IBM study identifies global consumer trends for the holidays

By Georgia Wilson
IBM study identifies that the majority of global consumers have embraced ecommerce and sustainability for the holidays...

In its latest study titled ‘Home for the Holidays’, IBM gained insights from over 12,500 consumers in Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The study identified shifts in consumer outlooks as well as their shopping, travel and holiday plans as a result of COVID-19.  

"The research shows more consumers have started their holiday shopping earlier than in prior years, and many plan to shop online instead of in-store given rising cases of COVID-19. While last year 60% of shopping was done in-store and almost 30% online, this year those numbers may be nearly reversed. Businesses should be prepared to provide a personalized digital-first platform to engage customers, and use technologies such as Cloud and Artificial Intelligence to help them handle fluctuations in demand, manage their supply chains in near real time, and create a better experience to serve holiday shoppers' needs,” commented Jesus Mantas, senior managing partner, IBM Services.


Following its global research, IBM’s latest research found that 54% of global consumers reported that they were willing to change their holiday purchasing habits in order to help to reduce the environmental impact. 

Focusing on individual countries around the world, of those surveyed from India, 74% said that they would change their habits, the same figure was reported in Mexico and 66% in Brazil.

While COVID-19 has brought disruption for many consumers, IBM discovered that people are looking for more than simply ‘a good deal’, 44% reported that sustainability will be an influencing factor when shopping or choosing a brand.

Online shopping

Elsewhere in the report, the company forecasts a 1.8 per cent increase in November-December retail sales compared to 2019. With further research suggesting that 2020 will take a digital-first approach to shopping during the holidays, with over 60% of global consumers surveyed indicating that they planned to buy online for shipping to home as well as other locations, or buy online to pick-up in store or curbside. In addition the report further highlights that while 62% of consumers shopped in stores in 2019, only 28% planned to do so this year.

When it comes to the type of gifts being given in 2020, it was also identified that many were choosing products ovr experiences, with digital streaming entertainment seeing a 39% increase compared to last year, furniture seeing 33%, electronic goods 13% and toys and games 9 per cent.


With consumer concerns relating to COVID-19 remaining high, some of the top concerns include: 72% of US consumers concerned about a second wave, and 74% believe that the pandemic has made them more concerned about the health and safety of their family.

As a result further reports made by consumers identified that many people have changed their typical travel plans and time off.

Key findings:

  • More than half who usually travel during the holidays plan to travel less, while 22% are undecided
  • 67% of those that will travel have indicated that they will use a personal car or rental car as their primary transportation method
  • Employees surveyed reported that they had taken slightly more holiday in 2020 compared to 2019, wit COVID-19 being a major reason for the increase
  • Globally one third of employees reported that they are facing constraints that are limiting their ability to take the rest of their remaining paid time off

To read the full report, click here! 

For more information on business topics in the United States and Canada, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief North America.

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