How the habits of festive shoppers are shifting

festive-shopping-Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Whether you’re an early planner or a late buyer, a new survey, from programmatic ads firm TripleLift, has found the the habits of festive shoppers are changing. 

The Golden Quarter – covering the pre-Christmas period from October to December – is a crucial time of year for consumer spending globally, TripleLift said. 

In 2021, brands saw record online sales during this period, generating over one trillion dollars. 

Increasingly, a successful Golden Quarter depends on a combination of factors: consumers’ buying time, priorities, and perspectives.  

Festive shopping

Traditionally, the holiday shopping season has been considered to run from the Black Friday sales – usually taking place on the last Friday of November – up until Christmas day. 

However, in the last few years there has been a shift in when shoppers are completing their festive shop.

This year, 67% of UK shoppers stated that they had finished their shopping by early November, although seven in ten intended to take advantage of Black Friday sales and 50% of them will be shopping on Boxing Day. 

While consumers are now starting to look for gifts earlier, they are generally completing their shopping in a shorter space of time. 

The shopping period for 2022 is estimated to be less than six weeks – a full week shorter than it was four years ago. 

As the window of opportunity narrows, brands need to be even more impactful and timely with their advertising campaigns to capture shoppers’ attention when they are more likely to make an action. 

The latest UK retail figures show early deals drove an increase in spending across online retailers in the four weeks leading up to Black Friday. 

The 2022 TripleLift survey discovered that shoppers can be split into three distinct groups:

  • The Early Shopper – Consumers doing most of their shopping ‘Before October’ and through ‘Early November’.
  • The Cyber-Week Shopper – Consumers shopping a Cyber Week Event – Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • The Late Shopper – Consumers doing most of their shopping in ‘Late November and December’.

These three groups demonstrate different needs and habits, and therefore must be advertised to in unique ways. 

This is especially important considering that consumers are 5% more likely to tune out of general holiday advertising. 

Campaign creative should be aligned to the needs of each individual group to achieve maximum impact. 

Early shoppers in the UK, for example, show stronger affinity with imagery of only the product versus the product in use and headlines with motivational offers, while later shoppers respond better to brand logos.

Demographic factors also alter how consumers respond to ads. Shoppers aged between 18 and 24 demonstrated lower affinity for creatives across all industries – Retail, Food & Beverages, Travel, Home décor, Health & Fitness – headline communication styles, and imagery preferences. 

However, utilising a brand name in a headline while showing a product in use was a more powerful way to attract their attention. 

In contrast, consumers above the age of 35 engage with ads more when headlines include an offer, or a discount. 

Christmas presence: TripleLift SVP, Stoneman, says more dynamic approach to ad spend needed during festive season.

Consumer earnings also have an impact on creative success. Shoppers with income up to £45K/Year are 6% more committed to offers than those earning above £45K/Year. 

John Stoneman, SVP Global Demand at TripleLift, said: “The Golden Quarter is a key period in a marketer’s calendar, but with inflation and supply shortages impacting consumers’ spending patterns, it is also increasingly harder to plan for. 

“Brands need to adopt a dynamic approach to their ad spend, planning their campaigns earlier, testing creatives and making use of different ad formats to deliver the most efficient and performant message at the right time.”