Russia’s biggest holiday is the New Year, followed a week later by Orthodox Christmas. The shopping season essentially begins in November and continues through to the New Year. Increasingly, Russians have been turning to the Internet for their holiday shopping, and that is a trend that his blog post will delve into. This blog explores the ins and outs of New Year shopping in Russia in 2015, examining data ranging from the demographics of those shopping online to what it is they’re looking to find. The data in question comes from two major reports on the online shopping intentions of Russian consumers this holiday season, one from PayPal and GFK and the other from Promokodabra, as well as supplemental information from Yandex search trends.
Demographics and Behaviors of Holiday Shoppers
As Internet penetration grows in Russia, so too does the number of consumers turning to the Internet for their holiday shopping. The PayPal/GFK study revealed that 65% of respondents use the Internet for buying gifts, and the Promokodabra report showed that about 66% of their respondents intended to use the Internet for their holiday shopping. There is some variation among the use of Internet shopping between men and women, though it is popular among both genders. Promokodabra’s study revealed that women were twice as likely as men to shop online, though the PayPal/GFK report indicated that men are more likely to wait until the last minute to do their holiday shopping online.
The intended recipients of gifts bought online does not change much compared to those bought from physical storefronts, as family and friends remain the most popular people to purchase for. PayPal/GFK’s study noted some surprising trends though, such as 40.4% of respondents turning to the Internet to buy holiday gifts for themselves and almost 14% of shoppers using the web for gifts for their pets. For those looking for signs of Russia’s embrace of consumerism, there are few better examples than people buying gifts for their pets!
In addition to who Russians are buying their gifts for, both reports delved into what it was that these recipients want most for the holidays. The PayPal/GFK study found that there were significant variation between what men and women want this year. By far, the most popular desired items among men are electronics, followed by sporting goods in a distant second. Women are partial to cosmetics and beauty products, and they are also interested in electronics, though at less than half the rate of men. Promokodabra compared what men and women want most as well, but also asked what they are planning on buying. For example, almost 30% of responding men want a smartphone, but just 11.5% of women plan on buying them as gifts. Only 3.5% of men are interested in cosmetics/shaving items as a gift for themselves, yet over 35% of women will buy cosmetics or perfume as a gift.
How Russians are Holiday Shopping Online
Online shopping in Russia has received a great boost from the proliferation of Internet-enabled mobile devices in recent years. More than 56% of respondents to the PayPal/GFK survey had used a smartphone or tablet to buy gifts at least once. Mobile shopping is especially popular among younger Russians, as over 63% of those aged 18-25 reported buying gifts from a mobile device. This is not to say that mobile shopping is unheard of among older Russians. Though consumers aged 45-66 used mobile devices to do their shopping less often than younger Russians, the survey found that over half of this group had bought gifts via smartphone or tablet. As mentioned in a previous post, the older generation in Russia is becoming increasingly engaged with the Internet, so this proportion should only grow in years to come.
We should expect to see online holiday shopping grow among all demographics in Russia in the near future. Statistics collected by Promokodabra reveal that there was a dramatic increase in the number of Russians planning to do their New Year shopping online between 2014 and 2015. In 2014, 52% of respondents were still planning on doing their shopping offline, with a minority planning on buying gifts online. Just a year later, nearly two-thirds of respondents were planning on doing their New Year shopping online. While a plurality of shoppers are using the Internet to both browse and shop, 14.2% of respondents use the Internet for comparison shopping, and then buy products in the store.
In the United States, the holiday shopping season is generally considered to begin in late November and end on Christmas (or after, if one considers the flurry of returns). Though Russia’s major holidays fall in January, the Russian shopping season is relatively similar to this, in the sense that most of the shopping occurs in December. Promokodabra found that more than half of respondents plan on doing their holiday shopping this year in December, though the next largest group will wait until the week before New Year’s. This is not to say that Russian shoppers wait until the last minute to do their shopping. Almost 32% of respondents plan on doing their holiday shopping in November, on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, or throughout the year.
Russians are using the Internet more to do their holiday shopping but many still go to stores to buy gifts. A third of Russian holiday shoppers (the majority) turn to the Internet for gift ideas and to make these purchases. While 14% search online but then purchase in stores. A lot of this behavior could be due to shipping times and Russians still trusting the eCommerce process.
Top Categories for Holiday Shopping in Russia
Yandex analysts confirmed that Russian shopping habits haven’t changed much over the last year. The same categories and items for the Russian holiday shopping period prove to have similar numbers as they did last season. The following list indicates where a lot of the holiday shopping traffic is going this shopping season. Users are preparing for a new season of sportswear and winter activities in addition to planning their holiday parties. Aside from these categories, electronics proves to be one of the most important searches during the holiday season in Russia.
We can also get an idea of what the most popular gift items this season will be from the top products on Yandex.Market in December. As noted above, electronics are highly sought after for the holidays, and the most popular items on Yandex.Market reflect this. Of the ten most popular products, nine are consumer electronics. There are four Apple devices among these ten; the iPhone 6, 6S, iPad Mini, and MacBook. A television, two cameras, the PS4, and a coffee maker round out the electronics on the list. The only item among the most popular that is not a consumer electronic is a washing machine.
From party prep to gift searching, the Internet is becoming the most widely used platform for users in Russia to research and purchase what they need for the holiday season. As the Russian users get used to online reliance, it will be increasingly important to market around their patterns, behavior, and device choice to reach and convert as many users as possible.