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- 29 Oct 2015
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Unveiling American Luxury Shoppers' 2015 Holiday Shopping Habits


A recent survey by The Shullman Research Center has highlighted the true impact of the gender split on the luxury shopping habits of Americans stocking up for the holiday gifting season. Here, Founder & CEO Bob Shullman provides a snapshot of the results.

With autumn coming to a close, America’s retailers and the companies that supply them with the goods and services they sell are now focusing intently on the 2015 holiday shopping season.

As part of our ongoing survey of American consumers, we discovered that some of these consumers, especially those who are planning to buy luxury products or services this holiday season, had already started that shopping, with female luxury shoppers leading the way in getting an early start.

We also gained some insights about how luxury marketers will most likely fare during what has been traditionally the number-one selling season of the year.

 There are major differences in the shopping plans of the female luxury shopper compared with the male luxury shopper 

As part of the most recent wave of our survey, we polled luxury holiday shoppers about their shopping plans for the 2015 holidays (the 22% of adults — about 52 million of them — who are 18 or older and have luxury products or services on their holiday shopping lists).

When we dived into the nitty-gritty of these shoppers’ plans, what immediately caught our eyes, among the many ways we review survey results (by generation, by income levels, by wealth levels, etc.), were the major differences in the shopping plans of the female luxury shopper (16% of all American women, or about 20 million) compared with the male luxury shopper (28% of all American men, or about 32 million).


The following is what these very valuable consumers told us in total and by gender:

• One in four (26%) had already started their holiday shopping, and more of the female holiday luxury shoppers (29%) had already started their holiday shopping compared with 24% of their male counterparts.

• About half of all luxury holiday shoppers (53%) reported they planned to spend about the same as last year (48% among the men and 61% among the women), with about a third of both sexes planning to spend more than last year (36% for the men and 30% for the women). Only one in 10 in total stated that they plan to spend less than last year (15% among the men and only 2% among the women). These plans suggest to us that, when the dust settles and the holiday sales reports get published during the early months of 2016, this year’s holiday sales should be up compared with last year’s levels.

• These very valuable shoppers indicated they are planning to spend almost $1,700 each on their holiday purchases this year (about $1,850 among the men and $1,400 among the women) compared with about $900 for the average American adult. Notably, one in six (17%) of the luxury holiday shoppers — or about nine million of them — reported they plan to spend $2,500 or more on their 2015 holiday purchases (men and women were at the same level on this metric).

 Plans to shop at luxury department stores or luxury personal goods stores came in at 48% 

• Among the ten major types of shopping venues measured in this holiday shopping survey, the number one venue selected by all the holiday luxury shoppers was the online-only store (for example, Amazon or eBay), with almost six out of ten (58%) planning to shop at one or more of them. Notably, three quarters (76%) of the female shoppers and about half (47%) of the male shoppers plan to shop at one of these online-only stores. Plans to shop at luxury department stores or luxury personal goods stores came in at 48% (50% among men and 43 percent among women).

• When asked what types of gifts from a list of 21 major categories they were planning to buy, these very important shoppers chose gift cards as their number-one buy, with the almost half (47%) stating that gift cards were on their holiday shopping list. The second- and third-placed planned types of gifts were toys and personal electronics (tablets, smartphones, etc.), both at 41%.

• Designer gifts (designer clothing, accessories, cosmetics, and fragrances), when viewed as a group, were on the gift lists of two thirds (67%) of these luxury shoppers, with 75% of the women and 62% of the men choosing them.

• Finally, when asked to estimate how much of their holiday gift spending would be done online, luxury holiday shoppers averaged 41% in total, with men averaging 42% and women, 39%.

Big picture: luxury holiday shoppers differ materially depending on who is being targeted—a woman or a man. If they may not be exactly from Mars or Venus, they most certainly have different mindsets.

To further investigate the connection between consumers and luxury brands on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:_

- Decoding Asia’s Era of Young Millionaires
- Catering To America’s Affluent In 2015
- The Case For Winning Over Affluent Millennials


Bob Shullman is founder and CEO of the Shullman Research Center, a marketing research/consulting firm focused on luxury and affluent consumers.