Research Reveals How Holiday Shoppers Plan To Shop

Holiday shoppers will trade long POS waiting lines for online shopping whenever they can, and access product data from desktops as well as smartphones, laptops and tablets. The majority (80%) of consumers will use multiple devices simultaneously this holiday season, according to the Pre-Holiday 2012 Consumer Intentions study, sponsored by Google. More than half (55%) of consumers surveyed said they will use both their smartphones and tablets, and less than a quarter (20%) plan to use both their laptops and tablets.

With more consumers shifting their focus to e-Commerce sites, retailers are seeking new ways to engage with the online shopper, such as email messaging. During a recent webinar, titled: When To Strike: How To Time Your Promotions This Holiday Season, Jim Davidson, Manager of Marketing Research at Bronto, shared insights on how retailers plan to engage with consumers online, including via email, this holiday season. He noted that two-thirds of marketers already have started sending holiday-related emails, while 31% plan to send their first email on November 26 or later.  Key points from the webcast were shared on Twitter via the #HolidayShopping hashtag.

This year, most (85%) of consumers will shop on one device and finish on another, noted Davidson. Shoppers transition to customers based on two primary activites, he said: saving and sharing their shopping information. “Consumers are using either bookmarks or shopping carts to actually save what they might purchase, or they are sending emails to themselves. Retailers need to take these tactics into account when they send their holiday emails.”


Additional findings from the Google study include:

  • 51% of consumers said they plan to research products online then visit brick-and-mortar stores, and finish their shopping online; and
  • 44% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, but make the purchase online.

“Retailers will need to understand this cross-channel experience,” said Davidson, “and why customers may be hopping from their computers to stores this holiday season.”

Black Friday Shoppers  Search For Clarity

To combat repetition in early and advanced sales prior to Black Friday, Davidson suggests storyboarding promotions ― or offering bits of information on upcoming sales in a series of emails. In the first email, “focus on the specific products and their price points,” he said. “As the promotion continues, and as Black Friday gets closer, take a different approach: The second [email] message should highlight the details of the previously selected items, while the final one can showcase the products but drive consumers to the actual web site for additional shopping.”

Shifting promotions to build anticipation for Black Friday is a great way to drive excitement for the “big sell,” said Davidson. However, retailers must clarify whether that promotion is available online, in-store or both. In addition, they must explain whether the offer is a discount or price reduction. “As marketers, we want to make sure we’re putting everything in front of our customers, and letting them know how they can save the most throughout all of their shopping,” Davidson said. “But you want to assure you’re not overwhelming or confusing them.”

Targeting The Cyber Monday Audience

To understand what promotions will work best for Cyber Monday, Davidson said retailers must investigate their Black Friday promotions response rates as well as what competitors are featuring on their web sites and/or in stores.

Most (88%) of Cyber Monday sales occur after 9 am, according to research from comScore, with volume lowest during peak sales periods. In addition, strategic remailing could lead to increased Cyber Monday sales, the research found.

When emailing any message, “you want to make sure that your subject line stands out as well; people aren’t going into their inboxes for ‘casual stroll’ shopping,” Davidson said. “If you’re looking to get the deal seekers to open your messages, you’ll need to think of subject lines that will compete with messages from other retailers.”

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