A Marketer’s Holiday Shopping Cart: The Top Four Consumer Behaviors To Keep in Mind

By: Hope Richards, Media Director

We’re currently in the thick of the most competitive and profitable time of year for most brands: the holiday shopping season. Understanding how consumers are planning to shop this year, where they’re planning to make their purchases and what gifts they’re looking to spend on will be key for brands who want to maximize their advertising investment and seamlessly navigate this bustling shopping season. 

1. The early bird gets the worm: holiday shopping is predicted to begin sooner than ever.

Nothing beats the early bird special. 50% of US adults plan to start their holiday shopping in October this year, while only a small portion (10%) will start shopping in December. Due to this behavior many major retailers are expected to roll out Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions as early as October and offer holiday sales and promotions through the end of Q4. For advertisers looking to reach these shoppers they should consider a few things: 

  • The type of product: Large ticket items will likely be purchased earlier vs. smaller, “last minute” items, so advertisers should consider this when creating their roll out schedule. 
  • Audience: Affluent shoppers are more likely to begin their holiday shopping early, with nearly one-third starting before Halloween. 
  • Shipping: Brands with heavy reliance on ecommerce, should factor in shipping cut-off dates and therefore begin advertising earlier to capture relevant market share. 

2. Shoppers want discounts.

While sales are expected to grow year-over-year as post-COVID spend has steadily increased, economic uncertainty is currently leading to cautious spending. For most, savings are top of mind and discounts are being sought. According to an eMarketer survey, nearly seven in 10 (69%) shoppers said price is the top factor influencing their purchasing decisions during the holidays, outpacing quality (56%) and convenience (41%). Further to that, 82% of holiday shoppers are searching for coupon codes before making a purchase and 42% of shoppers said that when they tried a brand for the first time, it was the result of a digital offer. 

3. BOPIS: Shoppers are eager to shop in-person.

After three years of shopping online due to COVID, customers are excited to get back to shopping in-store. This provides an opportunity to embrace an omnichannel strategy — one that seamlessly bridges the gap between online and offline channels. It’s also an opportunity for retailers to offer hybrid shopping options such as buy online, pick up in stores (BOPIS) as 41% of shoppers are more likely than a year ago to buy after they browse online for inventory available in physical locations. In 2022, 1 in 5 online orders were fulfilled via BOPIS, surging to over 1 in 3, after shipping cutoff dates

4. Social media is home to shopping inspiration.

Social media is a key driver for holiday shoppers, with 50% of shoppers noting they are more likely to visit a brand or retailer’s website after seeing a social media ad, compared to 39% of shoppers who receive a promotional email. According to Bazaarvoice’s Holiday Consumer Survey, 49% of consumers follow brands on social media to discover Black Friday deals. Forty-five percent are more likely to discover a product via social media than any other channel over Black Friday and 63% said they expect to discover new products on social media over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

And influencers are key. According to the LTK Holiday Shopper Study, creators are now the most trusted source of holiday shopping inspiration among Gen Z and Millennials. Creators have surpassed social media ads and celebrities in trust, and within just one year, there has been a notable 32% increase in millennial shoppers choosing creators as their go-to source for the holidays.

For advertisers looking to design an ideal holiday marketing strategy, start your advertising as early as possible, offer promotional deals and discounts, and when doing so, consider scaling back on “Prime days” where your messaging may be overshadowed. It’s also important to keep in mind some media channels, like broadcast  TV, experience heightened competitive spending leading to increased pricing during this season. To tackle broadcast TV increases, we suggest looking at things like incorporating Connected TV and Online Video, exploring sponsorship opportunities vs. spot schedules, or incorporating shorter ads for efficiency. At Media+, we can help strategize a thoughtful omnichannel approach that will uncover ways to gain efficiencies no matter what channel mix is deployed.  

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