With the holiday period now winding down as people prepare to resume their normal lives, one company who have dived straight back into work are the Nottingham (England)-based UK branch of marketing firm Experian, who have taken on a study of the less pleasant side of Christmas shopping – reviewing what gifts were the most ‘unwanted’ this year in the region.
The statistics, seemingly pulled from stores rather than the brands, surprisingly revealed Apple to be top of the list with the most searched-for ‘returns policy’ on the web during Christmas Day (25 December), despite the presence of chains that deal in more ‘quantitative’ sales records, such as Argos, Harrods, Debenhams, and Toys ‘r Us, which rounded out the list’s top 5.
Of course, it is impossible to have the highest number of refund requests without having plenty of products sold in the first place, so despite some of their recent ‘troubles’ Apple will probably be pleased at their UK sales performance in December, though maybe not with how many of those transactions will be chalked off depending on the number of people who follow through on their return plans.
While high prices, lack of non-Apple functionality, and strong-performing competitors will have been factors in the decision of some disgruntled recipients, Experian have suggested that the high interest in returning Apple products could be due to the range of similarly-named and similar-looking handheld gadgets (including iPhones, iPads, and iPods), causing confusion with a less informed buyer, and presumably purchasing something the present’s recipient already owned or differed from what they actually wanted from Apple.
Experian have noted the saving grace for Apple comes with the high sales mentioned above (with 5 entries in Experian’s top 20 most-purchased Christmas gifts list being Apple products), so it is probably a case of them topping the returns list ‘because of’ rather than ‘despite’ high sales figures. Overall, it was found that returns of Christmas gifts in the UK were up by a staggering 250% on 2011 figures, which would be seen as a worrying further development for fans of high-end politeness and accepting gifts whatever they are.
Experian Marketing Services’ ‘digital insight manager’ James Murray said of the trends: “Sadly not everyone gets exactly what they want at Christmas and so Christmas Day and Boxing Day are key days when consumers go online to spend Christmas money or organise returns for unwanted gifts. Interestingly Apple was the most searched for returns policy on Christmas Day this year, and yet five of the top 20 Christmas gifts this year were Apple products. This is probably a case of parents and grandparents confusing the various models of iPads and iPods available, as although an iPad Mini and an iPod Nano might sound similar, they are clearly very different products.”
As Apple’s UK division presumably launch an investigation into their high levels of unwantedness (because one can never have too many devices prefixed by an ‘i’), are the statistics ending 2012 proof that Apple are riding a slippery slope from their lofty perch in the market, or does the interest in Apple returns just mean further interest in Apple?