Why the PS4 Will Be This Year’s Top Tech Gift

What social data can tell us about holiday wish lists

When Nintendo revolutionized home gaming in the mid-80s, it also transformed holiday shopping. A massive marketing push helped the Japanese video game company kick off an unparalleled string of holiday season successes that changed the way consumers thought about their holiday wish lists.
These days, Nintendo is far from the only player in the video game field (it’s not even close to being the largest), but its legacy with holiday shopping is still going strong. In fact, when we analyzed the conversation around purchasing tech gifts on social media, we found that video game consoles accounted for five of the top ten items, including the top two. Here’s what we found.
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This year, Sony’s Playstation 4 topped the list of the most talked-about tech gifts, and did so by a mile: It was mentioned as much as all the other items in the top 5 combined.
What is the PS4 doing so right? How has it cemented its position atop the tech wish list? What can the social conversation surrounding tech gifts tell us about how consumers think about giving and getting gifts?
In this post, we look at the social data surrounding purchase intent of the most popular tech gifts for the 2016 holiday season to see what it can tell us about how people think about giving and getting gifts.

All I want for Christmas…

Before we get into the top tech gifts of 2016, it’s useful to look at the social media context surrounding holiday shopping in general. How do consumers discuss their gift plans on social? How can we measure purchase intent in holiday-shopping-related posts? Where do consumers most often talk about holiday buying?
To answer these questions, we first analyzed posts about wanting or buying specific holiday gifts and tracked the conversation over time. By doing that, we were able to get a clear picture of when people start talking about particular holiday gift items. Unsurprisingly, the discussion starts to climb rapidly at the beginning of November.
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Although all social channels have their fair share of holiday-shopping conversation, our analysis showed that Twitter — and to a slightly lesser extent, forums — is the main avenue for people to discuss their holiday-shopping plans and wishes.

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As you can see here, there is a low level of conversation about purchasing the major tech items all the way back in August, but the conversation heats up for all in November, especially around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Interestingly, that is also when PS4 starts to separate itself from the pack. In August there was no clear leader, but PS4 eventually grabs clear pole position.

Why PS4 is Number One

Which brings us to our real question: Why is PS4 in the lead?

When we dove into the conversation about giving or receiving the PS4 for the holidays, we found several interesting reasons why it is outperforming its rivals. Here are the most common reasons.

Quality (10% of overall PS4 conversation)

Unsurprisingly, the number one reason people prefer the PS4 as a gift is due to its perceived advantages in terms of performance and overall quality.

 

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Compatibility (3% of overall PS4 conversation)

Another common reason consumers favored the PS4 is the combination of its selection of games and its ability to play older games.

Xbox One, PS4’s major competitor, was often praised for its strong performance streaming TV and movies, but these virtues didn’t seem as essential as PS4’s advantage in the core competency of a game console: playing video games.

 

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Virtual Reality (2% of overall PS4 conversation)

The PSVR headset launched in October and immediately helped push the PS4 further into the lead. Although it accounts for a relatively small percentage of the overall conversation, it appears to have had a positive influence on the PS4’s position at the top of the holiday gift pile.

 

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Will the PS4 Earn the Top Spot?

We’ve shown the data laying out the case for why the PS4 will be the year’s most popular tech gift — but are we confident? After all, social conversation does not necessarily directly translate into sales.

To determine the likelihood of the social conversation converting into sales, we turned to 2015. By analyzing the social conversation of purchase intent around gaming consoles in 2015 and comparing it to comparing it to Q4 2015 sales of PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U, we were able to find a relationship between the two.

As you can see, there is a very strong correlation between the share of voice each game console received during the holiday season and the number of units it ended up selling by year’s end.

Checking it Twice

Social media has become a popular venue for people to discuss their holiday wish (and purchase) lists, especially for personal tech items. If you want to know how consumers’ tastes and preferences are changing — and which products are gaining favor — social media analytics may be the most powerful tool in your arsenal.

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