Retailers must think ‘beyond Black Friday’ and market on smartphones right now, warns study

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Retailers are being warned to think beyond just Black Friday and to target mobile with marketing across the whole final quarter as shoppers tell of how they long for help with gifting ideas.

Periscope® By McKinsey’s report The “2019 Holiday Season Shopping Report: Shoppers are ready to spend but retailers need to personalize” reveals that 52% of female shoppers in the UK and 50% in the US said that they get a jump-start on their holiday gift buying in the October-November timeframe, followed closely by 46% of female consumers in Germany and Canada.

As a result, the study says, savvy retailers will need to think beyond Black Friday, getting both the timing and targeting of promotions and deals right to capture those hyper-organised consumers keen to get their gift shopping tasks wrapped up early.

Female shoppers evidently represent a prime target from pre-October to early November which retailers would be remiss to overlook, whereas the mid-end of October to December timeframe is the ideal window to capture the attention of male shoppers (52% Germany, 50% Canada, 42% US, 39% UK).

For women, the focus is on gift purchases for the household and children, while male consumers shop primarily for their partner/significant other (and for themselves).

Where they browse

How they shop and look for ideas is also interesting. With almost half of consumers (47%) admitting that they are looking for gift ideas, browsing in-store was listed as the top research channel utilized by consumers in Canada (70%), the US (65%) and Germany (63%), while using search engines or browsing retailer websites were the second ‘go to’ research channel. However, the top preference for UK shoppers (74%) is browsing retailer websites even before browsing in-store (second).

Interestingly, catalogues, flyers and newspaper advertisements retain a certain appeal with over half (53%) of Canadian shoppers who say they depend on such resources, along with 40% of US, 38% of German, and 28% of UK shoppers.

To help inform their buying decisions this holiday season, consumers also welcome receiving marketing messages and communications from retailers that help inform and guide their seasonal shopping efforts. Promotional e-mails were by far the most preferred choice for the majority of shoppers in all territories surveyed while coupons took #2 spot for shoppers in Germany (36%), Canada (33%) and the UK (27%) – vying equally with TV and magazine channels for US shoppers at 38%.

Smartphone: ideal in and out of store

The report also suggests that, 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 select purposes whenever shoppers visit bricks-and-mortar stores.

The study findings show 51% of consumers use them to compare prices with competitors, 33% to search for in-store discounts or coupons, and 30% to look up further product information.

Retailers should not assume it’s only the younger generations are using their smartphones to compare prices/products, read reviews, hunt down coupons or purchase products they’ve looked at/touched when in-store. The research findings indicate that those over 50 and the 60-69 age cohort are also intrigued by such activities.

Taking advantage of a digitally enabled in-store shopping experience is also particularly appealing to consumers aged 18-39. For them, facilities such as mobile POS, digital displays to view products, the ability to self-check-out, and get offers on their phones all add up to a more convenient and consistent experience.

How much do they want to spend?

Asked about the monetary value of their holiday spend budgets, consumers in Canada and the US had allocated the highest budgets for their seasonal purchases; 18% of US and 16% of Canadian shoppers expect to spend $1000 or more. Meanwhile, shoppers in Germany appear the most muted with regard to their gifting budgets – with 14% saying they will spend less than $100.

A significant minority of shoppers (13% Canada; 13% UK; 12% Germany; 10% US), however, say they have not allocated budget this year – should they encounter the right gift idea, they may be prompted to shop, regardless of price.

A clear correlation between age demographics, regions and spending plans, is also revealed, with US shoppers aged between 40 to 49 indicating the desire to allocate higher budgets ($500 or more) on their seasonal shopping this year (52% of the age group). While the highest spenders in the UK switches to the 30-39 age group (46% of the group), shoppers aged between 50 to 59 lead the spending in Germany (21% of the age group, significantly smaller compared to the rest). Finally, shoppers between 60 to 69 are expected to the spend the most in Canada (53% of the age group).

Brian Elliott, Founder, Senior Advisor & Head of Innovation at Periscope By McKinsey, said: “Given these trends, it’s becoming clear that the winners of this holiday season will be those retailers who get personalization right, create omnichannel experiences, and win the battle of consideration by launching promotional campaigns earlier.”

Elliott continues: “The ability to target relevant and personalized offers is increasingly becoming the deciding factor in a retailer’s success. Added to that,” he continued, “shoppers have come to expect and actively engage in omnichannel experiences. Retailers have long recognized the reality that their customers shop in omnichannel ways but have been slower to implement truly omnichannel programs that can follow customer across the entire consumer decision journey. Finally, timing is everything: providing options early in a shopper’s planning cycle and/or providing curated and easy-to-navigate options for gifting will win the consideration battle.”

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