It’s good news for brick and mortar: Consumers may go online to research, but they plan to pound the pavement and make more purchases in-store this holiday season, according to Epsilon.
The company’s 2016 holiday shopping survey asked consumers how they intend to approach the upcoming holiday shopping season. A full 87% of respondents are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to purchase at brick-and-mortar stores this year, with 55% of respondents “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to look at a product online and then go to a store to buy. Conversely, 76% of respondents are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to purchase online this holiday season, with 54% of respondents “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to look in-store for a product and go online to find the best deal.
These findings further signify the importance of personalizing communications both online and offline and creating a seamless customer journey across marketing channels, says Tom Edwards, chief digital officer, agency for Epsilon.
“Where consumers are shopping for the upcoming holiday season is less important than how they are getting there,” Edwards said in a release. “This study shows that digital channels continue to steer consumers on their non-linear path-to-purchase and influence buying decisions, identifying a huge opportunity for marketers to reach consumers in the moments that matter most.”
Leading up to the holiday season, retailers need to continue to focus on creating consistent and contextually relevant experiences for consumers across devices, time and media, Edwards says.
“If they’re not engaging in this manner they risk losing out on their share of holiday shopping budgets,” he adds.
The online study of nearly 2,300 U.S. consumers 25 years of age or older was conducted by Epsilon in April 2016. Throughout the report, findings from the company’s 2015 shopping survey are compared for year-over-year changes. Results were weighted based on age of responder.
Respondents prefer brick-and-mortar stores because of their ability to assess products in person. Respondents also show a propensity toward offline advertising, with 77% of respondents stating that advertisements received by mail will have at least “some influence” on their buying decisions this holiday shopping season. This compared to 41% of respondents who feel banner advertisements when searching online will have at least “some influence” on their buying decisions. Respondents indicated they are influenced by direct mail because it usually contains an offer or discount and the format allows for leisurely review time.
“To improve the level of influence from online advertising efforts, retailers need to leverage offline and online insights to create personalized experiences that take into account consumers’ desire for offers or discounts,” Edwards said. “Utilizing a more targeted approach to online advertising will also create a more compelling and engaging cross-channel experience for consumers.”
A huge majority — 90% of respondents — plan to access online sites or emails to learn about the best deals before starting their shopping journey, compared to 88% of respondents in 2015. Notably, 47% of respondents said they will do this regularly during the 2016 holiday shopping season, compared to 37% in 2015.
Social media’s role in the path-to-purchase is increasing too. Of those who are “very likely” to use Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for gift ideas, 65% of respondents indicate they use Pinterest because the ideas that they see are relevant to them, higher than Facebook (32%) and Instagram (37%).
Email remains relevant as well with 73% of respondents saying an email sent directly from a brand will have “a lot of” or “some” influence on their buying decisions this holiday season. Respondents report being influenced by this type of advertising because they find it personal and the emails they receive are from brands they like.