How to take advantage of consumer shopping behaviour at Christmas

Date posted: 13 Nov 2019

Posted by: Smithfield

Post category: Blog

The opportunity to bag a bargain over Christmas is no longer restricted to a single period. Consumers look to the whole Christmas period, from the time the Christmas TV ads show through to Black Friday and the end of the Boxing Day sales, to grab a bargain for themselves and loved ones.

This key online sales window starts from the 1st November and ends January 24th, once consumers have booked their main holiday and indulged in luxury items (as a gift to themselves for Christmas).  Gone are the days when sales started on Boxing Day.

Last year, there was the highly publicised heavy discounting between retailers fighting to be noticed by consumers around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Interestingly, the purchases on these days were not necessarily just gifts but consumers looking to treat themselves before Christmas: indeed 55% of purchases were self-indulgent rather than for others, and men bought more for themselves compared to women (KPMG Annual Retail Survey 2019).

Yet, with all this discounting, like-for-like sales for November 2018 stood at 0.5% less than in the same period in 2017 (KPMG Annual Retail Survey 2019).

Will 2019 be any different?

Retailers are facing challenging times, with consumer and business confidence low – Brexit, rising rates, growing wages and increased competition all point towards it being a tough Christmas for retailers.  Indeed, Mothercare has just gone into administration.  However, there are some opportunities for brands and retailers to consider maximising the opportunity that Christmas brings.

This year we expect to see even more retailers to be involved in Black Friday and Cyber Monday (last year 84% of retailers took part in Black Friday). According to PWC, 1 in 6 of us definitely plan to buy something this Black Friday (PWC, What’s in store for Black Friday this year). This rises to 1 in 4 for people aged under 45.

More of us now buy online and do our Christmas gift shopping earlier from the comfort of our armchair (or, ahem, our desks) or on the go through mobile purchasing.  But as the Big Day draws closer, the high street inevitably plays its part in sales as shoppers scour stores for that perfect present.  To ensure you capture shopper intent, your customer journey needs to encourage and engage across all channels with search playing a key part in helping drive customers to your brand both online and in-store.

Here are our key dates and actions to consider so ensure you are actively engaging consumers during the Christmas period:

Early Nov – Preparations
All audiences are starting to think about the days ahead: Black Friday (29th Nov), what gifts to buy, their holiday next year and planning for the Christmas Day meal. This is a period about aligning your digital experience and ensuring your SEO & PPC strategies are working effectively together.

9 November – Christmas Advertising
The 9th November will trigger the retailers’ start of Christmas advertising this year: this includes big brands like M&S and John Lewis amongst others who famously tug on our heart strings each year.  The KPMG survey revealed 57% of Christmas shoppers bought from brands directly during the festive period; therefore, it’s important to consider how advertising should engage your audience to take advantage of these campaigns.  This is particularly the case online, with social media and email being particularly effective.  According to our partners, ESB Connect, in 2018 they saw an open rate of 45.7% on retargeting shop cart abandonment and 10.75% click through rate.

Black Friday (29th Nov) and Cyber Monday (1st Dec)
Now seen as the starting gun for the big four weeks of Christmas shopping, this really is the key retail period of the year.  Before you decide whether to discount prices over this vital weekend, consider your audience and whether they are simply interested in the discount or whether there is something else you could offer.

This weekend brings lots of noise from advertising, and your campaign will need to be tactical if you take part.  With shoppers looking for additional discounts, or information on deals, email marketing could play an important role in the lead up to Black Friday to keep your consumers informed of deals.

20th – 24th December – The Final Week!
The final days before the Big Day itself, these are always a mad rush, and are when consumers move from online to in-store.  This is where you see a spike in searches around opening times, last delivery times, and “find items near me” as consumers look in-store.  Your strategy needs to reflect this and considerations such as location-based marketing could really help boost your sales on top of clear audience insights.  Again, email marketing, with discounts, could be an additional driver.

Boxing Day to 24th January – Boxing Day Sales
According to KPMG, 61% of consumers perceive the Boxing Day sales to offer a greater depth of discount compared to Black Friday.  This is a great opportunity for travel and luxury brands as consumers look to treat themselves.  This is where you could bring in TV to your advertising (working with your other media) to take advantage of Twixmas and the discounted TV prices available to brands during this period.

If you want to learn more why not get in contact with us as we would love to chat and see how Smithfield can support you. Give Patrick Woods a call on 020 7257 2600 or Tony Hall, in our Manchester Office on 0161 200 8330.

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