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New Study Shows Americans Will Be Spending Even More Time Online This Holiday Season

Over half of Americans will spend more time browsing the web and watching TV over the coming holiday period, according to new research from Unruly and Tremor Video.

The study, carried out in September, found that 51% of Americans plan to watch more TV over the winter season, 58% plan to spend more time browsing the web and 34% plan to spend more time playing video games.

With the holidays just around the corner – but with the global pandemic still having a significant impact on people’s lives – this year’s festive celebrations are going to be very different.

To help brands navigate this new festive landscape, Unruly, in partnership with sister brand Tremor Video, conducted research into consumers’ shopping behaviors and content viewing habits this holiday season, as well as to gauge their enthusiasm for the upcoming season amid the backdrop of the Coronavirus.

The research also found that more Americans than last year plan to do their Christmas shopping online this year, with over three-quarters of US consumers planning to do at least half of their shopping digitally during the 2020 holiday season.

With more eyeballs on screens and a surge in online shopping, it’s never been more important for brands to get their holiday campaigns right, but how can advertisers ensure they’re hitting the right tone with consumers?

Just think about some of last year’s biggest holiday ads. A spot from snack brand Walkers saw Mariah Carey performing to a packed studio; Amazon’s ad saw Americans preparing for Christmas in a variety of locations, including a busy office and a packed Christmas market; and Apple’s festive offering featured a family travelling across the US by plane, running through a packed airport terminal to visit a relative.

Ads like these just don’t make sense in the world we now find ourselves in.

Although the narrative of many of this year’s festive ads will look very different to any other year, we wanted to find out if consumers are looking for brands to make them feel any different.

The research found that this year consumers will be looking for advertisers to make them feel happy during the holidays, with 57% of respondents saying they’d like this year’s festive spots to cheer them up. This was followed by warmth (40%), inspiration (35%) and nostalgia (30%).

It’s interesting to note that these emotions are what we’d normally expect from holiday ads. From research we carried out last year, we know that consumers watching Christmas ads on average report a 35% increase in intense positive emotions compared with the average, and that consumers are 86% more likely to feel intense happiness after watching festive ads.

Although the usual festive offering is not going to work, it’s clear that US consumers still want this year’s ads to make them feel how they usually do during the holidays, so sticking with the same emotional palette is going to be key.

If brands can get this balance right it could mean huge uplifts across key business metrics, including purchase intent and brand recall, and a chance to get in front of new customers, who are spending more time in front of their screens, due to the winter weather and continued lockdown restrictions.

To access all the findings from this year’s holiday consumer survey, click here.