Skip to Content

The holiday season is upon us and marketers are hoping that months and months of planning will pay off, that their messages will reach the right shopper at the right moment. You’ve prepared for the Black Friday shopper, the deal seeker, the gift-card-giver. But have you prepared for increasingly thoughtful shoppers?

Thoughtful shoppers aren’t content with gift cards, or even going off a gift recipient’s wish list. Santa may get a list and check it twice, but these shoppers go the extra mile to find memorable, personalized gifts.

Why is this happening?

In our discussions with shoppers, we repeatedly came across people going above and beyond to find just the right present. In short, they want to be the best gift-giver of the season. It doesn’t come easy. “I want to buy a gift that’s so fitting for the person that I try so hard. That’s stressful,” one person said. Or as another person put it, “I like giving gifts, but I’m not sure I like buying them. I stress myself out about it.”

But they feel elation when they find it. “I had my nephew’s birthday the other week and I literally searched ‘I don’t know what to buy a kid,’ and ‘what to buy a kid,’” another person told us. “And on there was a scooter I liked and I guess he liked it too. When his mom saw it she was like OMG you got him THE scooter. … I was like ‘Yes!’”

"I want to personalize a very special gift for people,” another person told us. “It lets them know I was thinking enough about them to go the extra mile. … I want them to know it’s from me. … My type of gift-giving is that people remember it and still talk about it." He continued, “The best gift I gave … my mother called me crying, beside herself, and I knew I got a really good gift.” Thoughtful shoppers want to show their love and get sincere joy from making faces light up.

Mobile searches  in the last two years:

Thoughtful shoppers’ search behavior

Reflecting this, mobile searches for “thoughtful” gifts have grown over 150% in the past two years.1 And mobile searches for “unique gifts” have grown 110% in the past two years.2 In 2017, the term “gift” saw the highest YouTube search interest that it’s seen over the last five years.3 And in the past two years, watch time of “holiday shopping” videos have increased over 4X.4

We’re seeing some very specific searches, with shoppers hoping to find gift ideas based on the individual they’re shopping for. Mobile searches for “gifts for ___ lover(s)” have grown by over 130% in the last two years (for example, “baby gifts for music lovers,” “gifts for hawaii lovers,” and “great gifts for makeup lovers”).5 They’re also looking for the best gift based not only on the recipient but the giver as well. Think “gifts for dad from big brother,” “gifts for grandparents from grandchildren,” or “christmas gifts from kids to mom.” Mobile searches for “gifts for ___ from ____” have grown by over 140% in the past two years.6

Mobile searches in the past two years.

And, of course, there’s the hardest person of all to buy for. The one who has everything. “I am always searching ‘what to buy dad’ and searching through lists trying to get ideas because it’s really hard,” one person told us. “I just don’t feel like he really wants anything.” Mobile searches for “gifts for” + “has everything” or ”wants nothing” have grown by over 230% over the past two years.7 Examples include “gift for 3 year old boy who has everything,” “christmas gift ideas for husband who has everything,” and “gifts for the woman who wants nothing.”

How you can offer shopping assistance

Clearly, people are increasingly looking for help to find those special gifts. Whether they end up buying in stores or online, 66% of all holiday shopping last season was planned before purchase.8 In other words, people aren’t simply walking into stores and making spontaneous decisions. And 57% of shoppers say they look for helpful recommendations or suggestions for gifts.9

Here are five shopping assistance tips to reach holiday shoppers on the hunt for the perfect gift:

  • Consider highlighting the joy and fun of gifting, rather than focusing purely on the promotional. Tap into the sense of victory that comes from giving the perfect gift.
  • Create curated gift lists for dads, dog lovers, or the person who has everything.
  • Make sure your gift-related content lives beyond your site and can connect with shoppers as they search, watch, and get inspired across the web.
  • Surface your fastest moving holiday categories in gift-related searches.
  • Reach gift-buyers when they are out shopping and drive them to your store using local campaigns, mobile, bid by distance, etc.

Keep in mind that shoppers on the hunt for the right gift are open to trying new retailers if it will help them in their quest. Ultimately, the decision on where to buy these thoughtful gifts will come down to the retailers that can provide them with the best ideas and also fulfill their needs for convenience and speed during the holiday season.