Research Offers 3 Keys to Retailers Winning the Holiday Season
The holidays are just around the corner. Is your company ready? A recent Periscope By McKinsey study of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers examined shopping attitudes and behaviors for this coming holiday season. Findings not only revealed consumers’ plans, but also emerging trends with big implications for retailers.
Consumers Are Seeking Inspiration
With almost half of consumers surveyed (46 percent) admitted that they're looking for gift ideas, browsing in-store was listed as the top research channel by 65 percent of U.S. shoppers, while using search engines or browsing retailer websites followed.
The research also shows that consumers welcome receiving marketing messages and communications from retailers that help inform and guide their seasonal shopping efforts. Promotional emails were by far the most preferred choice for those surveyed, with TV and magazine channels taking the second spot.
Timing and Targeting is Everything
Findings reveal that savvy retailers will need to think beyond Black Friday. Getting the timing and targeting of promotions and deals right to capture hyperorganized consumers keen to get their gift shopping tasks wrapped up early is critical. Asked when they start thinking about shopping for the holidays, 50 percent of female respondents said they get a jump start on gift buying in the October-November time frame, representing a prime marketing target from pre-October to early November, whereas the end of October to December time frame is the ideal window to capture the attention of male shoppers (according to 42 percent of respondents). For women, the focus is on gift purchases for the household and children (38 percent), while male consumers shop primarily for the household (24 percent), followed by shopping for their children (23 percent).
Asked about the monetary value of their holiday budgets, 18 percent expect to spend $1,000 or more. A significant minority of shoppers (10 percent), however, say they haven’t allocated budget this year. Should they encounter the right gift idea, they may be prompted to purchase, regardless of price.
A clear correlation between age demographics and spending plans was also revealed, with shoppers aged 40-49 indicating the desire to allocate higher budgets ($500 or more) on their seasonal shopping this year (52 percent of the age group).
Mobile Has Transformed In-Store Shopping Behaviors
For today’s connected consumers, the smartphone has become a vital shopping aid. Far from diminishing the appeal of physical shopping, smartphones are being used for a variety of purposes in-store. Findings show 54 percent of consumers use their phones in-store to compare prices with competitors, 48 percent to search for in-store discounts, and 31 percent to research further product information.
Taking advantage of a digitally enabled in-store shopping experience is particularly appealing to consumers ages 18-39. For 70 percent or more of them, features such as mobile point of sale, digital displays to view products, the ability to self-check out, and the opportunity to get special offers on their phones all add up to a more convenient and consistent in-store shopping experience.
It’s clear that the winners this holiday season will be those that get personalization right, create omnichannel experiences, and launch promotional campaigns earlier. The ability to target relevant and personalized offers is increasingly becoming the deciding factor in a retailer’s success. Furthermore, shoppers have come to expect and actively engage in omnichannel experiences. Retailers have long recognized the reality that customers shop across channels, but have been slower to implement truly omnichannel programs that can follow customers across the entire consumer purchase journey. Finally, timing is critical. Those providing options early in a shopper’s planning cycle and/or curated and easy-to-navigate options for gifting will win the consideration battle.
For more information, download Periscope By McKinsey’s full report, 2019 Holiday Season Shopping Report: Shoppers are ready to spend but retailers need to personalize.
Brian Elliot is partner, founder and head of innovation at Periscope® By McKinsey, a platform that combines world-class intellectual property, prescriptive analytics and cloud-based tools with expert support and training to drive revenue growth now and into the future.
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