The Grinch couldn't kill the holiday spirit, and neither can the economy. Last year, cautious holiday shoppers declared they'd cut down on holiday spending. They wound up spending an average of $107 more than they'd planned, plus another $200-plus on post-holiday sales.
This gift-giving fever makes the winter holidays the number-one season for retail sales, which hit $466 billion last year, according to the National Federation of Retailers1. Online sales play a bigger role each season, posting a record $37 billion in 2011, a 15% bump over the previous year.
To help online marketers create campaigns that connect with today's shoppers, Yahoo! Insights has released new research into the habits and preferences that guide consumers on their paths to holiday purchases. It also covers shoppers' behavior after the holidays, because they'll shop into the new year.
How to reach consumers during the hectic holidays
Here are four tips to help you create campaigns that connect with all kinds of holiday shoppers:
Engage with early-bird shoppers: Shopping and browsing starts much earlier than buying; nearly one-third of holiday shoppers are browsing in September. Create an early and consistent presence to introduce your brand to early birds and stay with them through the entire season.
Stand out through targeting and premium sponsorships: Last year, almost 40% of all retail display impressions were served in Q4. To stand out from the crowd, marketers should choose big, bold advertising positions and align with holiday content where consumers are more open to retail messages. And don't forget search advertising---it's the first step in most purchase paths, and consumers perform an average two searches per purchase decision.
Make your cost-conscious consumers feel like winners: Shoppers may overspend, but they're still trying to be smart: 20% said they'll spend more time researching online to find a better deal, which gives you more chances to touch them. Advertisers can also promote discounted items and smaller gifts to help shoppers spread the holiday spirit.
Help reduce consumers' stress with shopping and gift guides: One of the top sources of holiday stress is finding gifts, and shopping for significant others is ranked number-one. This spells opportunity for marketers: Our study found that 55% of shoppers want online ads to help them find gift ideas---and finding gifts faster can save them time, which is another major holiday shopping stressor.
Holiday shoppers are heavily into mobile
Holiday shoppers increasingly rely on mobile to help them find gifts, deals and information. Here's how to start leveraging mobile advertising and find more ways to connect with your target consumers.
Understand the power of mobile ads: Smartphone growth keeps rolling along; two-thirds of shoppers used mobile devices for holiday shopping in 2011, and they're likely to rely on mobile this season too.
Reach consumers in stores just before purchase: Consumers are using their mobile phones in the store to research products and find last-minute ideas: 69% said that they would use their smartphone for holiday shopping this year2
Use deals to pique interest and leverage different redemption tools: Nearly one-third of consumers surveyed have said they'd like to receive holiday deals via their mobile device.
Create experiences that serve both the online and offline shopper: Although holiday e-commerce is growing fast, most sales still close offline. Driving shoppers to stores and retailer websites is crucial!
The holiday season goes into overtime
Our surveys found plenty of consumer interest in post-holiday shopping, so we expanded our research into how shoppers shop in the holiday's post-season. Here's a sampling of our findings:
Holiday shopping goes past December: Consumers spent an average of $235 apiece after the 2011 holidays3. Even before the holidays started, more than 60% of consumers were already looking forward to post-holiday deals.
Advertisers should recognize the feeling of indulgence: 70% of post-holiday shoppers are shopping for themselves. They're also looking for gifts for close relatives and significant others4.
Post-holiday consumers are driven by deals: Over 70% say they are motivated by big sales, deals and discounts. "Bargain-hunting" was the top mood descriptor of post-holiday shopping.
Message consumers who use the Web for post-season shopping: More than half of post holiday shoppers rely on emails from specific retailers to find gift ideas and deals, while more than 1 in 3 search for deals online.
This is just a quick pass over the wealth of insights included in Yahoo!'s research into the hearts and minds of holiday shoppers. For more detailed information, you can download this article, listen to this free webinar or contact a Yahoo! representative.
1. National Retail Federation 2011 Holiday Survival Kit, Holidays refer to the 61 days of November and December
2. Yahoo! Pre-Holiday Intentions and Attitudes Survey n=1,500
3. Yahoo! Post-Holiday Shopper Study n=3,161 - Thinking about anything you purchased after the Holidays, how much did you spend?
4. comScore Media Metrix