2018 Holiday gift shopping

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2018 Holiday Gift Shopping - US

When it comes to gift shopping and gift-giving during the 2018 holiday season, millennials were driven by their usage of mobile devices for research and price comparison (“webroom”), their need to post pictures of unique gifts on social media, and the trend of owning and humanizing their pets and shopping gifts for them, as much as they would do for a family member.

Research methodology

We commenced our research by looking for the general habits of millennials when purchasing gifts during holiday seasons. The search revealed that the lifestyle and habits of each millennial determined their gift purchasing and gift-giving behavior. Following this, we focused on finding statistical data regarding the habits of millennials when purchasing gifts during the holiday season, in order to present them as a trend. PWC, Nielsen, RetailMeNot, MobileMarketer, Edelman, G/O Digital, UsToday are some of the sources we examined to find the required information. All the sources commonly had information on 'How millennials choose and buy gifts?' and 'What they expect when they give them?'.

After finding all the information from the above-mentioned domains, we chose the habits that constitute a trend following these criteria:
  • We first chose the habits that were mentioned in almost all the sources and heavily supported by marketing studies.
  • Connecting the discovered data with repeatedly mentioned habits (also that are related to their lifestyle), we defined their buy and gift-giving behavior.
  • The habits repeatedly mentioned were mobile usage, social media posting, and owning a pet. We also selected these habits because they apply only to millennials, and are not common among other generations.

Further, we performed an extensive search on several credible domains to verify the information.

Trends and motivations


  • In 2018, millennials had a direct impact on holiday purchasing and altered the way they usually spend the money. According to a Nielsen study, 75 million millennials in the United States outspent baby boomers, and they were expected to spend a total of $85 billion in 2018 holiday season.
  • Also, about 93% of them were expected to search for good deals, but without sacrificing quality, convenience, and speed (sometimes more than price).
  • They were the largest users of social media when it came to looking for brands and deals. The number of millennials that planned to use social media sites for their holiday shopping in 2018 nearly doubled to 15%, from 8% in 2017.
  • Social media not only impacted millennial's buying habits. But, when it came to giving a gift, they did it to feel good and to earn likes on their social media posts.

1. usage of mobile devices for research

The increasing trend of buying and searching for deals in mobile devices are slowly decreasing the pressure to purchase items on Black Friday, because now deals and promotions are consistently reflected in mobile apps and on social media, and millennials are "less inclined to pull themselves away from their families and celebrations in order to enter the chaos of malls on Black Friday".

According to the last Mobile Marketer Survey, millennials are the most likely to combine mobile devices with their in-store shopping experience. More than 27% will "click & ship" meaning they'll use a mobile device or desktop to buy a product they first saw in a store. And, 61% of millennials will use a mobile device at some point as they browse and shop for the perfect gift.

40% of millennials "webroom" a product before they buy it. In other words, they perform research and compare prices before they buy the product online or in a store. Also, according to a survey from RetailMeNot, 93% of millennials will search for deals this holiday season.

2. The idea of a 'perfect' gift

23% of "millennials consider whether the recipient will post a photo of the gift on social media when buying a holiday gift." According to a survey from LoopCommerce, 52% of millennial gift buyers worry that their gift won't be good enough to post on social media when compared to 38% of baby boomers and 46% of Gen X respondents.

Millennials don’t like traditional gift cards. They much prefer to purchase gifts that are more unexpected, unique, and memorable when compared to the standard products such as gift cards. In fact, compared to other generations, only 33% of Millennials purchase gift cards compared to 36% for baby boomers and 39% for Generation X.

37% of millennial shoppers state that they present gifts to make themselves feel good, so they are more concerned about choosing a gift for its uniqueness and not its price. The need to purchase a perfect gift which is worthy to be a social media post make millennials more confident than any other generation when it comes to choosing the perfect gift.

3. Humanizing and presenting gifts to pets

According to a survey conducted by Harris Insights/OpenX, millennials plan to spend nearly $100 on their pets for Christmas. This is due to the growing trend, where pet owners treat their pets like family members known as “humanization”. As a result, premium pet food and toys are selling more.

35% of millennials own at least one pet. They constitute the largest pet-owning consumer segment and half of them buy gifts for their pets at least once a month. According to PWC's 2018 Holiday Outlook, millennials spend over 8% of their holiday budget on gifts for their pets.

