The Jetsons Meet Big Brother Retailer

Forbes posted an interesting take on holiday trends last week, “The Five Biggest Digital Shopping Trends of the Holiday Season.”  While most were pretty obvious, there were a few bits worthy of mention.

I thought the theme of the Jetsons meets Big Brother Retailer was an interesting metaphor to illustrate how consumer expectations of intelligent and convenient products/services match  consumer expectations that marketers know enough about theme to be sophisticated in their communications.

Music to my ears. Have we finally arrived?

Hang tight.   While the vision of mining behavioral data and applying it to sophisticated marketing communications is a goal, we still live in a fragmented marketing experience at best.   While we know that 50% of consumers viewing email have their first “view” of an email on a mobile device, couple that with smartphone mCommerce challenges and you still have sluggish adoption on a 3”x5” device.   I don’t know if small devices will ever be a great transactional platform in their present state.  At least, not till we grow smaller fingers and thumbs, and aren’t able to leave devices at a restaurant or bar so easily.



Easy problem to solve, right?   Bigger smartphone and smaller tablets!   One that fits any size hand/finger? 

According to American Express Publishing and Harrison Group, holiday gift spending is projected to rise 7.7% from last year. And when Amazon plans holiday hiring increases, you usually can count on a pretty good year. So while all trends suggest mobile devices aren’t slowing things down, are they greatly accelerating mCommerce?

What do we really know about the upcoming holiday season?  I’ll try to sum up my view:

  • Retailers are optimistic -- and you should be, too, if you sell products that are digitally savvy experiences.
  • Mobile phones inform and offer convenience, but anything that requires thumbs will not transact fast (Jetson, or not).
  • Retailers will begin marketing before Halloween.  While Nov. 1is the busiest  day to upload photos on the Internet, expect the promotion stream to hit you well before that.
  • Business intelligence will kick in far sooner than it has in the past (that is where you dig deep to understand who will buy in this short retail buying season).
  • The Tablet “IS” the new buying medium.  But we are redefining the tablet.  Smartphones are bigger and tablets are “mini,” so we will find out quickly what that happy medium is for online shopping and engagement this year.  Better start paying attention to engagement levels on the two devices -- they are different.
  • Cyber Monday is HUGE.  Maximize it!  It’s now a cultural shopping anomaly

I’m excited to see some of the trends this year.  I love the fact that virtually everything we do digitally is tracking some type of behavior (or can).  Marketers are looking even deeper into behaviors to key on “Jetsons” behaviors.

 I fully expect real-time or variable pricing to be a big test bed this year.  It is nothing new for some industries (airlines and hotels, which have perishable inventories), but with longer shopping windows, more access and more information than ever before,  the “deal” is going to be the focus, and it will have to be variable. 

Be prepared. This implies more testing, more dynamic and real-time content, increased coordination between online advertising (Media:mobile/display/social) and direct communications through email.   I predict the trend we’ll benchmark next year will be “conversion on tablet” and price compression tied to inventory pressures.

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