Commentary

How America Really Shops For The Holidays

When it comes to targeting consumers, just like our beloved family members, one size will not fit all this holiday season. Each part of our country is looking to spend big, but for different reasons. To get a better understanding of what drives sales coast to coast, we dug deep into our database of 242 million Americans. Here’s what we found:

A Heartfelt Holiday for America’s Heartland    
The Midwest wins the prize for being the most festive. Why? Because these consumers are 42% more likely to engage in holiday activities. For example, you might want to show up with your sweet tooth, since this group is 66% more likely to buy holiday candy and 20% more likely to have holiday baked goods on hand. At the same, the holiday spirit will be hard to miss, as Midwesterners are 44% more likely to purchase decorations before tuning in to Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas slate of holiday movies (+41%).

Southern Values Are More Important than Seasonality 
In the South, there is more of a tendency to dial up family instead of hitting the stores. These consumers ranked entertaining family and loved ones (+30%) the highest of any region. At the same time, they are 11% less likely to shop at any retail location during the holiday season, because to them, the holidays are not primarily about gifts.

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West Coasters Look for Luxury 
Consumers on the West Coast look at the holidays as a time to buy those big-ticket items they've been eying all year. The fact is, they are 67% more likely to make holiday purchases at luxury/upscale stores. However, when it comes to getting into the holiday spirit, they fall behind the rest of the U.S., being 25% less likely to be holiday entertainers, and 35% less likely to make festive foods.

East Coasters Are Eager to Spend
Similar to the West Coast, the East Coast falls short on holiday entertaining (-11%) and cooking/baking (-11%). However, when it comes to holiday shopping overall, they are the top spenders (+39%). And while those wallets are open, they are most likely to show their holiday spirit by purchasing holiday apparel (+22%).

How Two Top Consumer Segments Are Shopping This Year   
Of course, it’s not enough for brands to just consider geographical data. There is plenty of insightful demographical data that can help drive holiday sales.

It’s safe to say that the growing U.S. Hispanic audience is a major target for most brands. However, 64% of this audience is less likely to be brand-loyal. In fact, 63% of U.S. Hispanic consumers claim discount coupons and promotional offers often persuade them to try alternative brands. At the same time, they are also 17% more likely to share deals and coupons from retailers on social media.

Targeted promotional offers are invaluable, for this group can prove invaluable for marketers.

Another highly targeted audience is America’s affluent consumers. Traditionally, luxury brands choose to open retail locations in areas with high concentrations of affluent consumers. However, with the online shopping boom, this approach no longer exists. Affluent U.S. consumers are 4.7 times more likely to purchase luxury products online and 80% more likely to make an online purchase during the holiday shopping season.

Despite these statistics, luxury brands still place an emphasis on consumers who happen to live within the top-five DMAs. These brands are therefore potentially missing out on 66% of affluent U.S. consumers who can purchase products online.

As marketers, we are subconsciously trained to adopt preconceived notions about different consumer groups and consider them universal truths. At a birds-eye view, these generalizations are seemingly valid. But in time, they may lead to millions of dollars in missed revenue. Precision targeting—understanding the true motivations of consumers—is what brands must pursue to feel merry and bright this holiday season.

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