In the words of Lori Kogan, a psychologist and a clinical science professor at Colorado State University regarding giving gifts to pets, “It’s the same kind of joy you get when you bring home a gift to a small child”.
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2018 Holiday Gift Shopping - West Coast

Even though the unavailability of resources that provided an overview of West Coast region's millennial gift shopping and gift-giving trends and motivations during the 2018 holiday season limited our research findings, we were able to identify some relevant trends and motivation. These trends, i.e. social shopping, use of gift cards, and shopping in brick and mortar retailers all apply to millennials. Our research methodology and findings follow below.


We started research by looking for relevant information in industry reports featured in credible resources that included Emarketer, CMO, GlobeNewswire, Deloitte, and KPMG. Through this strategy, we were only able to find information on the U.S. and global holiday season trends and millennial shopping trends, but this information was not specific to the West Coast region of the United States, i.e. the states of California, Arizona, and Washington.

We then turned our search for information to media publications and blogs like Forbes, Business Insider, Retail Dive, Green Book Blog, and Slide Share in the hope that these resources contained expert articles that would be relevant to the research criteria. However, after a thorough search through this type of resources, we were only able to find information on millennial shopping behaviors, how millennials plan to do their holiday shopping, what will influence millennial holiday purchase decisions, millennials hitting the stores this holiday season among other forms of general findings. In essence, this strategy did not yield anything that was specific to the West Coast states of the United States. Finally, we tried to search for surveys and studies from credible sources that included Google Scholar, HBR, Retail Dive, and Phys, but once again our search did not yield any surveys/studies that contained relevant information in regard to the research criteria.

In our second strategy, we tried to broaden our research to sources that were older than the standard 24 months in the hope that we would be able to identify some insightful resources. However, after doing a thorough search for such resources, we were unable to find any that were relevant to the research criteria. We also thought of broadening our research metrics to target the whole of the United States, but this was not possible as this scope was already covered in a different request.

After our first two strategies failed, we concluded that the required information is not available precompiled in the public domain resulting in us trying a triangulation approach. We began by looking for the share of millennials in the West Coast over the total number of millennials in the United States. We wanted to use this type of data to derive the West Coast region's millennial gift shopping and gift-giving trends and motivations during the 2018 holiday season. However, this information was not available publicly resulting in the failure of our triangulation approach. This strategy only yielded general information on the top 15 cities where more millennials are moving to, millennials flocking to America's biggest cities, and top 5 West Coast cities for millennials in 2017. This information was not relevant to the research strategy because it did not give us a proper perspective that we could apply in research.

Lastly, we looked for relevant information in sources that are limited by paywalls like Euromonitor, Markets and Markets, Market Research, and Emarketer. Through this strategy, we were able to identify a holiday shopping 2018 report in Emarketer that highlights economic trends, key shopping day dynamics, Emarketer interviews, seven key trends for the 2018 holiday season, and key takeaways for marketers. However, we were unable to identify any data on West Coast millennials through the content of the reports.

After exhausting our research strategies, we concluded that data regarding the trends and motivations of the West Coast region's millennial gift shopping and gift-giving in the 2018 holiday season is not available in the public domain. We attributed this to the fact that there might be an extensive lack of research in this region's market with the available research having a focus on the overall trends and motivations of the United States.




According to an article on Forbes, more than 33% of millennials rely on peer-generated endorsements when shopping resulting in them waiting until someone they trust has tried out something. In addition, millennials are 13% more likely to share their purchases on social media than Gen Xers because they want to get the opinions of their friends and family.
In the United States, 28% of internet users that are aged 18 to 55 which also includes millennials consider purchasing through social media i.e. buying things through Instagram or Pinterest while holiday shopping while 19% of these internet users are likely to consider it in the next five years.


In reference to a report by the International Council of Shopping Centers, during the 2017 holiday, millennials planned to spend an average of $554.40 on holiday gifts and related items.

A research study by Virtual Incentives revealed that 50% of millennials "prefer to receive, and nearly 40% prefer to give virtual gift cards or virtual Visa® cards" during the holiday season because they like a choice of brand-specific gift cards or Visa cards that they spend anywhere. Additionally, 1 in 3 millennials prefers to receive discounts and rewards instantly on their mobile device.


According to a Euclid survey, "Thanksgiving (30%), Black Friday (28%) and the day after Christmas (28%) are likely to be the busiest days for all respondents shopping in brick-and-mortar stores." In reference to a Gartner report, in 2017, around 85% of holiday sales took place in physical stores.

