December 3rd, 2020

Tapjoy’s Modern Mobile Gamer: 2020 Holiday Consumer Research

2020 Holiday Trends Hero


2020 has been an uncertain time for all of us, but one thing that hasn’t changed is our need to embrace the holidays. We surveyed 8,000 mobile consumers to understand what the holiday season holds. We learned that while the ways we celebrate will have to change, the drive to be festive with loved ones remains the same. Across the board — from parents and women to Gen Z — consumers are excited to buy gifts for their friends and loved ones this year.

Read on to learn what else we found out about consumers’ expected spending and gift-giving plans for 2020 — and how advertisers can adjust their strategies to match consumer expectations in the new normal.

Big picture trends

Consumers are well aware that holiday celebrations will need to change in 2020, with approximately 83% of respondents acknowledging that the festive season will likely look different this year. The main reason for the difference is that most people will only be gathering in small groups of people, with many people limiting travel and only gathering with immediate family members who live in the same household.

To compensate for the lack of in-person celebrations, many people will be sending more gifts than usual to people they can’t visit with face-to-face, and they’ll be celebrating virtually through technologies such as Zoom and FaceTime.

Yet, for all the challenges of the year, two-thirds of consumers — 66% — are enthusiastic about the upcoming holiday season. They most look forward to activities such as connecting with family and friends, gift-giving, and festive eating and drinking, in that order.

Advertisers would be smart to consider these changes to consumers’ holiday plans in their advertising messages and promotional offers. By speaking directly to consumers’ general concern, longing for connection, and deep-rooted optimism, advertisers will be able to engage them on an emotional level.

Spending trends

Even if they can’t see all of their friends and loved ones this holiday season, most consumers insist they won’t let that stop them from showing their affection through gifts. A total of 76% of respondents say they will purchase holiday gifts this year, including 85% of women and 93% of moms.

Most consumers — 61% — say they plan to spend up to or more than last year’s gift-giving budget. The average budget will increase 24% over last year, driven mostly by female Gen Z shoppers who plan to spend an average of 31% more on gifts this year than they did last year. When asked why, most consumers say it’s because they saved money during the pandemic. Others say they expect to take advantage of holiday sales and special deals or simply indulge more than usual this year, respectively.

Of course, with the economy struggling and many Americans out of work, 29% of respondents said they expect to spend less on their holiday budgets this year. Most cited that celebrations will be smaller because of the pandemic or expressed a desire to be more conscious of how much money they spend. Others said that over the year, they expended their savings due to personal circumstances.

Purchasing trends

With the pandemic making a surge across the country and many retail outlets remaining closed or with limited availability, consumer purchasing habits will inevitably change. Most consumers say they will primarily shop online and have items delivered to their homes so that they can make fewer in-person trips to the store and avoid the crowds.

While many respondents will take advantage of Black Friday sales, most intend to do so online. As such, we project digital and mobile e-commerce sales will rise as consumers seek out online shopping channels. More specifically:

  • 63% of respondents will primarily or exclusively conduct holiday shopping online, including 80% of mothers
  • Almost 75% of consumers will shop from their mobile devices, whether through an app or mobile browser
  • 70% of women intend to shop for Black Friday deals compared to 60% of overall respondents.

Where consumers go, ad spend will follow. Advertisers should plan for channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Google to become increasingly competitive and expensive. For brands that want to cut through the online noise this holiday season, testing alternative, highly trafficked mobile channels will be key.

Mobile trends

With so many consumers turning to mobile shopping channels, it’s crucial for advertisers to precisely understand how consumers engage with mobile content. For Tapjoy’s audience, it’s clear that mobile gaming represents the most significant return for reaching and converting audiences:

  • 77% of all respondents play mobile games daily, with 63% playing three different games every week!
  • 67% of respondents will spend over one-hour playing mobile games each day during the holidays. This metric shows a 19% increase from responses in 2019.
  • 61% of consumers view at least one rewarded ad each day. What’s more, 44% say rewarded ads directly influence their holiday purchasing decisions.

Given this interest, it’s the right time for marketers to test in-app Cost Per Action ads. This format allows marketers to pay only for completed conversions. You can customize the conversion point to suit your desired action — target completed transactions, subscription sign-ups, and more. Here’s what our partners have to say about the CPA model:

“The CPA method of bidding is completely unique to Tapjoy. It allows you to play only for completed purchases, so it was a no-brainer for us. We have the benefits of brand awareness within the app, but also the unique offering of rewards for users to purchase MANSCAPED products.” – Jessica Carlson, Paid Media Manager, MANSCAPED

Jessica’s team witnessed the power of CPA ads first-hand — MANSCAPED’s campaign drove 120K+ first-time purchases. The company reached US profitability and embarked on an international expansion. Check out the full story here.

As with any new growth channel, we recommend starting with a test. Our mobile strategists are standing by to help you with planning and execution. Reach out to the team to get your holiday test up and running.


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