Research shows they will be shopping for themselves and buying products in preparation for entertaining as well as shopping for gifts. Mobile app users value convenience above all, but also use their phones to make sure they're getting a good price.

Lauren Farricker, director of data strategy and consumer insights, Kiip

Lauren Farricker, director of data strategy and consumer insights, Kiip

2018 is expected to be the strongest holiday shopping season of the digital age. According to Business Insider, e-commerce is growing five times faster than in-store retail, and mobile is pacing to account for nearly 40 percent of all e-commerce sales. With these trends in mind, retailers need to think about how they can best connect with holiday e-commerce shoppers and bridge the gap with between mobile and brick-and-mortar experiences.

In this article, based on new Kiip research, we take a look at holiday shopper behaviors, how consumers are planning to spend their money this upcoming season, and tips for reaching these shoppers in today’s mobile-first world. For this research, we deployed surveys across Kiip’s network of more than 11,000 mobile apps. The findings are based on 375,000 responses from more than 350,000 distinct devices.

The Gift Givers

What holiday shoppers will buy from big-box retailers

According to survey respondents, convenience is absolutely king when it comes to shopping for holiday gifts, and part of mobile’s growth is no doubt coming from the convenience it provides. In addition, big-box retailers like Walmart and Target are poised to come out on top due to their ability to offer a one-stop shopping experience for the holidays. In fact, 70 percent of respondents said that one-stop shopping is very important to them during the holidays, with another 19 percent considering it somewhat important. When visiting big-box retailers, either in-person or online, 41 percent of consumers say their main reason is to buy electronics, including tablets, smart speakers and phones.

55 percent of respondents plan to buy themselves new clothes over the holiday season.

To connect with convenience-obsessed consumers, retailers should consider providing content designed to ease the shopping experience at every turn. Time-saving tips and guides, such as must-have gifts for kids, are likely to resonate deeply with shoppers. Likewise, ad creative that focuses on convenience features—such as “reserve on mobile” and curbside pickup options—will appeal to shoppers who want to get gifts on their own terms and make their errands as easy as possible.

In addition, 42 percent of respondents said that they use their mobile phones to check prices online while shopping in a store. While this showrooming behavior isn’t new, it should be considered when developing holiday marketing campaigns. For strictly online retailers, it represents an opportunity to woo consumers from brick-and-mortar locations with better deals. For retailers with physical footprints, showrooming can be discouraged with location-targeted mobile messages reminding customers about price-matching services available to drive conversion in-store.

The Self Treaters

In planning their holiday campaigns, retailers tend to focus obsessively on the gift-giving side of the holidays. What they often forget—and what our respondents reinforced—was that most people also carve out some budget to treat themselves during the holidays.


Among the shoppers who are planning on indulging in gifts for themselves this holiday season, most said they plan to spend upwards of $50 on such a purchase, with 61 percent planning to spend more than $20 and 23 percent planning to spend more than $100. However, given the subsequent purchase plans revealed by these shoppers, it’s likely that these numbers are extremely conservative and the amount that users spend on themselves is much higher.

Apparel represents a popular category among those who treat themselves, with 55 percent of respondents planning to buy themselves new clothes over the holiday season. This includes both festive holiday-specific items as well as general warm-weather clothing.

In addition, it seems that a lot of respondents also expect to succumb to those too-good-to-be-true prices for new electronic devices during the holidays. We found that 41 percent of respondents plan to purchase an electronic device like a tablet, smart speaker or phone this season.


Consumers want to purchase items that allow them to be the best version of themselves over the holidays. Retail brands can take advantage of this desire by using location visitation to find shoppers who regularly visit stores and offer a gift specifically for them to survive and thrive during the holiday season. In ad creative, retailers can frame recommended purchases as a “gift for the family,” or as a way to enhance holiday entertaining.

The Entertainers

Finally, a good amount of the money spent during the holidays this year will be spent not on gifts at all, but on entertaining. And it’s not just food and alcohol brands that should be targeting these shoppers. According to our survey, a majority of people (54 percent) plan to host family members over the holidays. This means people will go online and head to stores for basic entertaining supplies, everything from cutlery and decorations to air mattresses and new furniture. Quite often, these purchases are made in haste, so online retailers in particular would be wise to tout conveniences like overnight shipping in appealing to the holiday entertainer who we know are purchasing more on the fly.

A big part of holiday entertaining is, of course, built around meals. In our research, 28 percent of people report meals as their preferred way to entertain guests, and 49 percent are planning to cook or bake holiday dishes this year.  But it’s not just food brands that can capitalize on these insights. For example, a clothing retailer might consider targeting mobile users in recipe apps with playful messaging around deals on their stretchiest pants or products that remove stains so you don’t embarrass yourself when seeing your in-laws.


Overall, retailers need to broaden their thinking when it comes to holiday consumers, as well as the way they reach them across channels. With a growing portion of holiday sales shifting to mobile, marketers need to consider how they bridge the gap between in-store and e-commerce environments to deliver the ultimate convenient shopping experience that consumers so desperately desire this holiday season.

Kiip operates an in-app mobile advertising network.