Holiday shoppers going social, mobile

Consumers plan to increasingly use social media and cell phones to help them find the right gifts for the holidays, a Deloitte survey shows.

Correction at 7:25 a.m. PST November 12: This article incorrectly stated the percentages of consumers planning to use social media and mobile phones to assist in their holiday shopping. Seventeen percent of consumers who were surveyed plan to use social media to help them shop, and 19 percent plan to use their mobile phones.

If you're looking for just the right gift for Aunt Sally, you may find yourself turning to social networks and your mobile phone this holiday-shopping season.

More consumers expect that these two aspects of technology will help lead the way this year, according to a recent survey from consulting firm Deloitte.

Deloitte, which surveyed more 10,000 consumers for its 24th annual holiday-shopping survey, drillled down on technology's effect on buying habits by releasing new statistics on Wednesday.

The survey found that 17 percent of consumers plan to use social media during the holidays. Of that 17 percent chunk, 53 percent plan to use social media to research gift ideas, 52 percent intend to check the wish lists of relatives and friends on social networks, and 60 percent plan to hunt for discounts and sales using social networks.

Mobile phones are also becoming a tool for bargain-hungry shoppers.

Among those surveyed, 19 percent plan to use their mobile phones to assist in holiday shopping. Of that 19 percent chunk, 55 percent expect to use their phones to find store locations, 45 percent to research prices, 40 percent to seek product information, 32 percent to find discounts, and 25 percent to buy a holiday gift.

The good, old Internet still rates as a top spot for holiday shoppers, with 22 percent saying they'll shop primarily online this year and 44 percent expecting to use a coupon they find online.

Online research is big for key purchases, with 39 percent saying they read reviews of stores or products written by other consumers and 34 percent indicating that such online reviews influence their buying decisions more than advertising.

The relationship between brick-and-mortar stores and their Web sites seems to be symbiotic. Among those questioned, 65 percent said they've purchased an item online after finding it in a store or catalog, while 78 percent said they've bought a product in a store after seeing it on the store's site.

"Consumers are turning to mobile, online and social media during their entire holiday shopping experience," Stacy Janiak, a Deloitte vice chairman, said in a statement. "Retailers should consider harnessing this activity to turn browsers into buyers with one-click access to coupons, promotions and purchasing tools. This year's leaner in-store inventories may also open the door for retailers to lure customers to their online channels where it is easier to access inventory, no matter where it is located."

Commissioned by Deloitte, the survey was conducted online by an independent research firm between September 24 and October 2 and included responses from 10,878 consumers.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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