The holidays are upon us, and THE shopping weekend of the year kicks off in a matter of days. Do you know what to expect, and are you ready for it? Don’t grab the turkey carver just yet … we’ve got work to do.
Predictions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Despite the fact that many consumers got started on holiday shopping early in the fall (earlier every year!), the weekend following Thanksgiving is still the official “kickoff” of the winter holiday shopping season. Plenty of U.S. shoppers still focus on these days of sales, promotions and general commercial festivity.
Recently, Nielsen conducted a survey on the plans of holiday shoppers in the U.S. and found that just under half intend to start shopping before the technical start of the weekend – on the evening of the Thanksgiving holiday itself. In fact, 26 percent had already started before October. Still, 61 percent plan to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Nielsen also reports that 43 percent of consumers feel online shopping is easier on their schedules, which could mean a great Cyber Monday for retailers. Non-food products are helping to drive e-commerce growth at the moment, and the following items are seeing significant spending increases (advertisers in these markets, take note):
- Pet care: up 73.7 percent
- Personal care: up 32.9 percent
- Household care: up 23.6 percent
According to Nielsen’s VP of consumer insights, Jordan Rost (see video in previous link), different consumer segments approach shopping differently.
Millennials, for example, are more drawn to e-commerce, and are more likely than older generations to start shopping earlier. At the same time, they’re also more likely than older shoppers to make purchases later. Millennials use digital media to both get ahead and catch up on their holiday shopping.
Sticking with that polarization, Millennials are more likely to spend both more and less this year. Nielsen sees this generation of holiday shoppers as particularly fragmented.
Rost also talks about spending forecasts. According to Nielsen’s data, shoppers plan to spend between $250 and $500 on Black Friday in 2017, and similar parameters can be seen throughout the holiday season.
A full one-third of U.S. consumers plan to go out shopping on Black Friday for the first time this year, which means brick-and-mortar advertisers should be speaking to “newbies” in anticipation. These shoppers may be looking for an in-store experience to complement their online buying.
Nielsen anticipates that Cyber Monday will be a little less active this year than last. The thought behind this is that consumers are now so accustomed to shopping online and at all times and places that dealing with one day of sales and limitations doesn’t really fit with the way people like to shop online. Therefore, any random day during the season might be the peak day for e-commerce.
With that, Rost says it’s really about working to reach consumers throughout the holiday season, rather than just focusing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Forbes also has some predictions, based on data and thoughts from various experts:
Shoppers will use both digital touchpoints and physical stores. The stores might see less foot traffic, but will see more interchangeable activity between their brick-and-mortar and online locations. For example, buying online and picking up in-store drove the purchase decisions of 33 percent of consumers in 2016.
Mobile-optimized sites and processes will be in demand. Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be frantic, and tolerance for spotty mobile performance will be down. Optimize shopping interfaces, clean up mobile ads and product feeds, create friendly calls-to-action and accommodate the range of devices and payment methods.
Cyber Monday will be slightly more profitable than last year. Here, Forbes departs a bit from Nielsen’s prediction, yet agrees that Cyber Monday won’t make quite the historical splash that it did last year.
Recap of Thanksgiving Weekend 2016
Often, advertiser plans for the upcoming holiday shopping season are based on data from the previous year. In 2016, we looked closely at Black Friday and Cyber Monday and reported on the highlights of each.
Black Friday was a record-breaker for sales – individuals spent less, but about 3 million more people shopped than in 2015. Toys, electronics and video games were the most popular buys and mobile revenue was over $1 billion for the first time ever.
Cyber Monday was a record-breaker for online sales, and was actually the largest online sales day in history (almost $3.4 billion). Most retail site visits were from mobile, though most purchases still happened on desktop. Toys, electronics and video games were once again the most popular buys, and search ads were top drivers for more than one-third of sales. Social media was a significant part of creating Cyber Monday buzz.
Feast on The Holiday Ad Inspiration
Before you relax into that Thanksgiving meal, spend some time with your holiday ad campaigns. Are they ready to work hard for you leading up to and during the holiday weekend?