It’s the most jam-packed time of the year – aisles stuffed with products, people bundled in coats, and the smells of pine and peppermint everywhere. Whether a retailer or consumer, we all know the rush of the holiday season.
In the past few years, social distancing altered the landscape of shopping trends, so it’s important to stay up to date on consumer preferences. Prepare for the wave of holiday shopping with these nine consumer trends for the most exciting end to the calendar year.
After spending so long inside and the large shift to online shopping, consumers are still wavering on where to go. In 2021, almost half of surveyed shoppers still want to hit the streets and browse the aisles in person. They mention a preference for the physical feeling of examining products and the lack of lengthy return policies.
However, there is still that other 54% of people who prefer to shop online. The ease of adding to your cart from the comfort of the living room couch is certainly a plus for many people. These consumers do not exclusively shop online, though, and still visit brick-and-mortar stores from time to time.
Prepare for the surge of shopping by solidifying both in-person and online processes. Is your website optimized for the heavy lifting of many orders at once? Do you have a trained and plentiful team to reduce wait times and product shortages?
Planning for both online and in-person shopping will ensure a smoother ride through that holiday wave.
Say goodbye to Black Friday, because holiday sales are starting earlier and earlier.
In the past decade, the mass shopping day has slowly creeped out of fashion, with deals starting in November and even mid-October. The COVID-19 pandemic solidified early shopping as the norm because of product shortages across many industries. High demand combined with low supply can only mean a surge of purchases right away.
Now, in 2022, products and shipping are not as dire as the year before, but a lot of the practices remain in place. Shoppers are already gearing up for gift-giving, with 43% of people starting in October and 25% shopping in early November.
Get stocked in early fall to accommodate the increasing demands in October and November.
Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/243495/period-when-us-consumers-began- shopping-for-the -holiday-season/
Many people remember checking out at the grocery store as kids, tugging on parents’ sleeves for a chocolate bar off the rack. During the holidays, there is an even larger amount of colorful candies and stocking stuffer products in the line. Of course, the placement of these displays is intentional, urging consumers to grab one last thing before bagging their items.
This process is called impulse buying, and it can be utilized for a variety of products, such as candy, toys, beauty products, and clothing. Consider setting up a point-of-purchase display of commonly needed items like batteries or socks near checkouts to subtly remind consumers of items they need to buy, or unique objects they’d like to try.
Limit offerings so that the point of purchase displays do not become overcrowded or overwhelming. Instead, place discounts and deals on these items to entice consumers even further.
Considering what your base would want is important as well. Studies show that Gen Z is the most impulsive purchaser, with Millennials at a close second. Products targeted toward these younger audiences will ultimately bring in the most revenue this holiday season.
Online shopping is here to stay, and so are many offerings that rose in popularity in the past two years of social distancing. Many consumers have become accustomed to changes like cashless and contactless payments. With these tools, there is an increased distance for health reasons and flawless records from digital computing.
QR codes are also creeping up in popularity for menus, parking spots, and product descriptions. Reduce cashier wait times by continuing or revamping these practices.
Curbside pickup is another innovation that has really resonated with consumers. As a mix of in-person and online methods, the consumer can place their purchase on an online portal or through the phone and then have an employee safely deliver the product from the parking lot.
To have a successful curbside pickup option, you need a great website that has a clear and smooth design. Customers want ease, and if they have trouble selecting items for their cart or finding products in an antiquated search bar, then they may look elsewhere for their business. If you haven’t already prepared for holiday mobile orders and curbside pickups, now is a great time to start.
Sadly, this isn’t an option for every business. Imagine a hairdresser snipping your hair through a cracked window. However, for those who can offer this seamless transition from shelf to trunk, consider implementing this for a rise in revenue and appreciative consumers.
Loyalty programs proved incredibly effective last holiday season. Discounts and incentives for money off in the future help to build brand loyalty. Knowing that their continued shopping with your establishment will lead to savings in the future is a vital way to get consumers coming back for more.
In fact, in 2022, 79% of people considered loyalty rewards programs to be a factor in whether they will continue shopping with a brand. Customer service is not far behind at 77%, but these two factors go hand in hand. Warm interactions usually lead to customers considering signing up for the programs in the first place.
Again and again, price is king in consumer trends, so consider how your discounts and loyalty incentives stack up against competitors this season.
Year after year, consumers continue to choose price as their number-one determinant in making a purchase. In 2022, 92% of people considered price to be important when buying for others and themselves. The second most popular option was ratings and reviews, and then shipping and delivery costs.
With this data at your fingertips, it is easy to see how even the best marketing campaigns cannot outdo the power of a good deal. Surprisingly, only 11% of people mentioned that brand awareness on social media was vital to their purchasing decision. Therefore, think about how marketing efforts can place emphasis on the loyalty rewards programs, free shipping, and discounts and deals included in your holiday strategy.
Along with an emphasis on cheap prices is free shipping. Shipping costs are usually undetermined until checkout when a user inputs their address. Often, these costs can shock the consumer with an extra add-on price, leading them to abandon their cart.
This holiday season, consider strategies to lower or eliminate shipping costs, as it creates a streamlined and worry-free experience for the customer.
Also, update your returns policy so people can return the itchy sweaters and dusty knickknacks their distant relatives sent them. The smoother the experience, the happier consumers will be.
For many people, the holiday season is all about heartfelt moments and nostalgia. Giving personalized gifts can recall a memory, express profound love, and spread festive cheer. These personalized presents are only rising in popularity, with 83% of people searching for them, so if your products can be customized, take advantage of this trend.
If the business is more about services or standardized products, use warm and welcoming holiday imagery to invoke feelings of family and love. Personalizing the experience in-store by greeting customers and decorating the store for the winter months can also lead to more rave reviews.
The holidays are all about giving, so give yourself the gift of better sales and happy customers this year. Whether in-person or online, impulsive or early, consumers know what they want and will go shop for it.
As we perch at the edge of the shopping season, consider your options and prepare for a rush of sales by following these consumer trends. And always remember to enjoy winter fun as well – that hot chocolate isn’t going to drink itself!
About the Author: Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.