A successful holiday shopping season is critical for retailers. Consumers have wholeheartedly embraced shopping incentives, organic search, mobile, and video as part of their holiday shopping experiences. Brands and marketers need to do the same. You can be visible and persuasive at these moments by understanding how consumers shop during the holiday season. Embracing organic search, and understanding the way consumers now use mobile and video for research, will help boost your holiday sales.
The holiday shopping season is expected to be quite strong in 2014, with sales forecast to grow 4 percent, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. As the crucial holiday period gets ever closer, and consumers are more connected than ever, Google has shared the latest in consumer shopping habits to help digital marketers reach consumers at the moments they’re looking for deals – and grow sales. Holiday shopping is no longer restricted to normal business hours. Google tells us that one-third of all shopping searches on the search engine happen between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. The data coincides with recent reports that indicate people are using their tablets and mobile devices into the late hours to research, read reviews, and evaluate purchases. Google’s findings confirm what many marketers may already have expected, for it has become quite a natural practice these days for many of us to read around the products and content we are interested in before bed. As the study aptly puts it “today’s shopper spends more time than ever researching purchases online at all hours of the day; we’ve gone from midnight snacking to midnight shopping.” Google conducted their annual Holiday Shopper Intentions research in partnership with Ipsos MediaCT, surveying consumers on their shopping behavior. Among the key findings: people are beginning their shopping earlier in the year. They are also using online video to research purchases much more so than in previous years. People are also increasingly turning to smartphones as personal shopping assistants. Here are four key facts marketers need to know for the holiday shopping season.
1. Black Friday Is A Crucial Month-Long Push For Retailers
The data indicates that people are beginning to research the products they are interested in earlier, with more than 50 percent of consumers surveyed saying that they would start their holiday shopping research before Thanksgiving, and 26 percent of shoppers saying that they would start before Halloween. Retailers are responding by stretching Black Friday promotions across November. No longer is the event a mad one-day rush of limited deals, but a much more strategic, month-long marketing push of deals, discounts, and incentives to complement one of the most important shopping months of the year.
2. More Consumers Rely On Organic Search To Research
Purchase journeys are longer and more complex. Shoppers are spending more time researching purchases, and consulting more sources before making a decision. Google states that in 2010, shoppers consulted an average of five sources of information before purchasing, but that has now more than doubled with shoppers consulting at least 12 sources on average, per purchase in 2013. For retailers it means that organic search performance, being visible and present to consumers, in the October/November period has become a business critical period. Ensuring consumers are seeing and appreciate offers, information, how-tos, and content you offer is key to achieving high revenues.
3. YouTube Is A Regular Part Of The Research Process
Video reviews, whether it be unboxing videos, or product comparisons, are becoming a standard part of the research process for many consumers. “Haul videos”, where consumers share their purchases of ‘hauls’ around major shopping events such as Black Friday have have been watched more than 1.1 billion times on YouTube, and views for the term are 1.7 times higher this year compared to last year.
4. Smartphones Are Personal Shopping Assistants
Google’s survey revealed that 75 percents of shoppers who own smartphones intend to use their devices in-store this winter shopping season. It marks a crucial change in the way consumers are shopping. While shoppers used to essentially do all their research and evaluation in-store, perhaps with the help of a sales assistant, today’s shoppers are now massively empowered with information, reviews, price comparison apps, and available discounts and offers with just a few taps and swipes. Retailers are therefore urged to understand and appreciate the way consumers are using mobiles in-store, making information fast, available, and responsive for mobile users. Rather than impeding sales, the survey indicated that 46 percent of shoppers who consulted a smartphone in store ended up transacting in-store, an 11 percent increase from 2011.