The Where, How, and What of Holiday Marketing

While the weather this week may not feel like the beginning of November in Cleveland, the holidays will be here before you know it and consumers are planning to spend more than $877 billion this holiday season. Shoppers have been reaching deeper in their pockets every year since 2009. Are you prepared to get your share of holiday sales? 

When it comes to the biggest retail holidays, consumer shopping behaviors are changing faster than ever. Based on research from Mintel, eMarketer and NRF, I’ve compiled a list of several factors that should be considered when developing your holiday marketing plans. 

When Do Consumers Start Shopping?
Consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier than ever this year with 41% beginning their holiday shopping in November. Start your holiday marketing now! Additionally, more shoppers are planning to avoid Black Friday and its crowds this year and instead, they’re opting to purchase their gifts online. Roughly 70% of shoppers are expected to do at least half of their shopping online.

Deal-Seeking Behaviors
While the demand for deals is at an all-time high during the holidays, you should personalize deals and offers rather than advertise bottom prices to everyone. This will help retain loyal customers without tarnishing your brand image. In fact, research shows that 39% of shoppers who received a personalized coupon, promotion, or recommendation spent more than those who did not.

In addition to sales & discounts, there are specific factors that have a positive impact on consumers’ holiday shopping experience including free shipping, free gifts with purchase, fast delivery times, gift cards or coupons for post-holiday purchases and free gift wrapping. If offering free shipping is in the budget – do so! Free shipping is a main priority among holiday shoppers and is the top reason consumers spent more on their overall purchases last year.

Influencing the Sale: Mobile Activity

Both smartphones & tablets will continue to influence holiday gift giving this year. It is projected that 56% of all traffic to retail sites over the holidays will occur on mobile, where consumers are researching and comparing prices before and even during a shopping trip. However, shoppers are not only using their mobile devices to research, it’s projected that mobile will account for 26% of holiday sales.

What Gifts are Consumers Buying?
Food and beverages were the top purchased items during the 2014 holiday shopping season, but people’s buying patterns are about to change this 2015 holiday season. Gift cards are taking the top spot for gifts to purchase this holiday season with 59% of consumers planning to purchase at least one gift card. Retailers need to have gift cards easily obtainable to consumers for ultimate success this holiday season. Making sure gift cards are available online in multiple denominations will help you capitalize on this opportunity.

Inspiration For Purchases
Consumers are looking for purchase inspiration through December and they list a number of sources they turn to for gift ideas with the top being advertising circulars, television, wish lists, catalogs, magazines and email advertisements. Do you currently offer a wish list option online in addition to “add to cart?” Wish lists let people go back and reference their favorite holiday products for inspiration & gift giving ideas. 

Sources: Mintel 2014 & 2015; NRF 2014 & 2015; eMarketer 2015

Morgan Neal is an Account Executive for MNI Targeted Media. MNI is an industry leader in helping companies reach and engage their best prospects with every media plan. A recent Cleveland transplant, she grew up in upstate New York and is a proud Ohio University Alumna. In her free time you can find her running, biking, swimming or doing Crossfit. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


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