The value of the early Christmas shopper vs the last minute purchaser

This time of year is when consumers really begin to focus their minds on what they are going to do about Christmas. Data from our Great Britain TGI survey reveals that over twice as many British adults start planning their Christmas present purchasing in September or October than across all the previous months of the year combined.

As such, the period immediately after the end of October is an absolutely key time to engage large numbers of consumers with Christmas-related messaging. Little wonder then that John Lewis has chosen early November to launch its much-anticipated Christmas advert.

Early Christmas gift purchasers tend to buy for more people and spend more...

Indeed, before the end of October, 43% of consumers (over 22 million adults) have started to plan their festive purchases. And this is a very valuable group that marketers of all kinds would do well to target. They are two-thirds more likely than the average adult to buy gifts for more than 15 people and 62% more likely to spend £800 or more on presents (11% do so).

Last-minute Christmas shoppers are more likely to buy for few people and spend little...

At the other end of the scale we have the last-minute Christmas shopper. Three and a half million adults (7% of the total adult population) only start planning their gift buying in the second half of December. The archetypal portrait of this person is a disorganised husband rushing around on Christmas Eve to get his wife and other family suitable gifts.

In fact, these last minute shoppers generally don’t need to rush much because they are far more likely to only have to buy presents for a handful of people. 39% of them are only buying for one or two individuals, making them nearly three and a half times more likely to only have to buy for this many. Nor are they spending much: over half of them spend under £100 on Christmas gifts, making them two and a half times more likely to spend so little. But yes, they are 49% more likely to be male, whilst the pre-November planners are almost a quarter more likely to be female.

The earlier shopper is more likely to have children at home, whilst the last-minute shopper is more likely to live alone...

Delving a bit deeper, the reason why the early planners generally have to buy so many presents is that they have children at home. Primary School Parents (live with son/daughter and youngest child aged 5-9) are 38% more likely to start their Christmas planning before November and Playschool Parents (live with son/daughter and youngest child 0-4) 29% more likely. On the other hand, those who don’t start until late December are over twice as likely to be Mid-life Independents (aged 35-54, not married/living as a couple and do not live with relations).

Children and competitions motivate the early purchaser...

One way to engage the early (pre-November) Christmas shopper is to appeal to their responsibility to their children. TGI data shows they are 25% more likely to agree “I always buy the brands my children prefer” and also a quarter more likely to agree “I often worry about failing my children”.

So many Christmas gifts today are purchased online and those with children represent a key target for many marketers in their online planning in the run-up to Christmas. Indeed, parents of children aged under-16 are one of the TGI data’s pre-defined targets, which enable cookie-based targeting of an offline-defined target online. As well as these parents, another popular TGI pre-defined target in the period leading up to Christmas is those who love to buy new gadgets and appliances, as they are particularly susceptible to the allure of the latest ‘must-have’ piece of tech.

Another key motivator for the early Christmas gift purchaser is that they love a competition and are 23% more likely to often enter competitions in newspapers and magazines.

A glance at some of the most prominent attitudes agreed with by the last minute Christmas shopper reveals more of a nihilist ‘humbug’ attitude. They are 34% more likely to agree that the point of drinking is to get drunk, 37% more likely to agree home décor is of no particular interest to them and 29% more likely to agree that real men don’t cry.

Magazines can be an efficient way to target the early shopper...

In terms of the most effective media to reach the earlier Christmas shopper, they are 20% more likely to agree “I cannot resist buying magazines” and indeed also 21% more likely to be amongst the heaviest fifth of magazine consumers. The last minute shopper is 34% more likely to be amongst the heaviest 20% of internet users, but be warned, they are also 22% more likely to agree “I find advertising a waste of my time”.

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