The trouble with discount-driven shopping sprees like Black Friday and Cyber Monday is that bargain hunters end up selecting gifts retailers want them to buy. The nationwide supersale is, in many ways, a brutally efficient exercise in inventory management. The biggest discounts are typically confined to either products that sell at high volumes or those starting to get a little dated.
Take the door-busters and flash sales out of the equation. How can we tell what people really want for the holidays? That’s easy: Look no further than the products tagged and pinned on shopping-centric social sites.
The slide show above combines the most frequently saved gifts on Pinterest, a network for assembling a sort of scrapbook of Web pages, and Wanelo, a similar platform for collecting anything that can be purchased online. (The Pinterest data come from Curalate, a company that measures and analyzes Pinterest traffic.) The results suggest holiday shoppers are far more idiosyncratic than Wal-Mart (WMT) and Apple (AAPL) would have us believe. Shoppers cast a wide net across the Internet, and thanks to the magic multiplier effect of “likes,” some fairly obscure products are gaining popularity.
On Wanelo, meanwhile, a little waterproof speaker is all the rage, garnering 152,000 “saves” as of Thanksgiving morning. That’s not a huge surprise, since the device is small, cheap, and selling on Amazon.com (AMZN) at a big discount. But the Wanelo crowd is also flocking to a camera sling made by a little company in Dallas called Fotostrap that’s particularly cheap and would look ridiculous on an iPhone.