Power of Social Media hit the #1 spot on for social media and business.

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