Majority to Buy Digital Gifts Offline

elastic-path-software-purchase-points-for-digital-goods-nov11.gif55% of “digital goods shoppers” plan to purchase digital gifts at a physical store such as Walmart or Gamestop this holiday season, according to [download page] an October 2011 study from Elastic Path Software. Data from “Virtual Goods Mean Real Money This Holiday” indicates that 52% of these shoppers will buy from 1 or 2 websites, while 34% will do their digital goods holiday shopping from more than 2 websites or online marketplaces. According to Elastic Path insight, digital content can be purchased in a physical store due to retailers like Wal-Mart now offering a wide array of physical gift cards redeemable for virtual goods – from Facebook and iTunes to Farmville, Zynga, and Club Penguin. Among “digital goods shoppers”, who make up 27% of average holiday shoppers, the most popular form of content is physical gift cards (58%), followed closely by individual movies, songs, and other similar media (55%). The study describes digital goods as E-books, music files, image or movie files, game downloads, video service subscriptions, and Facebook or Xbox credits, among others.

E-books Gain Appeal

When asked what types of digital content they were considering giving this holiday season, 21% of respondents cited games, followed closely by music (20%), E-books (16%), and TV shows and movies (16%). Last year, the most popular digital gifts were games (10%), music (10%), and magazines and newspaper online editions or subscriptions (9%).

However, when asked which types of digital goods they would like to receive this holiday season, the most popular gifts across all age groups were E-books (11%) and music (11%), closely followed by mobile and tablet apps (10%).

Price and Reputation Count

elasticpath-digital-influencers.jpg91% of “digital goods shoppers” say that price will either strongly influence (67%) or moderately influence (24%) their decision of where to buy their digital content gifts. Vendor reputation (87%) is also a a major influencer, as are site familiarity (83%), online product description quality (83%), and available delivery options (80%). Marketing campaigns are important to only 54%, while social media is cited by just 40% as influential to the decision process. According to the study, social media has a stronger influence on Gen Y consumers (aged 18-34), while customer support is of higher importance to lower income shoppers.

Roughly one-quarter of average holiday shoppers say that they would be encouraged to give more digital goods if they were at least 10% cheaper than their physical equivalents.

Most Want Laptops

Regardless of affordability, the most “wanted” digital device is a new laptop or desktop (24%), while the most desirable device to give is a new tablet (15%), followed by a computer (11%) or E-reader (9%). The study notes that the survey results predate the Kindle Fire announcement.

Juniper: Mobile Virtual Goods to Near $5B by ’16

The global market for mobile virtual goods and premium subscriptions is expected to reach $4.7 billion USD by 2016, according to an October 2011 white paper from Juniper Research. Findings from “Virtual Goods – Real Revenues on Mobile” indicate the Far East and China will be the overwhelmingly dominant regional driver of this growth, with Western Europe and North America coming in a distant second and third place in terms of mobile virtual goods spending. Juniper analysis indicates virtual goods, which are intangible, digital items which cost little to produce and are often sold in bulk at low prices, typically cost about $1 USD each. Many virtual goods are images of physical goods, and Juniper says in-game items are a major source of virtual good revenue for many sites. These items can often be obtained free through hours of gameplay, but most players choose to save time by buying them instead.

About the Data: Elastic Path Software’s online study polled 1,012 US adults over the age of 18 who intend to purchase gifts this holiday season (November and December 2011).