Text analysis of social conversations reveals insights surrounding travel and gaming 

Editor’s note: Alister Houghton is content manager at Relative Insight, London. 

Surveys, statistics and vast amounts of research are painting a bleak picture for the upcoming holiday season. Research by KPMG shows that 85% of consumers are somewhat, moderately or extremely concerned about inflation ahead of the holidays. Emodo Institute’s annual holiday shopper survey shows that financial concerns have surged 153%, predicted to lead to an environment in which many shoppers will shop less this year.

While these eyebrow-raising numbers are significant, gaining a more holistic and granular understanding of the why behind consumer concerns can surface some surprising insights. Text analytics is one way to understand how consumers plan to cope with the cost-of-living crisis over the holidays. 

Relative Insight analyzed 25,000 tweets relating to the cost of the holidays from both October 2021 and October 2022 to find out more. Using comparative text analytics to surface the differences between each set of tweets, this year-on-year comparison begins to build an understanding of consumers’ specific concerns and changing behaviors. 

Beyond what they are planning to buy – or not – this season, the analysis also surfaced varying sentiment around two key industries: travel and gaming.

Cost, not illness, will curb travel this season

After being hit hard by the pandemic, travel firms may be hoping that the subsidence in COVID-19 cases would encourage more people to travel to see vulnerable family members this winter. While the virus might not hold them back, prices might.

Consumers were 2.4 times more likely to talk about flights and also more likely to use the phrases “Xmas travel” and “flying home.” The increase in flight prices is making consumers question whether traveling to see family is unaffordable and will be something they avoid this year.

“Flying home for Christmas is expensive as hell this year 😓

“Booked my flights with some lucky money from a couple of casinos, but the flights were almost $100 more than last year.”

While offering discounts, loyalty programs and other customer benefits can help travel companies weather this holiday storm, most should prepare for less travel spending. Businesses impacted by the cost crunch, including travel companies, must remain hyper-aware of audience concerns and behaviors through holistic consumer insights programs, including the use of comparative text data analysis to provide greater context than more traditional methodologies. 

Gaming serves as a bright light for the holidays

As rising prices are cutting people’s disposable income, many consumers are suggesting that they won’t even be able to afford to do basic holiday activities such as putting up lights or even cooking Christmas dinner due to the impact this would have on their energy bills. 

“Life is looking pretty bleak at the minute for many people. Come Christmas, they might not be able to afford to turn the lights on.”

But, there is one bright light on the horizon: The video game industry looks to be one sector that could stand to gain this Christmas. People were 1.8 times more likely to state that they were looking to get new games this Christmas – either from others or as presents to themselves.

However, games vendors should be aware that consumers are very savvy when it comes to getting discounts. Part of the increased conversation around games was the prospect of holiday offers – with gamers waiting until price cuts before making their purchases.

This was particularly true of the FIFA Soccer game, which people mentioned 15.9 times more than in 2021, highlighting that they would buy the title when the price fell.

“I want FIFA. I can't afford it at the moment and won't be able to get it until Christmas discount.”

Like other brands and retailers, games vendors will need to jump on consumer desires for deals, discounts and bargains this holiday season – phrases related to these themes are showing up more and more in online conversations, according to Relative Insight’s research. 

Text analysis uncovers more detailed consumer trends

The text analytics from Twitter reveals a vastly different conversation in 2022 compared to 2021. For example, rather than bemoaning high costs, consumers in 2021 were 2.1 times more likely to discuss their plans for securing a Christmas tree – particularly whether they’d opt for real or artificial, what size they’d choose and how they’d decorate it. While this may change as we move closer to the holiday season, there’s currently an absence of Christmas cheer, with people wondering how they’re going to make it through with their bank balance intact.

This environment presents a challenge for brands but, as we uncovered through text analysis, consumer feelings and behaviors vary widely by category. While numbers gleaned from survey research can give a sense of where things may be headed, techniques such as text analysis can start to paint a more detailed picture of the consumer landscape and changing behaviors; thereby helping to guide decision-making during the critical holiday season.