What Your Loved Ones Want for Christmas – According to Google
December 01, 2015 Andrew Hutchinson
A couple of weeks back, IBM announced that their machine learning system ‘Watson’ would be available to help shoppers this season, providing a new app which helps users locate the perfect Christmas gifts. The app, called ‘Watson Trend’, uses Watson’s ‘cognitive brain power’ to mine data from a range of sources, including Twitter (with which IBM has a formal partnership), e-commerce websites and thousands of blogs, in order to come up with the most accurate, best gift recommendations for your loved ones.
Honestly, the concept doesn’t sit well with me – while I respect the endeavor, and I can see how the tool showcases Watson’s ability to mine the expanding masses of online data and find the signals amidst the noise, then translate them into actionable insights, to me, if you don’t know what toys your kids are interested in, that seems like a sign of a potentially bigger problem – and one to which spending more time in another app is likely not the answer.
Regardless, the main aim of the tool is to showcase what Watson’s able to do, and it presents this in a creative and entertaining way, making a boring subject like data analytics into a more palatable, interesting process. Even if you don’t use it to find the ideal gifts for your family, it might just get you thinking about how you can use similar insights for your business and how can use social data to improve your company’s communications and outreach processes.
But, of course, IBM isn’t the only car on the lot when it comes to data and analytics. There’s one other provider, in particular, that’s been gathering consumer insights and providing similar offerings for years to help drive greater understanding and improvement.
Not to be outdone, Google has today released its listing of the top gifts trending in search, providing a strong indicator of the most popular gifts for Christmas – though, without the cognitive learning depth of Watson. Here are Google's top trending gifts, by category.
Drones, once solely the domain of military intelligence, are currently the most popular toy, according to Google’s data. These days, you can purchase any number of drone variants from toy stores, which is great for kids, but will no doubt lead to a privacy nightmare in the near future as our skies are cluttered with any number of nosy cameras peeking into our private lives.
The new self-balancing ‘Hoverboards’ have been popularized by a range of celebrities, so it’s no surprise to see them hit the upper echelons of search volume, while Lego has remained on trend, releasing a new interactive video game, and the new Star Wars film has awakened interest in toys from a galaxy far, far away.
Take it in, people – adult onesies are now the top trending Google search in the apparel category. This is what we're searching for, this is a reflection of us. And while onesies can be both humorous and warm, it’s somewhat surprising to see them trending so high – Google’s conclusion? Holiday onesies are the new “ugly Christmas sweaters”.
Google also notes that Bomber jackets, Levi’s Jeans and adidas 'Superstar' sneakers are leading the way in the new, 90’s influenced fashion trend – proving once again that everything that goes around, comes around again (and again).
It’s all about the smart devices – as noted by Google:
“Smart” devices top electronics searches: With more models on the market than ever, both smart watches and smart TVs topped our list of trending electronics this year—with “smart watch” searches seeing a particularly phenomenal growth, up nearly 300% compared to last year.”
Interesting, too, to see instant cameras in there – Google says that retro electronics are making a comeback with searches for things like “Polaroid Camera” and “Fujifilm Instax” rising in popularity. Is this where people are ultimately ending up? First we had Snapchat, with its promise of disappearing images, now we’re moving back to Polaroids and film to absolutely ensure there’s no viral spread of those embarrassing photos? Could this also be a reflection of Instagram’s popularity re-awakening people’s passion for photography?
If you’re not sure what to get for your loved ones for Christmas, you can take in these recommendations to get an idea of what’s most likely to suit, or you can go to Google Trends yourself and conduct your own, custom searches to best match what you’re seeking.
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