Will Consumers Greet Your Ads With “Ho Ho Ho” or “Ho Hum” This Holiday Season?

Expect different purchasing behavior from shoppers this year

The holidays are right around the corner, but the lackluster economy may force us to adjust our strategies. How will the current conditions affect holiday spending? Who plans to go all out this season, and who will be reining it in?

To find out, Vericast asked people about their holiday shopping plans, preferences and priorities as part of the June Awareness-to-Action Study. Here’s what we learned:

People need deals

With a cloudy economic outlook, consumers must stretch their dollars further. They’re more attentive to prices. Vericast’s 2022 CPG + Grocery TrendWatch notes that 61% of grocery shoppers say inflation is their biggest shopping challenge. And in the June Awareness-to-Action Study, 27% said they will look for stores that offer the best deals and sales for holiday gift shopping.

People plan to spend less

Some consumers did indicate that they plan to spend more this year, specifically Gen Z (32% plan to spend more), parents (27%) and those who are very comfortable financially (32%). But overall, 46% of consumers said they plan to spend less this holiday season compared to last year. And it’s not just gift buying. In the survey, 41% indicated they will dine out less over the last few months of the year.

People plan to shop later in the season

The Vericast survey data indicates people plan to delay their purchases this year. Slightly more than half of shoppers (53%) will begin their holiday shopping in November or December. Those who have a lot of savings and disposable income are more likely to get an earlier start to their shopping prior to October (29%), while those experiencing financial challenges appear more likely to be last-minute shoppers, waiting until December to start making purchases (29%).

People plan to shop both in-store and online

Some shoppers may be ready to browse the aisles again, going into brick-and-mortar store locations where they can see and touch merchandise, interact with salespeople and generally feel the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Of people Vericast surveyed, 23% plan to shop more in-person for food and beverages for holiday parties and meals, while 14% plan to do more online shopping for these items. When it comes to shopping for gifts, 32% plan to shop more online, while 22% intend to shop more in person.

Make the most of the holiday season

In light of consumers’ holiday plans, what can brands and retailers do to meet shopper needs and maximize their efforts during the busiest, most profitable quarter of the year? The exact issues and tactics will vary by vertical, so you may need vertically specific recommendations. But the following four rules should help give you the edge in just about any market. 

Give deals, deals and more deals: Consumers will buy from brands and retailers that offer deals. In fact, 60% of respondents to Vericast’s survey say coupons and discounts are more important than ever. If you want to catch shoppers’ attention, give them what they’re looking for—offer a discount or special deal.

Keep the conversation going: Based on Vericast’s survey, people will be shopping the whole season—some will start before October and others will wait until the last minute. Marketers will have to work extra hard to connect with consumers throughout the season. Plan to extend your marketing throughout this year’s shopping period so you capture consumer attention when they’re planning and purchasing.

Use omnichannel marketing: There’s no single outlier when it comes to how consumers like to receive their deals, so a “one-size-fits-all” approach to marketing simply will not work. Brands and retailers should cover their bases by engaging an omnichannel strategy that reaches their target customer at all the various places they may seek information about a product or brand.

Make it easy: People will be shopping in the store and online, both in equally heavy numbers. Present them with a seamless experience, making it easy to access products and discounts whenever—and wherever—they plan to purchase.

Holiday 2022 is likely to be very different due to this year’s continued inflation, supply chain challenges, gas prices and general uncertainty. But marketers who take the time to understand, empathize with and meet shoppers’ needs will find they will reap the rewards of loyalty and a successful holiday season well into the new year. 

Matthew Tilley is executive director of marketing for Vericast and leads content marketing for the company. He has more than 20 years of experience in digital advertising and consumer promotions to develop, communicate and distribute ideas to make modern marketers more effective.