The holiday season may seem far off but new data released by Rakuten Marketing has revealed that 48% of shoppers have already begun buying presents for the holidays.

The survey asked more than 6,000 consumers in eight markets across America, Europe and APAC. It’s good news for the fashion industry – the survey found that 57% of UK shoppers are looking to make fashion purchases this holiday season, which is 6% above the global average.

Drawing on the results, it seems that gift shopping is now very much a borderless activity, with Europe being the most popular choice for international customers (40%).

In comparison, 66% of US gift shoppers are solely focused on buying from within the US. With 57% of Singapore-based shoppers looking to buy gifts from the US and 66% of China-based shoppers keen to buy gifts from Europe, marketers in these regions must be acutely aware of the need to engage with audiences with distinct languages and channel preferences.

Taking this into account, brands have lots to gain by targeting international shoppers. For example, when purchasing for their partners, Chinese shoppers will spend on average 193% more than their British counterparts.

When is too early?

When looking at how early holiday shopping begins, it’s clear that consumers in the US and Europe make slower progress on average than other markets, with three in five consumers yet to start shopping in July. This is in comparison to their shopping counterparts in the APAC region – 80% of China-based respondents shared that they had started looking by July.

“Marketers must keep an open mind about when consumers will be looking to buy gifts as the reality doesn’t follow archetypes or publicised trends. It’s time to go beyond the traditional demographic understanding of your customers and uncover new opportunities,” commented Anthony Capano, managing director of Europe at Rakuten Marketing.

Influencing global gift shoppers

When seeking to reach global gift shoppers, it seems that influencer marketing is an essential route to market in APAC and is a hot focus for brands during the sales period.

A fifth of Korean and a quarter of Singaporean shoppers state that influencer videos provide the best deals – this rises to as much as 30% in China.

In contrast, just 11% of UK-based shoppers said they would use YouTube and the influencer content posted there to spot the best deals; in the UK, influencers are best deployed as brand awareness tools. The research found that 25% of UK consumers will be using discount and voucher partners to find deals instead.

Adding another measurement challenge for UK advertisers, 59% of global respondents stated they are planning to conduct their gift shopping in shopping centres. In European markets, 23% of French and 21% of German shoppers think the best deals they find will be on the high street.

In light of this, tracking campaigns across the entire user journey will be key – regardless of channel. This understanding will allow marketers to strengthen performance in order to provide a better customer experience overall both online and offline.

“Bearing in mind over two-thirds of shoppers in the UK and US aren’t prepared to make on-the-spot decisions as far as buying gifts is concerned, the best ads will know where the customer is on their journey to purchase,” added Capano.

“Heightened demand so early in the year is an exciting prospect but figuring out whether products are being purchased as gifts, where in the world the demand is coming from and identifying the local nuances they should be aware of will be key for marketers looking to capitalise on gift shopping for success.”