Study: Shopping Trends and Pitching Tips for Christmas 2014


This holiday season is awash in data. The matter at hand isn’t just where and when people shop but how they shop — and the numbers diverge sharply across demographic groups.

It’s all much more complicated than “Millennials are more likely to look for deals online.”

Our friends at SHIFT Communications recently conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans and gathered information from sources like the National Retail Federation in order to craft a fuller portrait of how consumers behave in 2014. They also revealed their findings about how PR should organize and pitch related stories to media outlets.

Infographic and commentary after the jump.

SHIFT infographics

Some key takeaways:

  • Millennials may be cheap, but they’re now spending more money than Boomers during the holiday season
  • Everyone under the age of 55 is now more likely to shop online than in the store
  • The vast majority of Americans don’t shop early, no matter how retailers advertise their Black Friday deals

The most interesting finding: the demographic groups whose members say they hate holiday shopping also spend the most money. They’re attached to the sentiment behind the act of giving gifts, so maybe they’re not as cynical as we thought…

But what does this all mean for PR? From SHIFT VP of Marketing Technology Chris Penn:

“These findings speak to the enormous importance of data and audience segmentation in public relations work. A data-driven PR program should take the findings into account and adjust strategic appropriately.

For example,  a pitch to AARP about the holidays had better reflect the tendency to shop in-store (and deal with the subsequent crowds), whereas a pitch to the 3V’s (Vox, Vice, and the Verge) needs to address frugality and omnipresent shopping capability on mobile devices.

Even something as simple as creative content and imagery matters; a pitch to a mainstream media publication aimed at GenX might want to focus on imagery of holiday decorations in an associated story or byline, whereas a photo of a family gathering or dinner would work better for AARP.

We emphasize internally the absolute importance of understanding the demographics and psychographics of our various clients’ audiences and using this research, combined with best-of-breed analysis tools, to target pitches appropriately to the right demographics. We provide this guidance to our entire agency via our blog and internal social network so that teams can make the appropriate adjustments.”

What do we think? Do SHIFT’s findings reflect your firm’s 2014 holiday strategy?