The world today is more connected than ever before. New screens are appearing at a rapid pace and the time spent on those interfaces is constantly on the upswing, leaving the modern consumer “always on.” As brands approach this holiday season, the ever-presence of opportunity should be crucially factored in.
Today’s buyers are always ready to make a purchase, and their planning cycles are hitting earlier and harder than traditional models allow for. But technology also opens the holiday shopping experience, brings it right to the hands of the consumers and brings it to life. The smart brands will be ready to harness this power.
Is Retail Changing This Holiday Season?
The short answer is yes. Retail is transforming and consumer habits are the impetus.
The chief change is that shopping, for the first time in five years, is a majority digital-first. A study of holiday shoppers conducted by OpenX reveals that 53% of shopping will be done on digital channels this year. Not brick and mortar, not retail stores, but digital. And importantly, those with the highest incomes are also those most likely to never set foot in stores this holiday season—highlighting what is at stake for brands on digital. Even on what was once the biggest in-store holiday of the year, Black Friday, shoppers will find themselves as likely to shop online as anywhere else. Even baby boomers, statistically the least digitally-savvy of all populations are reporting intentions to spend 50% of their budget online, with that number only growing for all other populations.
Digital has also influenced consumer habits, which in turn, influence the direction of retail. Consumers are now constantly in a state of planning and purchasing. Both holiday shopping and buying are happening earlier than in the past, with almost a majority of consumers having begun to consider holiday shopping in September, and close to same amount actually making purchases. Brands that do not account for these new cycles are missing massive opportunities.
How Can Brands Achieve the Most During the Holidays?
So, what’s to be done? First and foremost, brands need to consider all the above when planning campaign strategies and making sure media plans are designed to meet consumers when, where, and via what channel they’re going to shop.
Mobile, as it has been a for a while, continues to be a chief accelerant this year. Consumers are spending more than three hours on their phones on average, and a lot of that time is spent shopping. In 2019, 1 in 5-holiday dollars are going to be spent via a mobile device. Digital shopping is happening everywhere and all the time and brand campaigns must be designed to cater to this truth.
That said, consumers are active on more different channels than ever before. Especially for smaller brands who are unable to be everywhere at once, knowing all the different places customers are spending their time is crucial. One big avenue on the rise is OTT and streaming TV. Millennials stream an overwhelming amount and do not watch linear TV. With streaming, the audience can be engaged right away, and can also be influenced to research or purchase while viewing. It’s a channel that is proactive, as opposed to the more lean back methodology of traditional TV. Audio and voice are emerging as important channels too. Podcasts and other audio channels are increasing in popularity and voice planning and buying is becoming a viable medium for the very first time. And of course, augmented reality (AR) is also transforming shopping, bringing to life product and experience before a consumer’s very eyes through immersive experiences.
These options allow for a great amount of personalization and specificity in targeting, empowering brands to go beyond random advertising, beyond even a log in, and present ads that make sense for a person, where they are and when they want to see them.
Retail is changing, but the smart brand will see change for what it really is, opportunity.
To hear more about how we help brands prepare for the holidays, get in touch today.