Holiday Whispers: Consumers And Brands Differ On Top Shopping Channels

Consumers and marketers remain at odds about their channel preferences as they enter this year's peak shopping season, according to Celtra’s 2021 Holiday Marketing Survey, conducted by Dynata. 

Consumers prefer email for marketing communications — 35% say so. And 24% like social media, although only 6% say they would buy there. 

But 47% of marketers put social media out front (i.e., paid and influencer marketing), saying it will be the top channel to drive fourth-quarter revenue this year, followed by CRM marketing (34%) and display/programmatic (19%). 

One thing that seems clear is is the growth of digital in the mix: 62% of shoppers plan to buy both online and in-store. But only 21% will use the brick-and-mortar channel overall. 

For their part, 38% of marketers expect that over half of their holiday sales will come from digital. 

Of the consumers polled, 60% plan to purchase more on retailers' websites, and 35% on mobile. 



All that said, people are starting early — 27% in October and 30% in November. Only 11% are waiting until December to commence. 

Don’t expect huge growth overall — 40% of shoppers plan to spend the same amount as last year. 

But some brands will do better than others: 48% of shoppers want personalized products and offers, and 77% are more likely to purchase with brands that personalize content through the entire online journey, they say. 

Moreover, 55% are more loyal to brands that localize their content.

But be creative — 61% find holiday creative to be repetitive. And if you want to really reach them, 32% crave inspirational content for gift ideas. 

How are marketers scaling up? The study found that 51% are adopting new technology like automation. In addition, 66% plan to produce more creative assets, 47% will do so with the same resources they had in 2020. 

Marketers face several hurdles — for 38%, a top challenge is having assets ready on time, and 38% are concerned about having more personalized content. 

And, 38% of marketers say their biggest holiday goal is consistent creative and design across channels. 

"This holiday season, it's crucial for marketers to tell brand stories at every moment," concludes Eli Chapman, CMO of Celtra. 

Chapman continues, "In many instances, paid impressions are the only touchpoint you have with your audience — so staying on-brand at scale will either make or break your brand."

Dynata surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers on August 4-5. In addition, Celtra surveyed 47% staffers in brand, creative and content departments in July.

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