Here they are, 2016’s hottest Christmas…

Here they are, 2016’s hottest Christmas products!

Halloween jack-o-lanterns may still be haunting Britain’s door steps, but the festive season is about to shift into high gear. As such, Hitwise, a division of Connexity, is making our list of hot products and checking it twice! As of today, we will begin weekly reporting of the top branded products and toys that Brits are searching for online and pointing out any trends we’re seeing in the data so make sure to watch this space from here until the end of the year.

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As of the week ending 29 October, Britain’s top hot branded product search was “Hatchimals.” A newcomer to this space, the debut position at the top of the list is especially impressive given the fact that it boosted “Fitbit” from the top spot, a position it held comfortably for the duration of the 2015 Christmas season. Hatchimals are a plush electronic toy that somewhat resemble a Furby and which “hatch” from an egg after a bit of encouragement and interactive play. It’s kind of ingenious if you ask me; and if you have a kid or are shopping for one, consider this your notice to snatch one up before they’re out of stock.

“Fitbit” still holds the second spot on the list, though searches are down 11% relative to last year, and the margin over other hot products is small so “Fitbit” may not be the super star it was in years past.

Electronics, electronics, electronics

The Amazon Echo, which has been an enormous, if not unexpected, success in the US, released in the UK 28 September and interest is so great that it now sits at number 4 on our list. The Echo is likely to drive visits (physical and online) to retailers besides Amazon as well since it’s available from Argos, John Lewis and Currys. available from Amazon as well as other retailers. While not expected to be released here until next year, the Google Home smart speaker—Google’s long-awaited answer to the Echo—already has consumers excited. In the last four weeks, searches have nearly tripled.

The success of the Amazon Echo is closely related to the rise in the home automation or smart home space. As we reported in our Christmas planning webinar, searches for home automation products have more than doubled in the last year and leading products are especially hot items around Black Friday and Boxing Day. This year is likely to be a good one for makers of these products. For instance, searches for the Nest smart thermostat have increased 146% year-on-year and searches for Philips Hue smart lights have risen 156%. Stores like John Lewis, which set up in-store experience centres where shoppers can get a hands-on experience, are well poised to take advantage of this surge in interest and get the generally affluent consumers who buying these products to spend more money in their stores.

Microsoft and Sony made minor updates this year to their now four-year-old gaming consoles, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, which seems to have reignited interest in the category, at least on this side of The Pond. In the UK, unlike in US where the gaming consoles have lost search share, searches for PS4 and Xbox One are up this year relative to 2015. The presence of two games, Battlefield 1 and Roblox, in the top 10 speak to this trend.

On a related note, we’re also observing a rise in searches for Virtual Reality, or VR, products in the data this year. With Google, Microsoft, Sony, HTC, Oculus, Samsung and more making big plays in this space since last year, expect VR products to be hot. They may even start to expand beyond the gamer set.

Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates on UK’s hot products and check our blog for additional insights as the season progresses.

To find out what your customers are searching for this Christmas season (and beyond), reach out to us for a demo of Hitwise’s AudienceView