Holiday Shoppers Are Ready—But Are Marketers Prepared?

3 ways to capture consumer demand this season

My sister called in a bit of a panic the other day. She was worried about holiday shopping and getting gifts to my kids in time for Diwali. After all, she doesn’t want to lose the title of Favorite Auntie if she can’t follow through on their wish lists.

She’s always been a planner. But hearing my sister worry about the holiday season, even before Halloween, made me realize just how widespread the holiday panic is getting. Even consumer news channels are reporting on a fraught holiday retail season. This means everyday consumers like my sister are starting to get nervous—and they’re starting to shop earlier than ever.

This change in consumer behavior is actually good news for marketers. In a holiday retail year unlike any other, early shoppers bring unique opportunities. Don’t wait for the holiday crush to set in later. To win this holiday season, your season should start now. 

Beat the bottleneck

After 2020’s smaller holiday meals and canceled trips, people are planning to go big this year. Going big also means spending big. According to Deloitte, holiday sales could increase by as much as 9%, compared to 2020. 

Normally, marketers would welcome the challenge of increased demand. But this year’s concerns aren’t about the consumer. They’re about the container: whether gifts will even make it to shelves and homes on time. Between logistics issues, operational woes and labor shortages, there’s a real concern that supply won’t keep up with demand.

Like you, we’ve been watching these complex issues unfold. But timing is everything, and it’s actually on your side. Data shows that people are searching for holiday content earlier in the season than ever before. They’re already looking for holiday inspiration and shopping for gifts. They’re already ready for you. 

Be the holiday hero 

Don’t wait for supply and operational issues to pile up later in the year. Take cues from your audience and start your holiday push now. You can be the holiday hero—for your customers and your brand. Save people the stress of guesswork and save yourself from worrying about hitting all your holiday goals later in the season.

Here are three small shifts to help you capture shopper demand: 

Start your holiday messaging now: Don’t wait until cyber week to drive conversions. Encourage early shopping by highlighting the products and gifting categories you already have in stock. Maybe it’s not the full list of gifts you hoped for—and that’s OK. Start by marketing what you have in stock right now and keep adding over time as more inventory rolls in. This will help you ensure holiday sales, regardless of what happens later in the year. Plus, our data shows that people who shop early end up spending more.

Encourage in-store discovery: Help alleviate those last-mile concerns and get people into your stores. Run targeted campaigns to shoppers who live near your locations, and encourage them to browse in-store to find their favorite picks. Emphasize that in-store shopping is the best way to guarantee on-time delivery—because they’ll take it right home with them.

Refresh your messaging throughout the season: Lean into the holiday messaging early and often. You want to stay top of mind throughout the season, so you’re with people all the way from crossing off gift lists to buying that last-minute decorative accent. Remember to pivot your messaging as needed to reflect what you can offer and where people are in the process. And don’t forget about marketing gift cards, especially as the holidays get closer and people need quick solutions.

Understanding what’s at stake this year, a successful end to Q4 is critical for success in 2022. Luckily, there’s a way forward—and it might even be one of your best holiday seasons yet.