Consumer Trend: The Rise of Digital Gifts

As we head towards the holiday season, people are starting to think about gifts for friends and family. With the explosive growth of mobile devices and the omni-present nature of the Internet, Americans are more connected than ever. One trend emerging from our constant connectivity is seen in the gifting habits of consumers. People want gifts they can use on a mobile device or on the Internet because that’s where they spend much of their time.

Last year, 45% of adults own a smartphone and 28% of adults own a tablet or eReader. This prevalence of mobile devices, in addition to laptop and desktop computers, leads the way for a gifting revolution. Rather than traditional gifts that can be purchased in a physical store, brought home to be wrapped, and delivered to a recipient, digital gifts are stealing the top spots on consumers’ wish lists.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 60% of people said they would like to receive a gift card during the 2012 holiday season, making it the most requested gift of the year. Clothing comes in second, followed by books, CDs, DVDs, and videos, all which can be delivered digitally for use online, or on a mobile device.

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Kids want their goods digitally too; 86% of children between age 2 and 10 have access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet. This opens the door to deliver digital gifts to children. Parents can purchase the game, app, or music for direct download to their child’s device, or purchase a gift card so the child can make the purchase on their own. Fifty-eight percent of parents plan to purchase a downloadable gift for the holidays, according to a survey by PBS Kids.

What does this shift to digital gifts mean for brands? Make it easy for consumers to find online and buy digital versions of your product, whether it’s an online gift card, a digital subscription service, or something else. Also consider creating a ‘wish list’ feature on your site where consumers can keep track of exactly what they want and share it with others. This is especially helpful for parents as they try to decide what to buy their kids for the holidays.

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