All You Need Is Love

The State of Affairs

There has been a lot of data about consumer behavior this holiday shopping period. Cyber Monday turned in $10.8 billion last week, a record high…the early shopping season has tallied over 20% more in sales than last year…
The statistics are impressive. People are spending a lot of money. However, what’s going on in the mind of the consumer?  What are the real consumer-to-consumer conversations concerning holiday giving?  
As the world faces many unknowns – elections, a global pandemic, economic stress, isolation – consumer reviews show people are leaning into the holiday season. The conversations in reviews are about giving gifts of love and comfort and warmth. They are about making loved ones happy. About connection in a world that’s hard to connect in right now.

Inside the Reviews

Listen to this story as an example. It’s December 5th. A man decides to go online and shop at Bloomingdales for his wife’s Christmas present. Before making the purchase, he examined her wardrobe and looked at several different sizes of her shoes. He wanted to choose something that was both stylish and comfortable – he wanted her to love the gift.
I went out on a limb…I could not stand keeping them a secret, so I gave them to her early. From the look of her smile, she’s still in love with me.”
In other reviews we see similar story lines. A woman buying her husband a coffee thermos for work because he now has to bring hot coffee with him – the communal coffee pot at work isn’t brewing because of the pandemic. A daughter buying a pair of slippers for her mother, who lives far away. A mother going online to buy her daughter the boots she wanted last year and the excitement she feels in knowing how happy her daughter will be to open them.
“Last year out daughter wanted this boot for Christmas, but my husband and I purchased a different style. We didn’t forget her request and this will be one of her presents this year!!! So excited to see her face for Christmas!”
When we look at the most frequently used words in reviews this holiday season we see words like: Love, comfort, warmth, great, perfect. 

Heart of the Matter

So, it’s not about the product, it’s about what the product being purchased represents. In this lies a powerful marketing message for brands. A recent cover of an L.L. Bean catalogue, shows they’re on to it. Looking inside the consumer-to- consumer conversation, there is a longing for connection and happiness, despite of – or perhaps because of, the current state of affairs. So, it’s not a man giving his wife a pair of comfortable shoes – he’s giving her warmth and happiness. The same goes for the woman buying her husband a new thermos for his hot coffee. She’s buying him warmth, love and convenience. 
The statistics also back this up. When we look at the sentiment score across reviews that talk about holiday shopping, it is 96% all-positive. That’s 10% higher than the average for all reviews we’ve collected since the beginning of November.
People may not be feeling good about gathering for the holidays, but they are excited to give to their loved ones and they are having conversations about it in reviews.