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In an always-connected world, consumer electronics brands have endless opportunities to forge stronger customer connections — especially during the all-important holiday shopping season. Tech devices consistently top the gift list, ranking as one of the top five most purchased gift categories each of the past two years.1

Icons of green shopping bag, smartphone with blue bow, and a Google Home. Text reads: Tech devices have ranked as one of the top five most purchased gift categories each of the past two years.

For a thorough look at this important category, Google partnered with research firm LRWGreenberg to better understand the behaviors of today’s tech consumer and how brands can influence their purchase decisions.

Our research shows that, for consumer electronics brands that want to be top of mind, it is not enough to be top shelf. Brands cannot rely on retailers alone to forge connections with consumers. With tech shoppers spending 74% of their time researching online versus 26% offline,2 tech brands should be present and influence consumer choice across the entire customer journey. Here are three ways to help marketers do just that.

Influence early

While digital channels make it easier to purchase at the last minute, our data shows that holiday shoppers actually start early. In fact, last year nearly 40% of people began their holiday shopping in October3 with nearly half of fourth-quarter consumer electronics searches happening before Thanksgiving.4

Not only that, nearly half of today’s consumer electronics shoppers begin their shopping journey having decided what brand to buy.5 This suggests brands that want to be in the consideration set need to build awareness and forge connections with people before Black Friday even hits.

Influence often

Fifty-three percent of consumer electronics shoppers are open to influence by brands other than the one they bought.6 Plus today, compared with 2015, people are taking longer than ever to make their purchase decisions — nine days longer on average to be exact.7 Why? The shopping journey is not linear, and people are often reconfirming information they looked up weeks ago.

Price is cited as the No.1 reason why undecided tech shoppers stop considering a brand.8 And that means brands without strong consumer connections are at risk of letting Black Friday price wars determine purchase decisions.

Calendar icon with small green shopping cart icon overlay. Text reads: Only 18% of holiday shoppers consolidate shopping to the Black Friday-to-Cyber Monday period.

To avoid this, brands should consider an always-on strategy that allows them to capture demand when someone decides they’re ready to shop and buy. Brands that consolidate efforts to key shopping days miss out on the full opportunity, as only 18% of holiday shoppers consolidate shopping to the Black Friday-to-Cyber Monday period.9

GoPro has seen success with this strategy. “We aim to keep our brand top of mind all season long,” said GoPro CMO Todd Ballard. “Leading up to the holidays, we expand our reach with product campaigns via shoppable ads on YouTube. Last year, the platform helped us create brand excitement and increased purchase intent.”

Influence everywhere

While it’s important for brands to influence people early and often, where and how brands choose to do so has critical implications.

For example, tech shoppers that purchase in stores spend 68% of their research time online and 57% of that time is spent on mobile. Brands with mobile-first experiences — fast loading pages, clear calls to action, and minimal steps in the conversion path — are primed for success. Also, features such as guest checkout and autofill forms can add substantial value.

Icon of smartphone being used by brown hands with pink fingernails. Text reads: 2X more tech purchases were made on mobile devices in 2019 than in 2015.

Mobile is not just a research tool. Increasingly, it is also the method of purchase, with 2X more tech purchases made on mobile devices in 2019 (24%) versus 2015 (7%).11 Smart speakers, smartwatches, wireless headphones, and wireless speakers are among the top consumer electronic devices purchased on a mobile phone, whereas gaming consoles, smartphones, and smart TVs are still typically purchased in stores.12

Online video can be another influential tool for engaging high-value shoppers. Along with tech review sites, online video is among the most influential information sources in consumer electronics shopping.13

Tech shoppers who use online video to inform their decision-making spend, on average, 21% more on tech devices than shoppers who don’t use online video.14 Plus, we know that online video is used as a research tool throughout the purchase process, with 50% of shoppers saying they used online videos while actually shopping in stores.15

While the holiday shopping season is the biggest moment of the year for consumer tech, marketers have the opportunity to forge connections each and every day. Brands that influence early and often, regardless of medium, increase their chances for success.