Differences In How Consumers Shop This Year

How are consumers expected to shop differently this holiday season?

Criteo held a virtual meeting this week to discuss holiday trends in 2021. The company claims it sees more than three times the amount of ecommerce data as Amazon.

Across Criteo’s network, that amounts to more than 20,000 commerce clients, 4 billion products SKUs, 3,500 product categories and 650 million daily active uses.

Sales were up 22% in August and September 2021, compared with levels prior to the pandemic in 2019.

During the presentation, Tim Rogers, senior vice president, omnichannel and CRM at Criteo, and Sherry Smith, managing director of retail media in the Americas at Criteo, called out three trends driving an earlier holiday season: constant commerce consumer behavior, inventory shortages and shipping delays.

One of the more interesting stats for search marketers: 30% of consumers will try a new online store because of early holiday deals, well ahead of Black Friday. On average, U.S. consumers start researching Black Friday deals 14 days prior, as they look for discounts and to avoid sellouts for products such as video games and toys. One-quarter of consumers research purchases one month before their Black Friday buys.



Limited inventory is prompting product research, demand and early purchases, according to Smith. About 30 days worth of Criteo data in September shows the keyword “gift” rose 26% this year across retail sites, compared with last year.

A few categories in which Criteo sees a shortage include a rise in pricing. Video games, for example, the price rises about 3.8% weekly, Smith said.

Backordered items will cost retailers and brands money. Forrester analysts predict brands will lose 50% of sales on backordered items unless they compensate with improving the customer experience.

Pre-pandemic, approximately one-third of global consumers said they would look for a product elsewhere if it was out of stock in the store of their choice. 

Product shortages will lead to frustration. In turn, that could negatively impact customer loyalty. Customers are already frustrated by empty shelves and long wait times to receive products, per Forrester, something the research firm expects to worsen before it improves.

One interesting trend to note: Consumers will strengthen their loyalty to two or three brands, according to Forrester. Next year marks “unprecedented experimentation,” where consumers are more willing to try out unconventional brands, alternative ways to buy and innovative systems of value (such as NFTs) than they were at any point in the past 20 years.  

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