While the rest of us are scrambling to finish up our Christmas shopping, most Russians are just now getting to their holiday shopping lists and party preparation. Traditionally, the holiday season kicks off in December but carries on well into mid-January. A small Catholic population celebrates Christmas on the 25th of December but the majority of Russia celebrates Orthodox Christmas on January 7th and 8th. Russians celebrate with friends and family by enjoying a big meal, attending religious services, and exchanging small gifts.
The big gift-giving day and major celebrations happen a week prior to Christmas on New Year’s Eve and Day. In Russia, the New Year really gets wrapped into the Christmas spirit. A traditional Western Christmas tree is also a symbol of the New Year in Russia and holiday carnivals and parties aren’t just about Christmas but the New Year as well. Partially, these celebrations are a result of New Year being a major holiday during Soviet times.
Russians put a lot of emphasis on getting in the holiday spirit. This makes December a big e-Commerce month as shoppers turn to the Internet to get decorations, party supplies, and presents. Yandex analysts recently collected and analyzed data on search trends for the 2014 holiday shopping period. The biggest take away from this data is the cultural aspect of the Russian holiday season. Sure, everyone would like an iPhone 6, it was one of the most popular 2014 search queries on Yandex but Russians spend more time getting into the holiday spirit and giving each other very Russian gifts.
Already ahead of you on the next question. Does that mean everyone gets a bottle of vodka? No, it means Russians give each other seasonal gifts for things that people in Russia would really appreciate and use. There is a lot to consider when it comes to the holiday season and cultural behavior. For example, tea is probably not a hot item for this year’s holiday gifts in the US but given the amount of tea Russians drink, it is a welcome and thoughtful gift for most people.
Russia’s Holiday Shopping Period Trends:
The above search queries show a significant increase during the time period leading up to the holidays. A portion of the queries are dedicated to decorations and preparing for holiday parties. As expected, users are also searching for gifts for family and friends and outfits to wear to holiday events.
In comparison to the rest of the year, Christmas trees obviously have the biggest change in impressions. The keyword is somewhat of a surprising search term for something users would likely buy in person and not from an online retailer. December also sees a significant increase in queries for gifts, toys, and carnival suits.
Lego stands out as the major brand for December 2014. Combining the English brand Lego and the Russian transliteration лего, there were over 5 million searches for Lego in the last month. Users are searching for the Lego computer game, the actual toys themselves, and the Lego movie. In addition to Lego standing out, there are clear changes related to holiday prep for parties and generic terms for gifts.
Holiday Preparations and Decorations:
Russians shop online to prepare for holiday parties and festivities, including decorations. Almost 85% of queries for the Russian Snow Maiden, equivalent of Santa, happen during the month of December. Still the regular Santa still makes waves in Russia too, with a query increase of 1623.67%. Fireworks are a big item and part of the holiday celebrations in Russia, which increases the search query for fireworks by 500% in December.
Tickets to Holiday Events:
Leading up to the New Year, users actively search for tickets to holiday cultural events like shows and theatrical performances. October to December proves to be the biggest time period for search queries on cultural events. Yandex handles half of their overall search queries in this category throughout these months.
Clothing is always a popular gift item but Russians search for clothes that will keep them warm this winter season. Second to costumes for holiday carnivals, Russians are searching for thermal underwear during December. Duh, it’s cold! In addition to wearing thermal underwear, many Russian women also wear stockings underneath their pants during the winter months to stay toasty.
Culturally, it is completely unacceptable to go outside in the winter without a hat on. It isn’t a major surprise that the item lands at the top of the list for fashion related gifts. Fur coats are also commonly seen around Russia in the winter, especially on women. Again, searches these are searches may be a little less expected outside Russia.
Health and Beauty:
Skin care sets are clearly the hot item for Russian women this Christmas. Traditionally, Russians visit the banya, otherwise known as a Russian spa, during the winter to rejuvenate and keep their skin healthy. Women bring their own skin care products to the spa, which they apply multiple times during the standard 3 hour bathing and relaxing ritual between trips into the actual sauna.
Jewelry is also a popular gift for many Russians during the holidays. Broaches, necklaces, and jewelry sets make up the top three most popular search queries for online shopping during the holiday season. I mean, I think it goes without saying jewelry will always win out as a popular gift item. You really can’t go wrong in this department.
Winter Gear for Outdoor Activities:
Russians really enjoy outdoor activities during the winter, making sports equipment great gifts! Sledding and snow skiing are clearly the most popular winter sports. Search queries for skis and accessories really jump during December months as many are prepping for the ski season.
Books & Literature:
Books are truly one of the most popular gift items for Russian children. Over 40% of search queries for young children’s literature are entered during the holiday shopping period. Online advertisers see their impressions for book related ads spike during this period.
Some turn to the Internet to buy gifts that fit into a tight holiday budget. Sometimes a less expensive gift is appropriate to wish someone a happy holiday as well. Yandex analysts took this into consideration and included a category for the most popular affordable gifts of 2014. There are actually several websites for night-lights that include animal figurines, flowers, and cars, making the item a great gift for children. Given the big tea-drinking culture in Russia, it’s not a surprise to see fruit teas make this list.
Whether it’s a book or a skin care set, this December Russians are searching for a wide range of gifts to give to friends and family this New Year. In addition to holiday party prep and decorations, the majority of the search trends for holiday gifts are related to Russians’ winter activities and behavior. While there are special gifts that catch on as global trends, keep the cultural behavior in mind when advertising and selling your products in Russia.