Year-Round Cheer: How to Cater to Peak Season Shoppers In-Store Now
Christmas in July? Not quite, but since a sizable portion of shoppers plan far ahead for the holidays, now is the time to begin engaging them.
We’ve identified four main types of holiday shoppers, based on data from Google and Cardlytics around timing and mind-set — two of which are historically on the lookout for holiday shopping deals early:
- Robins: the well-known “early birds”
- Turtles: slow and steady wins the race
- Foxes: wily deal-seekers who emerge on Black Friday
- Rabbits: last-minute, mission-focused and in-store the week before Christmas.
Of these personalities, the two mostly likely on the lookout for holiday shopping deals right now are Robins and Turtles. These two segments tend to be some of the most avid shoppers, with each spending almost equal parts of their time researching and shopping. They are:
- Robins: Early birds are focused on getting in and out of a store quickly and complete most holiday shopping by Thanksgiving. This ultra-organized group comprises 25 percent of shoppers.
- Turtles: Thirty-eight percent of shoppers are categorized as turtles, the largest segment of American shoppers. For them, slow and steady wins the race to buy the best gifts as they continue to shop for weeks or months.
Flying With Robins, Swimming With Turtles
Robins make up nearly a tenth of total holiday spend in any given year, according to Cardlytics data. Nearly 90 percent say something in their shopping experience will convince them to make a purchase they were hesitant about or not planning to make. Promotions or limited product availability can be helpful to encourage their purchasing. One way to do so is by using displays that highlight the limited nature of some gifts and sales. Another is to put products you’d like to sell directly in a Robin’s path — e.g., entry, checkout, or both.
Turtles are responsible for the largest share of holiday spend (42.6 percent). They never really stop shopping. Turtles visit 20 to 25 stores throughout the season, and meander through stores for months. Value is key to these shoppers. Therefore, include displays that speak to these shoppers about gifting long before peak season starts. Furthermore, remind them to return often for great deals to come.
Cover Your Bases
To say this year has been unconventional is an understatement. Therefore, making predictions about peak season is more difficult than ever. Be sure all shoppers feel comfortable and can find the gifts they’re after. Here are three safe bets to implement this year:
- Provide alternatives. For those who are uncomfortable with or unable to shop in pre-pandemic fashion, provide alternatives like online shopping, curbside delivery, or buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). Ensure sales, specials and limited-time offerings are available across your platforms. Consider special shopping hours for at-risk consumers.
- Create safe spaces and communicate to shoppers. Make retail spaces feel clean, safe and inviting. Communicate with shoppers ahead of their trip and let them know your cleaning protocols. Tell them about protective measures such as masks and shields. Provide them with details on shopping/numbers/directions.
- Gifting help. How can you make these early shoppers feel comfortable with their “early” purchase? Can you extend the return policy for those who indicate their purchase is for a holiday gift? Or include a bounce-back coupon with an extended expiration date? Use signage to highlight these specialized return policies.
You're helping these early shoppers with key holiday purchases. Therefore, make sure you understand their shopping habits and preferences, and do what you can to make these purchases easy, safe and as seamless as possible. Doing so will likely gain their trust and dollars for years to come.
Lise Wilson and Susan Brock are vice presidents, retail strategy at Miller Zell, an innovative experience design solutions company.