Survey: Americans Plan to Spend More on Gifts This Year and Now Spend More Time Streaming

Survey Reveals Dramatic Impact of Pandemic on Consumer Holiday Shopping Priorities and Content Consumption

Roku, Inc. announced findings from its 2020 Holiday Consumer Shopping study in partnership with The Harris Poll, offering new insights into the rapidly evolving U.S. consumer shopping landscape as the country heads towards its first holiday season since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The findings of the survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults also offers a deep look at consumers’ shopping priorities and their shifting media consumption habits to help guide marketing campaigns this holiday season.

“The findings of the 2020 survey demonstrate significant shifts since the COVID-19 pandemic in Americans’ attitudes towards gift-giving, the way they will shop compared to previous holiday seasons, and how their adoption of TV streaming is affecting their purchasing decisions,” said Roku Chief Marketing Officer Matthew Anderson. “Importantly, how consumers are making their buying decisions and executing actual purchases are undergoing important changes – 85 percent of Americans now stream, and for the first time ever, a majority of U.S. adults report that they now spend more time streaming than they do watching traditional TV. These fundamental changes highlight that now is the time for marketers to consider significant realignments of their advertising investments in order to reach consumers this holiday season and beyond.”

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Pandemic’s Impact on Consumer Holiday Shopping Attitudes and Strategies

The 2020 survey highlights key shifts in how surveyed consumers plan to shop this holiday season.

  • Economic Outlook Will Drive Spending – While Americans are evenly split on their views about the future of the economy, 7 in 10 of those surveyed plan to spend the same or more on gifts this year. Overall, consumers expect to spend a total of $885 dollars on average this year on holiday purchases, up approximately 2.5% from last year’s survey.
  • Less Travel, More Gift-Giving – Nearly one-third of shoppers (31%) report that they plan to buy more gifts for more people this year because of sheltering in place rules that will bar them from visiting with family and friends.
  • More WFH-Related Purchases – Nearly one-third (31%) plan to buy a gift to support working from home for either themselves or someone else. Furthermore, as more families spend time at home streaming, many shoppers also report planning to pick up a new television this year with smart TVs topping the gift-giving (and getting) list of many shoppers. In fact, 41% of Americans surveyed say they plan to buy a new TV.
  • “Virtual” Shopping Surge – With COVID-19 fueling concerns about in-person shopping, consumers now expect to do nearly two-thirds (65%) of their holiday shopping virtually. Streamers are fueling this surge in online shopping: 79% will do most of their holiday shopping online compared to 55% of non-streamers who plan to conduct most of their shopping digitally.

“Despite all of the uncertainty we see in the world today, this report highlights the fact that consumers plan to shop significantly this holiday season, they plan to buy more gifts for more people and they plan to do so on their own terms. The findings provide a clear blueprint for marketers seeking to engage shoppers during what will be a season of TV streaming. Most shoppers are now primary streamers with nearly 1 in 3 having already cut the cord according to Roku’s 2020 Cord Cutting survey. Advanced marketers are adapting their advertising strategies to meet their consumer where they now spend the majority of their time watching content – streaming,” concluded Anderson.

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“Season of Streaming” For Holiday Shoppers

According to the survey results, 2020 truly kicked off the decade of streaming in America with 85% of US consumers now streaming.

  • Every Demographic Streams: With more than eight in 10 Americans reporting they are streamers, the demographic diversity of streaming is mainstream in 2020. For example, 96% of Millennials, as well as 72% of Baby Boomers, cited themselves as streamers in this year’s report.
  • Streaming Overtakes Traditional Pay TV Viewing: For the first time in the survey’s history, Americans now report spending more time streaming than watching traditional pay TV. Importantly, the growth in streaming is not additive to overall viewing time. Average reported streaming hours increased 19% year over year while average traditional TV viewing hours decreased 13% according to the survey results.
  • OTT Advertising Drives Purchase: Not only are Americans streaming, but they are also consuming a significant amount of advertising-supported streaming content that is reshaping how brands should think about the traditional TV advertising path to purchase. 43% of consumers (and 2/3rds of Millennials) surveyed now report having seen an ad on a streaming service that caused them to pause the content, go online, and shop for the product they encountered.

“We have arrived at a tipping point for the future of TV as we know it where a future involving 50% or fewer households subscribing to traditional pay TV is now realistic in the short-term,” said Abbey Lunney, Director of Trends and Thought Leadership at The Harris Poll. “This shift to streaming, in combination with other consumer insights into the new path to purchase, demonstrate how marketers need to adjust their engagement strategies, not just for the 2020 holiday season, but for the future long term.”

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