Facebook study finds many holiday shoppers turn to mobile

Dive Brief:

  • The share of online purchases made on mobile devices increased 33% in the holiday season last year over the same period the year before, according to research from Facebook IQ that crunched Facebook and Instagram data from November through January.

  • In the U.S., users on average posted 30% more photos, text and videos during the holidays, and 84% of those came from mobile devices, according to the Ipsos study of holiday shopping habits and attitudes that included 21,511 people ages 18-plus across 17 countries.

  • While 49% of people previously surveyed in August 2015 had said they planned to do most of their shopping before Black Friday and 12% planned to get it done by October, the survey found that 61% said they’re “last-minute” shoppers: half said they do most of their shopping in December, and about a quarter said they are “spontaneous” shoppers.

Dive Insight:

There’s a lot of good news for Facebook in this research. It’s not clear how the questions were phrased or what might have been left out of the report, but, in any case, it’s no surprise that a study paid for by Facebook leans Facebook-positive.

Still, the results do bolster other research that shows mobile as an increasingly significant shopping channel — even if purchases aren’t always the end result on those devices.

Mobile shopping in general is up dramatically, with 44% of smartphone users saying they bought using their device this year, up from 41% a year ago, according to a survey from United Parcel Service and comScore released last month

Other findings from Facebook may not be all that surprising, either, like the fact that adults between the ages of 18 and 34 were more than twice as likely than older ones to mention Facebook as a shopping resource at the holidays. But it’s nevertheless a key finding for marketers aiming for that key demographic.

"I think that one of the recurring themes we can see year over year is the increased use of mobile in the holiday season and the holiday shopping season in particular," Ann Mack, Facebook's head of content and activation, told Ad Week.

The social media portals also serve as key to millennials’ tendency to seek out advice from friends: Mobile shoppers are 1.7 times more likely to turn to Facebook for gift inspiration and 3.6 times more likely to turn to crowdsourcing gift ideas on Facebook. Millennials are 4.5 times more likely than people of other generations to reach out to friends on Instagram (also owned by Facebook); mobile shoppers were twice as likely, according to the survey.

Finally, 34% of mobile shoppers demonstrated a good amount of patience with their devices, returning to try again later when font size, cell reception or screen optimization failed them.

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Filed Under: Marketing