Customer Holiday Shopping Trends for the Online and Offline Niche

The holiday season is around the corner, and brands are gearing up for that time of the year when their sales are likely to reach new heights. But ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, holiday shopping trends worldwide have undergone tectonic shifts and it looks like it is time for marketers to look at the holiday season through a new lens. Brands need to consider several trends to activate holiday shoppers in a given product category to make the most of the busiest buying days of the year.

Before 2020, customers preferred in-store shopping for their loved ones during the holiday season, and at the same time, the popularity of online shopping was also steadily increasing. Reports indicated that older customers were opting for the traditional in-store shopping experience while the younger demographic was more responsive to online shopping. What are the holiday season shopping trends going to be like this year? Here is a detailed analysis to offer interesting insights for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Increased Spendings Online and Offline

It is reported by experts that in-store shopping would register a growth but without having any effect on the rapid growth of the online niche. Ever since the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, a large number of customers have returned to offline shopping. Still, at the same time, eCommerce sales have been recording impressive growth and, as per National Retail Federation, were pegged at $209 billion as of 2020.

Brands must plan for an even distribution between online and offline shopping avenues as both sectors offer growth opportunities. Some experts estimate that holiday spending this year is expected to grow by at least 7% compared to last year. This translates into almost twice the average annual growth. Marketers can use purchase-based targeting to reach holiday customers with advertisements targeting their preferred shopping mode. This will help in identifying and targeting heavy buyers, who usually spend almost 12x that the light buyers.

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Extended Product Discovery Cycle

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the global supply chains extremely hard, customers were left waiting for several weeks to receive their purchases; this included the necessities as well. Due to prevailing global circumstances and health concerns, there are chances that global supply chains will witness certain interruptions as well. However, the silver lining is that as the customers are better prepared for any such delays, they are expected to start their holiday shopping quite earlier compared to previous years.

Customers will likely explore multiple channels to identify suitable products for their purchases. As per reports, almost 40% of customers worldwide made their purchase decisions with the help of a search engine. This was followed by retail stores, brand websites, and third-party aggregators that stood at 33%, 32%, and 29%. Herein lies the opportunity for digital marketers to capture the holiday customers online as they are likely to start the research process online much earlier than in previous years. Marketers can use contextual intelligence to capture the customers’ attention while searching for certain products online. This strategy will help not only target holiday customers but also non-holiday customers. Through this technique, brands can target customers as they also search for some indirectly related topics.

Visual Tools for Decision Making

Video advertising has been gaining in popularity steadily over the last several years, and this trend is expected to continue for the present year as well. Many customers have reported that they are open to watching paid and on-demand videos in addition to free videos to prepare for the holiday shopping season. They are no longer dismissive of paid videos and are open to watching them buy. Almost half the customers have found that videos help them understand a product’s usage and then make a subsequent purchase decision. Additionally, customers who are not sure about their purchase decision believe that videos have helped them clear their doubts. Brands can leverage the growing popularity of video streaming to target holiday customers and high-spending audiences in different settings.

Hybrid shopping is another trend that marketers must keep an eye out for. Customers might prefer to experience the product in retail stores and then place an order on the website. Alternatively, they might place an order online but prefer receiving the delivery in-store. Hence, it becomes imperative for marketers to identify trending customer preferences and formulate a unique strategy accordingly to make the most of the holiday season.

While the pre-pandemic scenario is not expected to return anytime soon, brands must continue operating in the ‘new normal’ only. The new trends related to holiday purchases offer useful insights to marketers for formulating targeted advertisement strategies that help formulate an authentic relationship with the customers from the first impression itself.

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