Vibenomics Survey: Retail Shoppers Prioritizing Price Above All Else

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Tradition, loyalty, and nostalgia have long been hallmarks of holiday shopping. Until now. According to a survey by the audio OOH advertising firm Vibenomics, inflation-weary consumers are prioritizing price above all else in holiday shopping this year. Surveying more than 1,000 consumers, the new Vibenomics survey found that 59% of shoppers plan to look for ways to save on gifts and 46% will look for low-cost options. Just one-third of shoppers said they plan to spend as they have in the past.

Those survey results contradict similar research from industry groups like the National Retail Federation, which predicted a healthy increase in spending in its holiday forecast. Last year’s holiday season was surprisingly strong, in part because many consumers were eager to return to in-store shopping after staying home in 2020. Now, with Covid having moved out of the national spotlight, inflation and recession concerns are driving consumers’ decisions on how and where to spend.

“Last year, the holidays represented a return to post-Covid normalcy for many consumers, and spending rose significantly,” says Paul Brenner, chief strategy officer and president of audio OOH at Vibenomics ​. “All signs point to a much more restrained approach to shopping this season.” 

Survey data shows consumers are doing everything they can to reduce spending. When asked to identify which factors are most likely to influence the holiday items they purchase this year, price ranked above tradition.  Although brand loyalty has steadily declined in recent years, Brenner says consumers in the past would typically show stronger loyalty to holiday brands associated with family traditions and culture. For the first time in recent memory, that’s no longer the case. “It’s surprising to see price overtake tradition, but economic worries threaten brand loyalty this season,” Brenner says.

Another surprising trend uncovered in the Vibenomics survey has to do with the anticipated size of holiday get-togethers and family gatherings. Just 26% of the respondents from the Vibenomics survey said they plan to host or attend a celebration with extended family, and only 20% with friends.

Brenner says economic concerns may keep consumers from traveling and spending time outside of their immediate households this season, and it may lead to a decrease in the number of people the average shopper buys gifts for. 

Thirty-nine percent of shoppers said they plan to cut unnecessary gifts, and 18% said they expect to reduce the number of people they shop for as a direct result of the inflation of prices.

“How will the emphasis on price manifest? Hosts might skip legacy Thanksgiving turkey or pie brands in favor of cheaper substitutes. Gift shoppers might avoid their usual high-end stores and instead seek bargains,” Brenner says. “Families could pass on expensive traditions — like elaborate light displays or gift-shopping sprees — altogether.”

Given that consumers are looking for the best deals this season and brand loyalty is no longer the driving factor, Brenner says it’s important for brands to focus their holiday messaging on sales, discounts, and other tips to save money, rather than legacy or tradition. More than 81% of shoppers say discounts or special offers will influence their holiday gift purchases, so holiday ads should lead with price offers and be empathetic to economic concerns.

“Marketers need to designate both online and in-store advertising channels to help customers find ways to save ahead of Black Friday and throughout the holiday season,” Brenner says. “Marketers should leverage Retail Media In-Store Digital channels such as display ads or audio in-store to increase brand recall and recognition.”

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.
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