This Holiday Season, Shoppers ‘Got a Brand New Bag’

If you feel like the holiday season beckons earlier each year, it’s not just the sugar-plums dancing in your head. From a consumer perspective, early shopping has become a habit. Sales events like the Amazon Prime Early Access Sale, Target’s Deal Days, and Walmart’s Rollbacks and More spurred holiday spending in the first half of October. In fact, even as early as July, Google searches for ‘Black Friday deals’ in the U.S. grew more than 200% relative to last year. As we don (and add to cart) our gay apparel, what does holiday shopping look like this year? How can you capture shoppers’ share of wallet – and is it too late?

In total, eMarketer predicts holiday retail sales will jump 7% YoY to nearly $1.3 trillion. However, that’s largely influenced by inflation. Of that, Adobe anticipates ecommerce holiday sales will increase by a modest 2.5% this year, a lackluster projection as the pandemic-fueled eComm boom cools off. Brick-and-mortar, conversely, is projected to gain nearly 6%, as consumers prove they’re comfortable shopping in stores once again.

The story behind those numbers is a mixed, velvety bag of swirling signals. Increasing inflation is mercifully countered by consumers’ disposable income bolstered by pandemic-era savings, rising wages, and low rates of unemployment. Retail goods will fight for those dollars against still pent-up demand for experiences –– such as travel, dining, events, and self care. And of those retail goods, consumers are prioritizing necessities over splurges. The longer shopping season egg(nog)ed on by aforementioned sales events, will steal some shine from the Cyber Five (the days spanning Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday).

Although people shopped ahead, ample opportunities exist for marketers to reach and engage holiday audiences. Here are a few items to check off your list:

  • Discounts and coupon codes will be essential to capturing shoppers’ attention –– 43% plan to look for more deals and sales than last year, per an Ipsos survey commissioned by Google. The intense focus on comparison shopping will create opportunities beyond large retailers. While the Cyber Five is losing share (capturing 15.6% of holiday season ecommerce sales, compared to 20% in 2019), it still represents the season’s peak and will invariably entice these deal-seekers. If you’re able to offer a deal, discount, or otherwise competitive price, highlight it prominently in your ads.
  • Even if you can’t lower prices, lean into transparency. Communicate the factors affecting your prices (such as supply chain disruptions), and highlight why consumers should stick with you. According to Ipsos, 73% of consumers are willing to continue buying from companies even when prices go up, if they feel valued – whether through loyalty or referral programs, or other incentives like quick, reliable, and free shipping.
  • While it’s often easy to prioritize performance media like paid search, don’t neglect branding initiatives. Consider counterparts to traditional mediums where you can efficiently extend reach to new customers, like CTV and streaming audio. Build brand presence on social platforms that resonate with your audience. While these channels may not have a clear path to ROAS, they’re critical for driving conversion to lower funnel tactics.
  • Leverage your first-party data. Or work with a trusted party to begin harvesting it. We won’t spoil the merriment with talk of ‘crumbling cookies,’ but now is the time to build and maintain your CRM list. This holiday season, re-engage lapsed customers and work to make new shoppers loyalists. When the glitter settles in January, you’ll want to focus on retaining the new customers you earned.

At Brkthru, we know your holiday plates are brimming over – you needed action yesterday. We have a dedicated team to tackle everything from the mundane to the messy (holiday baking and gift wrapping excluded). Reach out to our team of elves to turn your holiday marketing into magic.

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