How to Use Holiday Shopping Behavior to Your Advantage

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Carolers, decorations, hot cocoa, and shopping! ?As a business owner, understanding shopping behavior and laser focusing your digital marketing can help you reach more customers and make more money! ?

You can’t just throw advertising out into the world and expect great results. That advertising needs to be based on data. Understanding who is doing the shopping and what, where, when, and why they buy is crucial to your digital ad success. 

The Top Shopping Categories Include Electronics, Clothing, and Gift Cards

Electronics, clothing, and gift cards rank consistently as the highest-ranked categories for gifts given across all age groups, although shopping behavior depends on location. I’m getting my data from Tinuti and you can download the whole report here (opinions and experience in SEO, paid search, social, and other digital marketing are my own).

Electronics are popular everywhere, but especially online. Shoppers at brick-and-mortar stores tend to prefer home goods, which makes sense. Nobody plans on buying sparkly tchotchkes until they see them in-store. 

Gift cards are increasingly common and should be advertised extensively, especially close to the holiday when last-minute shoppers are looking for quick wins. E-gift cards can be the perfect gift for procrastinating shoppers! ?

People Enjoy Buying Products That Benefit a Good Cause

Have you noticed the rising popularity of Giving Tuesday? The first Tuesday of December has become a rallying point for non-profits. ‘Tis the season to give and people love sharing the wealth this time of year ?

In addition to seasonal charity, there is a general interest in brands that do good. In fact, 55% of shoppers under 45 years old are willing to pay a premium for products whose proceeds benefit a good cause. 

Millennial women are the driving force behind this trend. While over 55% of women under 45 are willing to pay a premium to benefit a cause, only 48% of women over 45 are willing to do so. That’s over a 7% difference, showing that this trend may become more popular as younger shoppers become the majority of the market. 

Brands that champion causes like sustainability and cruelty-free are becoming more widespread and are raking in the dough because of it! ?

If your business has a noticeable cause, such as woman/minority ownership, selling indigenous products that assist the creators, environmentalism, building equity with homeless or economically disadvantaged populations, or other causes, be sure to share this with your audience! 

Shoppers Expect Omnichannel Fulfillment Prowess

One of the surprising results from this data is that physical stores are gaining shoppers back! While people are still doing holiday shopping online, many — 40%!— prefer to pick up in-store.  

While the vast majority of people plan to use the internet for their holiday shopping, most people expect omnichannel fulfillment capabilities.

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, allowing customers to order online and pick up in-store is the ultimate convenience, can drive sales for last-minute gifts, and can encourage shoppers to purchase something else once they’re inside the store. 

Only 5.3% of shoppers plan on shopping the old-fashioned way without the internet at all. ?

Everyone else is using their devices to research, compare prices, and/or buy online. 

What does this focus on omnichannel fulfillment prowess mean for your store? You should be promoting your in-store pickup across your digital advertising. Be sure to tell shoppers you have the service they want! 

Many Customers Will Return At Least One Item

Who has returned an ugly sweater from a well-meaning relative? ??‍♀️

I’m not the only one. 40% of shoppers returned at least one gift they received or purchased themselves in 2018. 

With a definite trend towards returning items, customers look to return policies to ensure the process will be hassle-free. 75% of shoppers are looking for a clearly-stated, painless policy,  

Knowing that shopping behavior includes returns, make sure your policy is clear on your website. Don’t make customers hunt for info or wonder if they will be able to return an item. 

Millennials Prefer Researching Gifts on Google

Millennial shoppers prefer to research gifts on Google versus Amazon (and, as discussed above, they also tend to return a higher number of gifts).  

These shoppers have small budgets, with 80% planning on spending less than $500 this holiday season. However, they do make the occasional splurge ?

Retailers who make the effort to reach out to shoppers in the 25-34 age range have the potential to build a lasting relationship with a group that is becoming an increasingly larger portion of the market. 

Your Customers are on Social Media and Google

Many shoppers may start out on Google, but most people don’t start and end in the same place. They may see an ad in one spot, research on Google, look to reviews, etc. 

Shopping behavior can be erratic. Customers go back and forth between multiple channels, including search and social. 

Google Ads, formerly Google AdWords, is particularly relevant for retailers this season. Paid social is also important to introduce your brand to the millennial population, most of whom use social media daily. 

But if you’re only using Facebook to market and sell your products, without considering paid search (particularly on Google, by far the most used search engine), you are missing a major opportunity. 

Social media can generate a lot of interest in your audience, but the major benefit of building up brand awareness on Facebook or Instagram is that it can help your other marketing channels ?

Once your target audience has been introduced to your products through social media ads, Google Ads can bridge the gap between research and clicking “Buy.”  Many shoppers turn to Google after seeing an ad on FB or IG, so if you are only on social media, these potential shoppers may turn to your competitor’s products. 

Shopping behavior is ruled by search and social, so I recommend going to where your audience is! 

Using these analytical insights into shopping behavior, you can create an effective marketing strategy this holiday season. Let’s identify your audience, engage them with relevant ads, close sales, and encourage repeat customers! 

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