Showdown of the Holiday Gadget Wish List: Man vs. Marketer

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and it’s make-or-break time for the hottest category this time of year — consumer electronics. As always, there will be no shortage of choices. Store aisles will be jam-packed with bright, shiny contenders, all competing for a place in your shopping cart.

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and it’s make-or-break time for the hottest category this time of year — consumer electronics. As always, there will be no shortage of choices. Store aisles will be jam-packed with bright, shiny contenders, all competing for a place in your shopping cart.

I decided to field a survey to find out which gadgets will earn a much-coveted spot in all those stockings hung by the chimney with care. To put a twist on things, I wanted to compare the responses of average consumers versus marketing professionals. Survey respondents included 100 consumers randomly selected from a survey panel and 100 traditional and digital marketing peers.

Most coveted gadgets: the winners
Want to know what to get your favorite marketer this year? The iPad was the hands-down winner among marketers, chosen by one in five respondents. But the iPad isn’t getting the same amount of consumer love — it ranked seventh in a list of 10 items we asked about, with only 8 percent of consumers including it on their wish lists.

What’s on top of consumers’ lists? Flat-screen TVs rule. Maybe those savvy consumers smell a deal? Last year wasn’t a banner year for TV sales, and the inventory glut is leading to heavy price reductions. According to CNN, the average price for a 32-inch LCD TV is just $374. Quite the bargain when compared inch-for-inch against the 9.7-inch iPad screen.

Life beyond Android and iPhone: the surprises
With all the talk about convergence devices that do it all, I didn’t expect to see a decidedly old-school, not-so-one-stop-shop entry in the top three of both the consumer and marketer list — digital cameras. It’s a reminder that there’s still a lot of demand for specialized, single-use devices.

When it comes to mobile, the iPhone was the most mentioned smartphone for both marketers and consumers, fueled by its heavily anticipated arrival at Verizon. Android phones were rock bottom on the list among nonmarketers, with a mere 2 percent hoping for one this holiday. Smartphones (non-Android or iPhone) made a surprisingly strong showing among consumers, tying for third place with the iPhone. In the iPhone- and Android-obsessed world of marketers, it’s easy to forget that there’s a lot of other options out there.

We’re not our target customers: the not so surprising
Over 90 percent of the marketers surveyed labeled one or more of the items they were asked about as a must-have for their holiday wish lists. One in 10 even included additional candidates, including GoogleTV, Xbox with Kinect, Roku and the latest iPod. But the average consumer is definitely less smitten by gizmos and gadgets — over 50 percent said none of the items we asked about will make it onto their holiday wish lists.

The reluctance among consumers to indulge in pricey electronic goodies is consistent with the grim predictions of 2010 holiday spending, such as the recent finding from the NPD Group that “consumers who were considering just cutting back on [consumer electronics] purchases are now not planning to buy anything at all.”

Holiday 2010: the takeaways
While 2011 is shaping up to be the year the iPhone hits mass adoption, there are a lot of other smartphone choices out there. This doesn’t make things any easier for app-slinging marketers, who will have to prioritize the platforms they want to serve.

iPad envy aside, there’s a lot in common between marketers and consumers. For now, most of us are favoring the familiar over the newer-to-market indulgences. Emerging technologies such as 3-D TVs, tablets and e-readers may dominate headlines, but it’s the established devices such as digital cameras and flat-screen TVs that will continue to capture wallet share this holiday season.

As for my list, I’m hoping to get something (or someone) to help carry around all the gadgets I already own. What’s on your wish list?

Retailers Hope Free Shipping Day Improves Sales

Although the holiday shopping season may be shaping up to be a little better than expected for e-tailers, many are participating in the inaugural Free Shipping Day, taking place today.
On Free Shipping Day, participating merchants are offering free shipping to online shoppers with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.
The day, which will become an annual event a la Cyber Monday, is yet another last-ditch effort to pull more sales from what could be a make-or-break time for many.

Although the holiday shopping season may be shaping up to be a little better than expected for e-tailers, many are participating in the inaugural Free Shipping Day, taking place today.
On Free Shipping Day, participating merchants are offering free shipping to online shoppers with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.
The day, which will become an annual event a la Cyber Monday, is yet another last-ditch effort to pull more sales from what could be a make-or-break time for many.
E-tailers have embraced the idea, which was hatched by Luke Knowles, co-founder of FreeShipping.org, an online destination for consumers hoping to find e-tailers that offer free shipping deals. Participating merchants this year include: Amazon.com, Bloomingdale’s, Brookstone, Circuit City, Coldwater Creek, Crate & Barrel, Endless.com, Nordstrom, Sur La Table, Target and Zappos. There is no cost for retailers or shoppers to participate.
The organizers hope Free Shipping Day will join the ranks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as known parts of American shopping culture. Knowles is banking on Americans’ affliction with procrastination to fuel the day into becoming a popular annual event. What’s more, his stats show that online shipping slows considerably after Dec. 12.
As for next year’s Free Shipping Day, Knowles will consult with participating e-tailers to figure out the latest day possible during the holiday season they can guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve. That day will be determined next month and likely fall between Dec. 17 and 19.