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16.11.17 / The Most Popular Gifts of 2016 and Our Predictions for 2017

Getting that perfect Christmas present for the right person is a big deal and one which most of us spend a lot of time musing (or stressing!) over. Well, what if we told you that you need muse (or stress!) no more? Let us reveal to you some of last year’s most talked about gifts on social media, and see if we can predict what will be big this year…

Hygge

We’ve all heard of it, we’ve learned how to pronounce it (‘hoo-gah’, but of course we knew that already…), and we’ve been buying into it massively over the last twelve months. Referring to the art of keeping oneself snug, Hygge was a huge trend for Christmas 2016. It was mentioned 2,166 times on Twitter between 1st Nov and the 31st Dec. Conversation was predominantly female-driven (65.4%) and focused on the London area (38.2%). What’s more, Google searches for hygge were up 4,200% during the Christmas period in comparison to six months previously. Sentiment around the hygge conversation was overwhelmingly positive, with people enjoying any excuse to put on their thickest socks and delve under the duvet. Importantly, early social buzz seems to have correlated in eventual commercial success; The Little Book of Hygge, for example, hit the top of the bestseller lists, and sheepskin rugs reached a five year high for Google searches. Fantastiske!

Virtual reality

VR came into its own in 2016 and received a huge amount of social attention in the build up to Christmas. Coming from a predominantly male audience (74.2%), the conversation around VR generated 1,055 blog posts in November and December alone as well as 2,474 mentions on Twitter. Daily tweets in the UK reached a peak on Christmas Day, proving that it was a popular and much talked about present. However, the hype doesn’t appear to have been long lasting; Sony announced that it had only sold 915,000 units of its Playstation VR set in the first four months since its release, whilst other companies have yet to disclose their sales figures. A case in point for the power of passing trends, VR won’t be top of our wish list this year.

Fitness tech

“New year, new me”, said the whole of the country, and off to the shops we went to purchase the latest fitness tech. The range of gadgets able to track fitness activity is truly astounding, and now ranges from ‘smart shoes’ with inbuilt fitness trackers and Bluetooth connectivity, to bike helmets kitted out with headphones and GPS. We tracked 4,111 blog posts related to the topic between November and December. On Christmas Day, social media mentions were 1,011% higher than they had been on average each day since 1st Nov. Whilst conversation was fairly positive, there was also considerable backlash from people who believed the hype around fitness tech contributes to a negative, unhelpful attitude towards our bodies. In addition, the top emoji within the conversation (😂, 9.5%) suggested users weren’t taking fitness tech as seriously as the hype suggested.

Gift subscriptions

Over the years, many consumers have turned to purchasing subscriptions as Christmas gifts, whether it be food, books, magazines, makeup or even flowers. In 2016, Google searches for gift subscriptions were up 336% during the Christmas period in comparison to the previous six months, whilst London dominated Twitter – conversation in London was 620% higher than the next most chatty city, Manchester. The gender split was fairly even (52.7% men, 47.3% women), which is unsurprising given the huge variety in gift subscriptions available. Activewear, coffee, sketchbooks, shaving kits; if you like it, you can probably subscribe to it.

So, what are a couple of our predictions for popular Christmas gifts this year? It might be a little bit early to say for certain, but we can use indicators to give us a pretty good idea…

Smart speakers

“Alexa, what’s the weather going to be like today?” “Okay Google, what meetings do I have this week?” Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, we predict it will do soon. There have already been 14.4m mentions of smart speakers so far this year, and on the 1st Nov there had been a 160% increase in mentions since the 1st Jan. Google searches for smart speakers, in general, have risen on average by 288% each year for the last four years. If these figures are anything to go by, we think Alexa will be sitting under plenty of Christmas trees this year.

Gift experiences

In a similar vein to gift subscriptions, gift experiences (whether it be flying, afternoon tea, driving, spa days or Segways) could be making their way to the top of plenty of Christmas wish lists this year. 2017 has seen a 72% increase in conversation surrounding these experiences, reaching an impressive peak of 14.4k mentions on Valentine’s Day, proving they’re a popular present to give on gift-giving occasions. We just suggest being careful about what you say around your friends and family – that joke about always wanting to try skydiving may be taken more seriously than you realise…

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