Insight – UK brands soar in popularity among international holiday shoppers – Rakuten Marketing

New research by integrated marketing solutions provider Rakuten Marketing reveals the huge borderless shopping opportunity this holiday season. 70% of consumers across Europe and APAC are looking to buy gifts for their family and friends – two thirds of whom will consider gift purchases from overseas.

UK brands particularly will be missing out if they fail to target overseas gift buyers. 45% of shoppers are looking to make a holiday purchase from the UK this year, specifically people from Germany (60%), Singapore (49%) and Australia (44%). This makes Britain the most popular market among those who are looking to purchase gifts internationally, despite the current economic uncertainties.

Consumers are planning on spending big this year as 64% of European and APAC consumers look to purchase gifts from luxury brands such as Hugo Boss, Chanel and Gucci.

“If UK marketers don’t prioritise attracting shoppers in foreign markets, they will fail to seize the significant opportunity international commerce presents at this time of year. They must not shy away from engaging unexpected shoppers – the key is finding customers at home and away”, explains Anthony Capano, Managing Director, International, at Rakuten Marketing.

Brits return to the high street

15% of UK consumers will make purchases for over 11 people, compared to just 3% of Germans who will buy this many presents. The majority of Brits (72%) are looking to buy gifts for at least 3 recipients or more this season.

Capano adds: “Marketers must remember ‘shopper profiles’ change at this time of year – instead of buying for themselves, people are buying for others. For brands this means engaging audiences outside of the traditional customer base, often through new tactics and channels.”

When asked where they plan to buy gifts, nearly two fifths of shoppers internationally are considering alternatives to Amazon. Over 57% of UK consumers will look to high street stalwarts Boots, with others choosing British department stores Debenhams (37%), John Lewis (30%), House of Fraser (16%) and Selfridges (12%).

The fashion brand most Brits will consider buying gifts from this holiday season is UK institution Marks and Spencer (36%). Nike (24%) and Adidas (24%) are the next most popular ‘fashion brands’ to capture gift buyers’ attention in the UK. Fashion favourites River Island (22%), Topshop (19%) and Zara (12%) will also attract shoppers for fashion gifts.

Across different industries, 67% of shoppers in the UK are looking to buy tech-related gifts this year, while 74% are looking to purchase gifts in the homeware department. John Lewis (28%) and IKEA (26%) come out on top for homeware.

Consumers expand their Cyber Week horizons

Cyber Week, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, remains a firm holiday shopping period for nearly a fifth of Brits (17%). This trend can also be seen in France and Germany where 12% of shoppers in both markets will be waiting for Cyber Weekend to begin this year. However, many are now looking beyond Cyber Week when it comes to buying gifts, with 28% of UK consumers preferring to wait until the Christmas period and 14% until End of Year sales.

Furthermore, 41% of Brits say they are not led by discounts or sales when holiday shopping. This is similar in France, where nearly a third (32%) say they ignore deals, and in Germany (43%). However, a whopping 98% of Chinese shoppers state they are led by discounts and sales and this is similarly high (92%) in Singapore. Not only does this show the importance of zoning in on which sales periods are most important to each market, but also the type of advertising or offer that is likely to have the biggest impact.

What do shoppers want?

Among the top priorities for customers when purchasing gifts in other markets are: seeking better quality products (40%), faster access to new products (32%) and the offer of genuine and authentic products (34%).

When it comes to marketing, 72% of Brits are open to advertising suggestions for gift purchases and find them most helpful when it leads to better options or discounts. The research also finds that recommendations from family and friends rank as the most helpful type of referral for gift inspiration and ideas.

Capano concludes: “During the holiday season, unexpected audiences are key. We know friends and family are driving gift recommendations so targeting a broader group outside of a brand’s traditional core audience with advertising or influencer marketing through helpful and effective advertisements, will enable brands to reap the rewards.”


Commissioned by Rakuten Marketing in October 2019, the research cited in this article was conducted by Savanta among 1,000 consumers per market in the UK, France and Germany, with a further 500 respondents per market from Australia, South Korea, China and Singapore. The total respondent base for international findings is 5,000 consumers.


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