Trends Worth Tracking: Holiday Gifts, Smart Devices Edition


Trends Worth Tracking: Holiday Gifts, Smart Devices Edition

Rachel Broder

The Truth

The 2018 calendar has the most possible days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, allowing ample time for shoppers to complete their holiday shopping.  E-commerce sales are expected to grow 16.2% YoY and generate $123.4 billion.1 This year, that growth is expected to be driven by consumer electronics, especially “smart” and connected devices.  To help our current and prospective brands stay connected to consumer trends, Digitas took its “Truth. Connection. Wonder.” approach to dive into online search and social chatter and uncover top consumer electronic trends ahead of the 2018 holiday season.

The Connection

This holiday season, electronics like wireless headphones, portable speakers, and gaming systems will likely remain common gifts.  However, smart and connected devices are trending to be the most popular in 2018. The following tech gifts have seen increases in search interest2 YoY and continuous social conversations3.

1.     Smartwatches

  • General Smartwatch sales are expected to double over the next five years.  Currently, the Apple watch leads sales within the category, with more traditional fitness trackers like Fitbit and Garmin following closely. 4
  • As search interest and social buzz grows YoY (37% and 154%, respectively) and social posts containing positive sentiment also increase YoY (+14%), it is clear that the fitness-tracking trend remains top of mind for consumers.  Many discuss the value of these products, especially the features that remind them to stand or move throughout the day.  Additionally, many consumers are asking online for recommendations on Smartwatches and discussing pros and cons of the various brands, while also using these communities as a resource to troubleshoot problems they have encountered.
  • Spikes in recent social buzz and the YoY lift in social mentions were largely driven by the announcement of the Apple Watch Series 4 in September 2018.  Nearly 30% of 2018 post volume stems from sharing news of the announcement or commenting on the new product lineup using #AppleEvent.  Fans seemed most interested in the improved fitness capabilities, including the automatic workout detection feature and the electrocardiogram (EKG) that can register potential heart conditions.

2.     Smart Home Accessories

  • Online interest in connecting multiple devices throughout one’s home continues to grow, as social mentions have increased 29% since 2017. Consumers are purchasing smart security systems, smart lightbulbs, and smart thermostats, all of which can be controlled by their smart devices.
  • Social listening data suggests that consumers are starting to use their smart devices to their full capability rather than solely asking Alexa to play music or about the temperature outside.  Owners are getting more comfortable with having these devices, and want them to connect multiple rooms throughout the house.
  • Many individuals leverage social platforms to ask for recommendations about accessories prior to purchase and 65% of these social conversations are taking place on forums, namely Reddit,, and  Some ask their networks which Bluetooth light bulbs to invest in, and in return, others explain how they control lights in multiple rooms around their house using their Google Home.  Others ask for installation tips and tricks.  A smaller subset of smart device owners talk about how they were once skeptics, but now take advantage of and recommend the connected capabilities.

3.     Amazon Alexa and Google Home Devices

  • Amazon Alexa devices (i.e. Echo and Dot) and Google Home devices have been available for a couple years, but as new generations of these products are released and their capabilities improve, consumer interest remains high.  Interestingly, Amazon Alexa mentions have decreased 25% YoY while Google Home mentions have increased 4%.  However, positive social sentiment surrounding the Amazon Alexa has grown 8% YoY while Google Home sentiment has remained stable.
  • Consumers continue to turn to social platforms to ask about and share experiences using these products.  The majority of social mentions are from owners sharing tips or use cases for their device or asking questions to troubleshoot a problem.  12% of posts mention both brands together, indicating that there are a handful of people seeking advice for which product to purchase or interest in switching from Google Home to Alexa, or vice versa.
  • Similar to the smart home accessory category, data indicates that the longer consumers own these products and their market share grows, the more comfortable owners are becoming with their capabilities.  Consumers explain new use cases for Alexa Skills or share success stories about how they connected multiple devices around their home.  Despite a large presence in the market, there still remains a small subset of skeptical social conversation about what Google and Amazon will do with data from these devices.
  • Interestingly, consumers share online that they are using their devices more and in more interesting ways; however, research shows that voice devices will not have a major influence on the actual shopping process or spending this holiday season1.  Rather, they will likely supplement the research process or be purchased as gifts.

The Wonder

Consumers are growing more trusting of smart devices.  As they become increasingly comfortable with these products and start experimenting with more of their capabilities, consumers will start to look to brands to be a part of this evolution as well.  Whether it is building a connected line of products or integrating with connected devices in innovative ways, brands should adapt to create the seamless experience that consumers are starting to expect. 


2Google Trends

3Crimson Hexagon


Rachel Broder

Rachel Broder

Manager, Data & Analysis, GroupeConnect

Rachel Broder is a Manager, Data & Analysis at GroupeConnect, a Publicis Groupe solution. 


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