In addition, 63% of millennials are looking forward to the Amazon stores near them in place of the online platform. Another research by the International Council of Shopping Centers reported that 92% of millennials plan to spend money in a physical store resulting in a 3.8% year-over-year growth in retail sales.
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Beverages As Gift

Adult beverages like wine and champagne are given as gifts by Millennials. These are given during occasions such as family gatherings, Valentine’s day and Christmas dinners. 25% of Millennials purchased wine to be given as gifts during Christmas. Additionally, Millennials will often rely on staff in wine shops to guide their purchasing decisions when selecting wines to be given as gifts during holidays. Below is a methodology that was used in this research.


Our initial strategy was to search for information on when and how Millennials choose adult beverages as gifts. The objective was to identify surveys and studies that contained information on purchase of adult beverages by Millennials. Some of the sources we looked at include Neilson, Money Wise, Forbes, Pew Research and Business Insider. However, these sources did not include any surveys or studies relating to the purchase of adult beverages as gifts by Millennials.

The next strategy was to check for information on spending habits of Millennials on adult beverages as gifts. Our objective was to identify which adult beverages Millenials spend their money on and the motivation behind these purchases. Some of the sources we looked at include Yahoo Finance, CJ Media Source, and RDLB Agency. These resources contained information on the gifting preference of Millennials during various occasions such as Weddings, Christmas, Anniversaries, Thanksgiving days. However, while we did not find a detailed breakdown of amounts spent by Millenials on purchasing various beverages, we established that the average amount spent by Millennials on the purchase of wine as gifts.

We then shifted our focus to check for purchase trends of Millennials in relation to wine purchases as gifts. Some of the sources checked include StellaRising, Neilson and The Spirit Business. These resources provided details on the shopping and gifting behavior of Millennials. Information on what influences the Millennials' decisions was obtained though triangulation to establish the purchasing habits of Millennials and their gifting behavior.

In conclusion, there was no specific information on when and how Millennials choose to give adult beverages as gifts. However, we have included useful findings which indicate when Millennials offer wines as gifts and their purchase trends such as factors that affect their choice of purchases such as previous purchases and word of mouth reference.



25% of Millennials will give wines as gifts when they are invited for Christmas dinners. During Valentine's day, Millennials will offer alcoholic beverages such as champagne as gifts. Similarly, during holidays and family gatherings, Millennials believe that wines are the perfect gifts for such occasions.


Compared to other generations, Millennials spend $23 on alcohol beverage gifts annually. Most of them rely on staff in wine shops to help them to choose the best wines for family gatherings or to give as holiday gifts. When giving gifts, Millennials will choose costlier wines and will prefer good packaging and mini cans.

Below are factors that include the choice of adult beverages given by Millennials as gifts:
  • Previous purchase-43%
  • Word of mouth-31%
  • Personal research-20%


From Part 03
  • "They’re great guests for Christmas dinners, as they will rarely show up empty handed. 25% of them will bring a wine bottle, which is fitting for the generation known as wine lovers."
  • "An all-in celebration could cost a few times what an average person is willing to spend. Bankrate’s 2019 Be My Valentine Index shows a fancy Valentine’s Day celebration that includes chocolate, diamonds, roses, fine-dining and Champagne will cost $617.77, up by 6% from last year."
  • "These young adults do spend more than $200 a year on clothing to give as gifts, and they also like to give presents that come in a bottle: They spend $23 on gifts of alcoholic beverages, more than any other age group."
  • "Helping choose the perfect bottle of wine for a family gathering or a special bourbon for holiday gift-giving is a great way to win them over."
  • "As younger consumers mature into more sophisticated fare, they’ll need guidance. Today, a friendly, knowledgeable staff is essential to success."
  • "“If I am buying a gift for someone, like my boss I might spend more than I would on myself.”"
  • "This finding shows, these consumers may spend more on a bottle to give as a gift or for a special occasion"
  • "Younger Millennials expressed a slightly stronger preference for utilizing alternative wine packaging to give as a gift and/or when gathering with friends, such as for a girls/boys night out when compared to older respondents. "
  • " On the other hand, Millennials appear to agree that wine in this packaging would make a nice gift, be nice to bring to a party, and would be good for any occasion."
  • "However, they expressed favorable opinions about mini-cans to give as a gift (3.56), "