Applause Global Survey Finds 81% Plan to Change Holiday Spending Due to the Impact of Inflation and Financial Instability

Pricing and digital performance influence consumer choices this holiday season

Boston, Massachusetts - November 15, 2023

Applause, a world leader in testing and digital quality, today announced the 2023 results of its fourth annual global survey on holiday shopping trends. The survey found that consumers are exhausted after a year of historically high inflation. Whether shopping online or in-store, price is by far the most critical factor influencing purchases this holiday season.

The survey took place in October 2023 with 5,500 respondents from the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. Additional key findings include:

  • 44% are prioritizing price, compared to 32% in 2022.

  • 72% said they plan to make the most of sales and discounts.

  • 59% said they plan to target deal days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

  • Most respondents are looking for at least a 30% discount.

“Consumer behavior is shifting because of inflation and uncertain financial times. Shoppers are looking for deals, doing more research, and considering different, more convenient options to maximize the value of every dollar spent,” said Luke Damian, chief growth officer with Applause. “Consumers are looking for lower cost channels and alternatives, and brand loyalty is being eroded by pricing pressure. How retailers respond and deliver seamless shopping experiences will determine the winners and losers this holiday season.”

Brand loyalty losing to pricing pressure

Just how acute is the pricing pressure on retailers? According to survey respondents, at a minimum, most are looking for a 30% discount.

  • 57% are willing to shop at more affordable brands.

  • 33% plan to spend less on gifts.

  • 24% plan on spending less on themselves or their family.

  • 19% will buy more second-hand products.

Online and omnichannel shopping trends

Regarding preferred digital shopping methods, 68% said they prefer using a mobile device, up from 61% last year. Only 30% prefer online shopping via desktop or laptop.

The digital experience is critical for online shopping, and consumers have made it clear that they have little patience for poor experiences. When asked at what point in the online shopping experience they were most likely to abandon a purchase if they encountered a technical bug, 27% responded they would leave the purchase if they met bugs at any point of the shopping experience, closely followed by 25% during the checkout process.

Consumer patience with omnichannel is similar. 60% say they are either likely or very likely to use an option like curbside pickup, click and collect, or buy online, pick-up in-store. While 44% say they are likely to leave a brand with a poor omnichannel experience, 34% are still determining, suggesting the quality of omnichannel experiences can play a large role in customer retention.

Attitudes towards AI-powered chatbots are more positive; 40% believe they add genuine value to shopping experiences, while only 24% find them gimmicky. However, 36% are unsure how they feel about chatbots.

Digital payment trends

Globally, for the first time since the inaugural survey in 2020, debit card (29%) is the preferred payment method, followed by credit card (27%), mobile wallet (16%), cash (14%), and digital payment service (Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, etc. 12%). Also notably this year, the preference for credit cards has decreased in North America from 56% in 2022 to 50% in 2023.

“It’s easy enough for shoppers to search for the best deals, and as the survey shows, they’re motivated to do that. It will be critical for retailers to effectively communicate and process discounts and points, especially with their loyal customers. With 27% of respondents saying they would abandon a shopping experience at any point if they encounter a technical bug, delivering flawless digital experiences is a must for vendors who want to compete and win this holiday season,” added Applause’s Luke Damian.

About Applause

Applause is a world leader in testing and digital quality. Brands today win or lose customers through digital interactions, and Applause delivers authentic feedback on the quality of digital assets and experiences, provided by real users in real-world settings. Our disruptive approach harnesses the power of the Applause platform and leverages the uTest community of more than one million independent digital testers worldwide. Unlike traditional testing methods (including lab-based and offshoring), Applause responds with the speed, scale and flexibility that digital-focused brands require and expect. Applause provides insightful, actionable testing results that can directly inform go/no go release decisions, helping development teams build better and faster, and release with confidence. Digital-first brands rely on Applause as a best practice to deliver the digital experiences their customers love.

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