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Fuse Report: Surprising Trends From The Millennials’ 2012 Holiday Shopping Lists

With the holiday season on many marketers’ minds, youth culture marketing agency Fuse engaged a panel of teens and young adults to examine trends in their intentions and wishes for the holidays, yielding some surprising results.

The panelists surveyed said that this holiday season, their purchases for others and wish lists for themselves will focus on quality, practicality and price. As in years prior, Fuse found that clothing, footwear, electronics, and jewelry are at the top of wish lists of teens and young adults, but the degree to which quality and price will be major factors this season is surprising.

“Clothing is practical for me,” said Abby, a 20-year-old panelist from Massachusetts. She continued, saying “I don’t like ‘nonsense’ gifts, or things that I’ll use a few times and then have it sit there. I’d rather be able to use it or wear it, and often.”

Fuse also found that gift cards will be popular this season, as they allow young people flexibility and choices in their purchases. According to Fuse, this trend in the prominence of gift cards as popular holiday gifts represents a change in Millennials’ spending habits; rather than shopping less, young adults and teens are shopping smarter and are acutely aware of their “student” or “recent grad” budgets. In this same vein, the report also found that Millennials are unlikely to purchase a product without having researched it first

Those surveyed noted that they expect to spend about what they did last year, somewhere in the $100-$500 range, on holiday shopping. Despite their reputation as perpetual procrastinators, the report also found that most young people plan on shopping several weeks in advance of the holidays, rather than waiting until the last minute.

Here are a few additional insights from Fuse about the shopping habits of Millennials this holiday season:

- Millennials aren’t rolling in the dough. They are college students and recent grads indebted to student loans. Many of them are flocking home to live with parents who can provide security (and a free washing machine) in challenging times, starting careers in job positions at the bottom of the totem pole, and getting married and starting families. Brands aiming to keep the youth consumer interested and loyal need to leverage quality and reliability.

- Millennials carry a collective “we” mindset, but are competitive. This is a generation that experiences life through their smart phone or tablet where posts, videos, and Instagram photos capture moments they seek to compare and brag to their friends. The montage of Facebook updates on the latest accomplishment, Tweets poking fun at fans of the losing team, and Instagrams of the latest addition to the wardrobe is evidence that this generation puts their lives on display. Distinguish what will prompt Millennials to boast about your product and create targeted messaging across multiple platforms to maintain engagement.

- For Millennials, patience is seemingly a “waste of time.” Decisions are often instantaneous, but don’t mistake this for impulsive; they do their research. This is a generation that wants to know the product and how it will benefit them in the right away. For Millennials, information has always been a click away, and brands need to make sure that their product information is available at “any-time access”: in-store, mobile, online, and social to reflect the Millennial lifestyle.