Consumer Trends Driving Holiday Purchases

Sleigh bells are ringing in commercials. Stores are shifting their wrapping paper stock toward red and green hues. Brands are cleaning their email lists for holiday blitzes.

Discussing differences between three of the major social advertising platforms, Heike Young reports on the development of top-performing consumer programs for digital marketers.

The holiday season is here, and nearly every brand will attempt to tie in its product with the season, says the report. As marketing tactics are implemented, Young presents seven consumer trends that will impact campaigns produced, and suggests final reminders for preparation.

1. Mobile

No consumer trends analysis in 2014 can omit mobile. Last year, 52% of online smartphone shoppers used their phones throughout the shopping process during the holidays. Expect to see that dwarfed by the number of consumers who use mobile phones this year. Customers will keep their wish lists close and their phones closer. Marketing team considerations:

  • Barriers that can be removed to make conversion easier and more intuitive on mobile.
  • Feature top 1-3 holiday messages or deals front and center?
  • Fully staffed common mobile communication channels (like Facebook and Twitter) busy shopping day

2. Huge Smartphone Displays.

Customers are increasingly choosing big (mobile) screens that give them better experiences while reading, watching videos, writing emails, and surfing the web, says the report. More pixels equals more time to scan your website, Yelp pages, YouTube videos, and beyond. Customers now have the large smartphone displays to improve viewing experiences.

  • Create engaging visual content that looks and works well on larger smartphone displays
  • Does the mobile version of our website render well mobile devices
  • Adjust critical button sizes (like "buy now" or "subscribe") to accommodate the new screen sizes

3. Checking Reviews Before Buying

Before making a purchase last year, says the report, shoppers referenced 12 sources of information. In 2010, they referenced five. Expect this trend to continue upward, with more customers referencing review sites and star ratings than ever before.

  • Highlight favorite reviews on website
  • Ask loyalty program members or app users to pen a quick review
  • Consider PR opportunities to garner more third-party endorsements

4. Freebies Beyond Free Shipping

Free shipping is getting a little tired, says the report, while gift cards are becoming the next high-appeal freebie. Customers will hear many impactful offers from brands this holiday season, so find a freebie that appeals to your audience uniquely.

  • Partner with another brand who shares our audience to offer a perk or freebie in tandem?
  • Offer a gift or experience redeemable after the holiday season to increase engagement in 2015?
  • Do most loyal customers have opinions about the freebies currently offered

5. Apple Pay Takes Off.

Major retailers are already adopting Apple Pay, and the number of retailers who accept it will likely swell with the holidays, says the report. In a recent Apple Pay analysis by Business Insider, Apple Pay setup was easy and seamless, and it made shopping easier, requiring fewer steps for in-store purchases.

Unfortunately, though, some retail employees were uninformed about Apple Pay, which slowed purchases. Many customers don't buy because they don't want to wait in line. Make sure in-store teams know how to use Apple Pay.

  • Can Apple Pay be implemented in time for the holidays
  • Are in-store teams well trained in explaining Apple Pay to other employees and even customers who are new to the service
  • Do employees understand refunds on Apple Pay

6. Avoiding stores, but spending many hours shopping online

On big shopping days like Black Friday, it takes a while to park, navigate a mall, wait in line, etc. so customer skepticism of in-store shopping might be a disappointment. However, customers might actually be spending more time with your brand now, as they surf the web and shop from home.

  • Is our online shopping cart fully functional, or leave something to be desired
  • Do transactional emails include calls to action for future engagement
  • For can we invite customers who still prefer shopping in stores, to join the digital audience through special offers

7. Shopping earlier on Thanksgiving Day and later on Christmas Eve

Shopping times are creeping into the "real" holidays (like Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve) more than ever. Every brand has to make the decision for themselves on how they'll approach this, as some customers love shopping at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and others find a company's decision to open on Thanksgiving Day offensive. have a good explanation of why you chose your decision.

  • Can customers purchase from us on Thanksgiving Day
  • Are we fully staffed to offer customer support during all shopping days we offer
  • Do we have a blog post or article ready if we decide to open or not open during a controversial time

Consumers this holiday season are more mobile, hyperconnected, and review-obsessed than ever before, and marketing these days is all about keeping up with what customers are already doing, concludes the report.

The original blog may be reviewed here.

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