In Consumer Insights

In November 2020, the new series of Xbox and PlayStation consoles launched in the U.S. Intense demand for both consoles led to shortages that are persisting even after the Christmas season. 

At Verto Analytics, we collect data (including the activity of consumers across all the devices they own: smartphones, PCs, and tablets) to uncover valuable patterns and insights about how consumers behave online. 

We wanted to better understand the demand for these consoles, so we dug into the data by looking at product page views on Amazon, Walmart, and Target as well as searches on those retail sites (as well as search engines) to determine where consumers are shopping for these new consoles—and which system is turning out to be more popular.

Where Are People Searching for Their New Video Game System?

For retailers, that’s the big question, isn’t it? We dug into the clickstream data from Verto’s single-source panel to check how many U.S. adults were looking at product pages for the new consoles on three major retailers. We then extrapolated this data to the U.S. 18+ online population.

Since both consoles were sold out almost everywhere, it makes sense consumers were shopping across multiple sites to check availability. In fact, our data shows 56% of new console shoppers shopped across multiple sites.

Target and Walmart experienced similar levels of people searching for either console, while Amazon lagged slightly behind. This may be because Walmart and Target had more constant console restocking (though announcements of this restocking were not consistent, requiring potential buyers to check back frequently). Amazon, however, did not resupply either console at all in November—and the only stock available was the stock from launch day.

Which Is More Popular—the New Xbox or PlayStation?

Even though both consoles sold out in their initial launches, we wanted to look at which console generated the most interest.

Our data shows that, generally, consumers showed more interest in the new PlayStation—as more people shopped for it on Amazon/Walmart/Target and more people searched for it on search engines. 

Around 7.6 million consumers visited a PlayStation 5 product page in November 2020 compared to 3.6 million visiting a Xbox Series X/S product page on Amazon, Walmart, or Target; that’s nearly twice as many!

We see the same situation in search, where 10.2 million shoppers searched for the PS5 compared to 5.6 million searching for the Xbox Series X/S. Many of these were information searches and led to review or comparison pages rather than a product page.

Interestingly for retail search, the margin between PlayStation and Xbox is slimmer. Much less search was done on retail sites for these new consoles compared to general search engines. This may be because shoppers bypassed retail search to get directly to the product page on each site—and returned to the same page through a bookmark.

This problem of availability will likely continue until later this year, with Sony planning to ship 16.8-18 million units in 2021 compared to 3 million units in 2020. Microsoft is also following suit, according to a 2020 wrapup by Microsoft’s gaming chief Phil Spencer. In the meantime, expect continued high demand for both consoles.

Would you like deeper insights about other market segments? Contact us to learn how our cross-device, single-source panel can help.

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