89% of Shoppers Wait Until Final Days to Make Purchases; Nearly Half of High-Spending Millennials Purchase Online

Rubicon Project (NYSE:RUBI), a technology leader engineering the industry’s largest independent real-time trading platform for the buying and selling of advertising, announced the results of its first “Consumer Pulse” for Valentine’s Day.

The U.S. nationwide survey offers a detailed look at the technology, advertising and consumer habits driving the US$18.9 (£12.28) billion Valentine’s Day market – and how advertisers are responding.

With 89% of those surveyed saying they will wait until the final week to buy gifts for their loved ones, friends, family and even pets (13% plan to buy their pet a gift), the Rubicon Project Consumer Pulse: Valentine’s Day 2015 highlights clear lessons for marketers hoping to engage the increasingly online, mobile and “last minute” shopper.

Valentine's Day InfographicRubicon Project’s Consumer Pulse: Valentine’s Day 2015 shows a clear trend for consumers to research early and spend late,” said Anthony Katsur, Head of Buyer Cloud, Rubicon Project. “With consumer spending for Valentine’s Day estimated to be in excess of $18 billion this year, savvy advertisers embraced the initial opportunity to shape shopping habits by driving marketing campaigns early during the research phase and now have the opportunity to focus their remaining marketing efforts to capture the more than $16 billion that will be spent in the final days leading up to 14 February.”

Released on the first day of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting, the survey identifies six core themes for marketers seeking to influence the multiple billions of dollars remaining in discretionary holiday consumer spend that will occur this week:

  1. Love is Universal – Valentine’s Day is celebrated by nearly all; irrespective of age, sex / sexual orientation or marital status with nine out of ten planning to celebrate the holiday.
  2. Love is Last Minute – 89% plan to make their purchase the final week of Valentine’s Day with more than one third waiting until February 13th. Men shop even more last-minute than women with 4 in 10 waiting to buy their significant other’s gift until February 13th or 14th.
  3. Men Love Spending – Men intend to spend more on their gifts than women with 3 in 10 men planning to spend more than $100 versus 2 in 10 women.
  4. Young Love Dominates – Gift giving for Valentine’s Day is more common for younger people with nearly 3 in 4 of 18-34 year olds planning to buy a gift. Half of the millennials surveyed plan to spend at least $50, and one quarter plan to spend more than $100. Couples married ten years or more plan to celebrate the least.
  5. Love is Online and Mobile – One third of consumers will make their purchase online this year with one out of five of those buying via their mobile device. Those who shop online are also more likely (34%) to spend over $100 on a gift than those who shop in-person (26%). Not surprisingly, Millennials will fuel online spending with nearly half buying online (one out of four of those will use a mobile device to make their purchase). Those choosing to go in-store will also be heavily influenced by online content with 60% researching online before making a purchase (8 out of 10 Millennials will research in-store purchases online first).
  6. Advertising Works – More people this year are relying on advertisements to shape purchase intent than a friend’s recommendation. 57% of respondents have been influenced to make a purchase based on an online ad. In the case of millennials, 73% are influenced by ads.

With Valentine’s Day celebrated by nearly every couple this year, the opportunity to engage with the consumer has never been greater. Yet, even as research confirms the ability of advertising to shape purchase intent, it appears most consumers driving the $18 billion market have yet to hear from brands this holiday.

More than two-thirds (68%) have not seen a single online or mobile Valentine’s Day related ad this year. What is even more telling for advertisers seeking any advantage to shape purchase intent is that more than half (57%) of those surveyed said they would be likely to be influenced by online and mobile ads (had they seen any).

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