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Rakuten Marketing Blog

2017 Holiday Marketing: Holiday Spending, Digital vs. In-Store, & Non-Traditional Gifts

Posted on Wed, Nov 8, 2017 @ 18:11 PM by Daniel James

Holiday marketing is hectic enough for holiday marketers! That's why we've taken a look at some key holiday shopper trends and customer behaviors making headlines and curated them in this blog post.

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2017 Holiday Marketing: Holiday Spending, Digital vs. In-Store, & Non-Traditional Gifts

With the holidays here there are countless reports on trends and behaviors that marketers can expect from holiday shoppers this year. We've taken the time to look at some key trends and curated them in this quick blog post to help you get the information you need. In this post, you'll find three key holiday shopper behaviors, as well as marketing strategies to connect with these shoppers. Keep checking back for more curated posts throughout the 2017 holiday season.

Big Holiday = Big Spending

New projections on holiday spending, reported by Adobe and noted in an article on Digital Commerce 360, projects that holiday shoppers will collectively spend $107.4 billion dollars in online shopping this holiday season. This is a year-over-year growth of 13.8% from 2016 when online sales totaled $94.4 billion. The article further notes that almost 20% of this $107.4 billion will be spent during Cyber Week (Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) with a projected total of $19.7 billion during these five days.

Adobe also made note of the role different devices will play in the holiday sales. The article projects that 24% of online sales will come from mobile devices, and 66% will come from desktops. This aligns with Rakuten Marketing data recently released in our holiday infographic, where we found that during the 2016 holiday season revenue and conversions were up for both mobile (+53% YoY revenue, +65% YoY conversions) and desktop devices (+18% YoY revenue, +16% YoY conversions).

A Rakuten Marketing survey also found that 53% of holiday shoppers will be looking to retailers for sales and discounts this season. Coupon sites were the second most popular outlet for customers to look for deals (22%), followed by comparison shopping sites (10%), and finally rebate sites (5%). 10% will be looking for savings through shipping costs, so if you have the opportunity to offer free shipping in some capacity, do so!

All this tells us that consumers are approaching online sales ready to spend and do so across different devices. The increased easiness of checkout on mobile over the past few years, as well as the ability to shop from anywhere and do things like compare prices, has made mobile increasingly important during the holiday season. However, a desktop is still the go-to device when it comes to most shoppers. Marketers and brands should make sure they’re targeting both these devices by ensuring their digital marketing is optimized for both, and that the checkout experience can be seamless and convenient. Additionally, keep in mind that customers will be looking at your site and beyond for deals and discounts, regardless of what device they’re on. Make sure your deals and offers are available on various channels, including coupon and comparison shopping sites.

Digital Will Edge Out In-Store…Slightly

One trend that every retailer has paid attention to the past few years is the impact that online sales have had on brick-and-mortar storefronts, especially during the holiday season. The story of Black Friday 2016 seemed to center around less in-store shoppers than years past, with more shoppers turning to the digital world for their holiday purchasing needs.

Now with Black Friday 2017 just weeks away, eMarketer has put out a new report citing that online shopping has slightly edged out in-store as the consumer preference. There isn’t a huge gap in preference, with 59% of consumers saying they plan to shop digitally compared to 57% saying they plan on shopping in a department store, and 54% saying they’ll shop in a discount store, but the message is clear. Additionally, the report noted that online shoppers planned to spend 70% more than their in-store shopping counterparts.

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The closeness in preference shouldn’t mean that, as a marketer, you abandon one strategy over the other. There will be enough shoppers both online and in-store that having a strategy for all shoppers in place is critical. Leveraging tools to track your customers through various channels is critical for this behavior. Cadence, the marketing attribution tool from Rakuten Marketing, is a great way to address this challenge. Keep in mind that as the holidays go later, shoppers will be going back and forth between online and in-store, so being able to track what’s going on as your customers move back and forth faster than before will be key to succeeding this holiday season. You should also be mindful of younger shoppers who will be interested in shopping in-store for the experience.

Material Goods Aren’t the Only Gifts This Year

Our monthly advertiser webinars have focused heavily on holiday/Q4 prep since July, and in almost every webinar someone will ask us this question: ‘what should my strategy be if I’m not a retailer that sells material goods?’

The question is a valid one: not all brands sell a tangible product. Many different brands work in travel and experience industries. That can make it feel like a challenge to participate in a holiday where the sales seem to be centered around physical products, right?

Wrong. A recent study by Deloitte and cited on eMarketer found that only one-third of holiday shoppers’ budgets will be going towards gifts. Deloitte discovered that while customers plan on spending about $430 on gifts this year, about 40% of holiday spending was going to be focused on socializing. Additionally, 27% of shoppers said they plan on gifting experiences “such as concert tickets, vacations, and dining out” in lieu of traditional material goods.

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This is both great news for brands and advertisers that work in seemingly non-traditional gift industries and not much of a surprise thanks to certain demographics. Brands that focus on travel, experiences, the food industry, or some other vertical should focus on their messaging this holiday season. Promote sharing experiences with loved ones and giving them “the gift of an experience they won’t forget.” This can be achieved through all digital channels, so be sure to evaluate data to see which touchpoints are the most successful at driving engagement and get the messaging out there. Also keep in mind that these trips and experiences could range from "soon" to "months in advance," so highlight holiday deals for experiences throughout 2018.

Keep in mind shoppers who are helping drive these non-traditional gifts. It’s been heavily covered that Millennials and Gen Z are both demographics that value experiential purchases over traditional material ones, and the holidays will be no exception. You can help people shop for loved ones in these generations by promoting out offers, or targeting these generations directly through affiliate partners that can help you reach them.

The holidays are here, and as they move forward we’ll see new data and trends both internally and externally by the day. Rakuten Marketing is committed to providing you with as much information as you need to be successful. Be sure to check our blog and read our newsletters to be regularly updated on what is happening this holiday season, and how you can make sure your marketing efforts can deliver based on these trends.

Tags: Holiday Trends, 2017 holidays, Holiday Marketing

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