Holiday Promotions Start Long Before Black Friday, Experian Survey Reveals

Almost every day in November will resemble Black Friday as retailers will make overtures to shoppers much earlier and more often this holiday season. The most popular time period for marketers to launch their 2013 holiday campaigns is the first 15 days of November, and many discounts already were underway in early October.

These and other observations regarding the 2013 holiday season were revealed by Experian Marketing Services in a survey conducted of 212 marketing executives at major retail chains. Results, strategies and insights were shared by Experian on Oct. 24 in a webinar, titled: Magical Insights For The Savvy Holiday Marketer. The webcast examined the shift in holiday campaign timing as well as methods for enhancing campaigns, improving margins and more effectively connecting with customers. 

According to the survey, more than half (51%) of marketers planned to kick off campaigns during the first half of November. As many as 49% said they planned to launch their holiday programs before Halloween. June was the most popular month for planning holiday campaigns.


“Less importance is being placed on major holiday discount days, such as Cyber Monday,” said Bill Tancer, GM of Global Research for Experian Marketing Services, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Discounting will become an everyday practice leading into this holiday season and will continue throughout the period.”

The challenge for marketers “is to escape the chase for giving consumers the lowest possible price,” said Tancer. “Not every consumer is a deal chaser. Marketers are leaving money on the table when they don’t understand that while some consumers will only buy at the lowest possible price, others are not as sensitive to steep discounts.”

To better distinguish between deal chasers less price-sensitive consumers, Experian Marketing Services studied consumer psychographics and demographics around purchase behaviors and discounts. The firm then isolated statistics about consumers most interested in finding a deal. “There are certain groups to which marketers should target a deal, and those to which they should not,” Tancer said. “A shotgun approach is no longer viable as retail discounts continue to get steeper.”

Top Five Holiday Marketing Channels

The Experian survey also found that 83% of respondents planned to run cross-channel marketing campaigns during this holiday season. More than half (55%) would coordinate their campaigns across four or more channels.

The top five channels to be used for Holiday 2013 marketing campaigns were:

  • Online display (59%);
  • Email (55%);
  • Print (46%);
  • Search (30%); and
  • Mobile (24%).

Of the respondents planning to use mobile, 43% ranked mobile-optimized web sites as the top mobile activity. More than one third (37%) planned to create mobile-optimized email, and 31% expected to use mobile advertising.

A focus on the mobile channel for holiday promotions is key: “We found that multichannel retailers have a much higher percentage of their mobile opens as the holiday season begins,” said Tancer. However, “the majority of clicks (52%) still occur on desktops.”

Free Shipping The Top Promotional Tactic

Free shipping offers ranked as the top promotional tactic planned this year, with 39% of marketers expecting to integrate free shipping into their holiday strategies, according to Experian research. 

“Consumers have become increasingly aware of ‘Free Shipping Day,’ which takes place just prior to holiday shipping deadlines to give potential procrastinators a reminder and incentive to order their gifts in time,” Tancer noted. In addition, “consumers are searching for that term [free shipping]. Last year we saw retail traffic increase by 18% on that day.”

Second to free shipping, 28% of marketers said they planned to offer a daily deal, which Tancer said is not surprising. “The number of daily deals sent in the 2012 holiday season more than doubled from the year prior.”

Last year, Experian saw 50% discounts peak in December. By September of 2013, however, already 21% of campaigns were offering 50% off or more, and more than half (55%) were offering at least 25% off, according to Tancer. “These discount offers will get much deeper as we move further into this holiday season.” 

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