4 Tips for Holiday Planning Based on Back-to-School Trends
The kids are already headed back to school, and the way parents shopped for them will be an indicator of holiday purchase patterns. This year, major macro retail trends at play are upending how consumers shop as they prioritize different factors in their consideration process. Let’s look at how holiday 2022 might mimic back-to-school shopping trends so you can prepare early and effectively.
Boost Your CRM List and Model for Customers
Inflation has sent prices soaring, and necessities are outweighing wants. We noticed a huge shift in back-to-school shoppers prioritizing price above all else and choosing value over brand name. This means it’s time to shift your own focus from brand marketing to accentuating the value you provide. Focus on things like the quality of your products, the pricing compared to competitors, or customer testimonials. There’s a great chance you can acquire new customers if the price/value equation is spot on.
Hopefully, your CRM database got a boost from back-to-school shopping and you have a larger audience to reach. You can create a model using your CRM file as a seed to find other users that look like your audience profiles. You can use secondary calls to action (CTA) to drive prospecting performance. For example, include a CTA such as “Sign up for our newsletter” as a way to capture email addresses and remarketing pixels to drive lower-cost engagement for the middle/bottom of the funnel.
You can split your audience into full-priced buyers vs. those who are just bargain-hunting so you can continue marketing both your popular branded products and your more generic products to value-oriented or price-conscious shoppers. It’s crucial that you have a capable customer data platform partner to execute this successfully.
Capture the Sale by Whatever Means Necessary
The three Ps — price, promotion and placement — are all making a comeback, with value trumping not just loyalty, but convenience. It’s critical to meet your audience in the channel they desire. Use all of your available channels to increase the reach of your discounts, deals and product offerings. Testing new channels prior to the holiday shopping season is a great way to build sales. Some ideas:
- Market to customers and prospects via SMS, texting your audience when they’re near one of your stores. Or send them a message when they're in-store about a promotion to increase the likelihood that they make a purchase before leaving.
- Leverage social channels to promote deals, or sell directly to customers without them leaving the platform, cutting down on the number of steps it takes to convert.
- Use QR codes throughout your store to provide an opportunity for engagement where shoppers can look into the availability of a product or explore similar items of interest. If a requested item is out of stock, redirect to an option with a higher price tag.
Make Your Brand Enjoyable and Easy to Do Business With
Inflation is truly shifting the mindset of how people engage with retailers. They're comparative shopping while walking around in-store with their phones. The explosion of social commerce is shortening the sales cycle, accelerating from awareness to purchase in mere minutes in some cases.
Even if you’re out of certain items due to supply chain snarls or have to raise prices due to inflation, you can still hook a customer with your vibe. Recreate a stronger in-store experience with things like high-energy music, free gifts, or even samples. For example, partnering with local chocolate brands and DJs will not only create a great ambiance but also spark connections within the community.
Use your website, email, SMS, social and in-store experience to highlight similar products and sustain consumer interest. Deploy visual messaging to guide shoppers to your online “endless aisle” to remind them that even if a product is sold out in-store, it may be available online. Employ buy online, pick up in-store; transparent shipping; bot-free customer service; and easy returns to close your sale.
Get to Know the Competitor Landscape ASAP
As “it” items shift from big brands to generic, we’ve seen two trends emerge. First, consumers are shopping smaller and buying lower-sized or reduced quantities of goods because of cost. Second, people’s needs are at the forefront over wants. During the back-to-school season, people were shopping more sales, getting an item and putting it away for the holidays to avoid inventory shortages and price increases down the line.
Understanding where else your customers shop will help you better target them with the products they’re most likely to want or need. Employ scraping tools across the internet to mine competitor data that can help you ensure your products are either beating or matching those prices. You can then leverage this data in your marketing communications or offer a price-match guarantee. Also consider giving ideas for early holiday gift items to gain share of wallet in the run-up to peak season shopping.
Put a Bow on Your Strategy
Retailers should be doing small tests along the way to the holiday shopping season to gauge how to reach their most profitable customers faster in the channel(s) they prefer. Identify the difference against responders from your back-to-school campaigns and sharpen your holiday plans. With the right data, technology and marketing strategies, you can more effectively reach and convert your target audiences and make this holiday season one for the books.
Melissa Tatoris is vice president, retail at Zeta Global, a cloud-based marketing technology company that empowers enterprises to acquire, grow and retain customers.