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CPM UK conducts Pre-Christmas Shopper Research Study

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New CPM research into predicted Christmas shopper habits for 2013 suggests a shift in consumer spending patterns – with shoppers looking for deals, spreading the cost and being influenced by direct contact with product in-store rather than external triggers. 

During the first two weeks of September, CPM undertook a survey on consumer spending in the Golden Quarter, using data collected online from 567 shoppers, aged between 18 and 65+ and living in all regions of the UK in a mix of single and shared households, and families.  Our goal was to determine how and when shoppers will be making their Christmas spending decisions this year; also when and where the actual purchasing will take place.

Nick Davies, Head of CPM Insight, said: “UK retail will see billions of pounds spent up to and around the Christmas period. Not all purchase decisions are made on the day that the transaction takes place, so by having product in place during that decision-making process, brands have a better chance of capturing the customer’s future spend.”  The research indicates that the traditional early December spending spike is likely to flatten out for 2013, with much earlier decisions being made on what to buy. Value is still driving consumer purchasing decisions, and loyalty schemes are definitely on the ascendant; all of which suggests that supermarkets can look forward to a hike in Christmas gift revenue in the months ahead. 

The majority of the online respondents to CPM’s survey (71%) expect to spend roughly the same in 2013 as they spent in 2012;15% are looking to spend more while 15% plan to spend less.  “Age is a factor here” explains Nick Davies. “We found that the under 35s are twice as likely to spend more in 2013, while in the 35-44 age bracket for every one person who is planning to spend more there are three who are tightening their belts.  Demonstrating value is a key driver in selling to the older demographic; they’ll need to see, experience and choose to buy the brand.”  On the subject of budgeting, 10% of CPM’s respondents were part of a Christmas saving club, and another 15% claimed to have been saving throughout the year. This left 75% admitting to a last-minute approach to budgeting for Christmas. When asked  to rank the factors influencing their decision on where to shop, 69% of respondents placed value at the top of their list; 52% cited choice; 44% opted for availability and 43% rated convenient location. The in-store experience itself and access to good product advice were cited as supplementary factors.

Survey respondents revealed that the existence of product promotions in-store has a significant influence on their decision to purchase toys and games. Karen McGinn, Business Unit Director, Business Development at CPM says: “With so many competitors clamouring for attention it’s critical to ensure that products truly stand out in store and are able to attract shoppers, arouse their interest and convert them into buyers.”

Conversely, when it comes to decisions to purchase ‘grown-up toys’ - gadgets, tablets and  e-Readers - buyers are significantly more likely to undertake research into available options, rather than being lured into making an impulse purchase in-store. The tablet is once again set to command this hot-ticket sector. Google has recently refreshed its best-selling Nexus 7 tablet, Amazon continues to aggressively market its newly-refreshed Kindle Fire,  the market-leading iPad range is expected to have a refresh in October and Tesco is making waves with its new budget Hudl tablet. Adds Nick Davies: “Neatly intersecting the gadgets and toys categories are the new PS4 and Xbox consoles that are launching later this year. They are likely to sell out within days of launch, leaving the less agile shoppers empty-handed and hastily having to divert their Christmas spend into alternatives. “Technology brands will be able to capitalise on this ‘rebound’ market by paving the way with compelling messaging.  They should also consider where and when customers for the latest ‘must-haves’ will be, and prepare to meet them there.”

While high street and department stores predictably represent the main Christmas shopping destinations (nearly 50% of shoppers indicating that this would be their main channel), supermarkets (18%) and discounter channels (10%) will take a significant share. Nick adds: “The rapid growth of stores such as Aldi and Lidl means the discounter channel can’t be ignored – Christmas more than any other time is when consumers need their money to stretch further.” Over one third of CPM’s respondents stated that they were definitely planning to use vouchers to extend their spending power, while a further 40% were considering doing so. “Tesco is one retailer that has leveraged this within its marketing – the new budget Hudl tablet retailing at £119 but purchasable for £60 worth of Tesco Clubcard vouchers is flying off the shelves”, says Nick.  CPM’s research showed that almost 60% of purchasing decisions are made before December, with 50% of consumers looking for inspiration in the first nine months of the year.  When it comes to the actual purchasing activity, 60% takes place during the month of December. Over 40% of CPM shoppers stated that actually seeing product in-store was their main purchasing trigger; while 38% were prompted by the calendar. Reminders from friends and family (particularly children) constituted 25% of the influence to get down to Christmas shopping.

“Interestingly, the research showed that traditional advertising acts as a reminder rather than an initiator, with only one in seven shoppers being prompted about Christmas via ads or press articles” says Nick.  “Clearly it’s important for brands to use advertising as a means of maintaining demand; canny competitors to brands that are likely to sell-out early, can plan their own publicity to follow in the slipstream of the consumer interest and catch shoppers who missed out on the hot ticket item”, says Karen.

Online spend is growing: 25% of respondents said online will be their major Christmas gift purchasing channel this year, while 16% said it would constitute a significant portion of their shopping – men being considerably more likely to shop online. “The challenge here for brands is that in such a crowded space the quality of visuals and photography, along with well written copy and full product specification, is paramount if products are to achieve stand-out,” adds Karen. CPM’s Consumer Christmas Choices survey was the pilot of what will become an annual research exercise to monitor spending habits in the run-up to Christmas.

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