MiQ MiQ 21 October 2021

How to Unwrap New Consumer Behaviours in Time for the Holidays

For the past year, we’ve all had to strike a balance between online and offline in every sphere of our lives – from working, socialising to even consuming media. This has been the most noticeable in how we now shop. But while online purchases have seen a massive uptick, us Brits still want to buy goods in the real world. By Dean Nagib, Commercial Director at MiQ.

This new, blended way of shopping is here to stay. And with Black Friday and Christmas on the horizon, the question is already on every retailer’s lips; how will this trend impact busy trading periods?

Using valuable insights from our research as well as our client’s unique experiences, we’d like to shed light on the shifting patterns of British consumers and how marketers and advertisers can gear up to make the most of the seasonal spend surges. 

Hybrid Shopping

With virtually all brick-and-mortar shops reopened, 72% feel confident about going back to physical stores to shop for essentials, while 62% said the same about non-essential purchases. In fact, more than half (53%) of British consumers are prone to purchasing essentials in-store, while 43% do the same for beauty goods.

However, even when customers opt for an in-store purchase, online research is still an important stop on their buying journey. 13% of the audience who went shopping for beauty and personal care products offline, conducted some form of online research within the 72 hours prior to their offline visit. 

Meanwhile, click and collect has proved to be another hugely popular integrated shopping model. This period between research and purchase/filling in a digital basket and collecting goods in person, leaves great opportunities to influence consumer choices. It is also important to note that this year customer research is likely to begin earlier than usual with potential buyers starting as promptly as October. 

However, non-essential items including consumer electronics, books and even more expensive big-ticket electronics have a reasonably large online audience fluctuating between 30% and 35% of respondents. 

With offline and online shopping more connected than ever, retailers and brands need to find ways to connect these user journeys and drive consumers’ interest to their products – especially before the holidays come along.

Read The Pandemic Effect and discover new ways to adapt to changing customer behaviour this holiday season.

New Approach to Seasonal Trading  

Many companies might be facing rushed decisions ahead of seasonal trading periods. If done right, the results can be immense – 65% of British shoppers between the ages of 25 and 34 and over half (58%) of those aged 35 to 44 declared plans to shop during the holiday season. Furthermore, an average UK consumer will spend £305.65 on their Christmas shopping.

While an emphasis on impact and awareness to cut through the clutter will not change this year, brands should definitely try to influence customers a bit earlier than usual for those seasonal moments. 

As our study illustrates, holiday shopping research and purchase timelines in the UK will significantly stretch compared to past years. While most demographics are predicted to start looking for gifts in October and continue to show interest in purchases up till the Boxing day sales, in 2019 consumer interest peaked during the second half of November.  

With that said, these changing consumer behaviours should be taken into consideration when preparing an effective digital marketing strategy for seasonal trading periods. 

Reaching your Digital Audience

Firstly, understanding these new segments of holiday consumers and having a plan to customise strategy according to these personas will be essential. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work for significantly varied hybrid groups of consumers.

For instance, we’ve found that online and social ads will be the most effective in informing users of ongoing promotions, particularly among those between 25-34 (46%) and those from 18-24 (45%). But slightly older audiences 45-54 (44%) and 55-64 (48%) will be more impressionable with promotional emails. 

From our perspective, many clients dedicated their ad spend to addressable channels, such as social media and smart TV platforms last year. This year, we expect brands to shift to more traditional, brand and inspiration-led communication to drive consumers back in-store. 

There is still a large emphasis for a number of our clients, who are focussing on their Christmas plans to switch to a combination of digital, TV/BVOD/VOD to help peak audience’s interests using a much higher frequency.

To truly influence all the audiences you’re aiming to reach, the focus should pivot towards the omnichannel interplay. As the pandemic drove adoption of emerging channels such as connected TV, games consoles and programmatic audio, omnichannel can help achieve higher engagement and incremental reach. 

As for non-traditional Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands, they have seen big growth in ecommerce. It is likely that companies with this capability will continue to thrive while brands that rely on other retailers to sell their products in large quantities, will gradually expand into this area to adapt to this change in consumer habits. 

With that said, organisations without a DTC offering are now looking at ways to get their products directly into the hands of consumers aside from reaching them through the retailers. A good way for marketers to meet today’s consumers is incorporating DTC into their marketing strategies. 

With significant differences in approach to digital advertising between 2020 and this year’s efforts, it is important to understand how customer-centric data can help better prepare for seasonal trading. This year more than ever, the challenge is to unearth learnings about your audiences and determine which channels are the right ones for your hybrid shoppers. The right blended digital approach will make sure brands are kept on their customer’s nice list.

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