Holiday shoppers are begging brands for help. Are you listening?

Emily Eberhard September 2018 Consumer Insights, Retail, Omnichannel

Today, 76% of U.S. holiday shoppers over 18 use three or more channels.1 That’s a huge number of people searching on their smartphone, visiting a retailer site, or going into a store to uncover new brands and products or rediscover old favorites.

But with so much choice at their fingertips, folks are finding holiday shopping overwhelming. To cut through the clutter and feel confident in their choices, these shoppers are begging for help.

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We’ve taken a look at recent shopping behavior trends to see how brands can better assist shoppers with navigating this bustling shopping period. So, grab an eggnog and read on to learn how people want help this holiday season. (You can find all the data from this piece here.)

‘Help me find you — wherever I am, whenever I want’

Research shows that 61% of shoppers are open to buying from new retailers during the holiday season, and in the 2017 holiday season, almost half of them did.2 This year, we’re seeing that people are more open to discovering and trying new brands than ever before. As proof, mobile searches for “brands like” and “stores like” have grown over 60% in the past two years (e.g., “stores like Urban Outfitters,” “stores like Victoria’s Secret but cheaper,” “brands like Patagonia”).3 Assisting them when they need you can be a great opportunity to convert new customers. But it’s also a timely reminder that you must nurture existing customers’ needs too.

Continuing to provide assistance via mobile is critical. Shoppers are turning to their smartphones for shopping help with even greater frequency. In fact, in the past two years, searches for “shopping app” have jumped 90%, while searches for “online shopping” has grown 180% in that same period.4

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It’s also worth noting that video has become a favorite research tool for holiday shoppers. Nearly two-thirds of shoppers say online video has given them ideas and inspiration for their purchase.5 And more than 90% of these folks say that they’ve discovered new products and brands via YouTube.6

We’re also seeing that shopping is not centralized to the typical promotion days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. People are always shopping — before, during, and after the holidays. In fact, only about 18% of shoppers consolidate all of their shopping to the Black Friday-to-Cyber Monday weekend, and by the Black Friday-Cyber Monday period, shoppers have already completed 42% of their holiday shopping.7 An always-on strategy is critical to reach people whenever they need you — not just when it suits your campaign calendar.

‘Please make it personal’

When it comes to finding what they want, people expect brands to return just the right results, tailored to them. More than half of consumers say they were interested in seeing personalized content when shopping.8 They wanted things such as relevant deals from sites they regularly shop or a reminder of where they left off last time they visited a site. And 4 in 10 holiday shoppers are looking for retailers to remember personal details, like past sizes and items they’ve purchased.9

Even when searching for gifts for others, shoppers want results that are more specific and personalized to their immediate needs. For instance, searches for “gift + ____ year old” have seen a two-year growth of over 100%, while searches for “gifts for dad” have grown over 80% during that same period.10

Brands wanting to win over this year’s holiday shoppers must take note: one-size-fits-all is no longer acceptable. Listen to your customers. Anticipate what they want. And deliver it to them in a personalized and seamless way.

‘Don’t waste my time’

With more to do and less time to do it, people want their shopping experiences to be frictionless and efficient — especially over the holidays when there are a million other things taking priority (that pumpkin pie isn’t going to eat itself). To help get things done, these shoppers rely heavily on technology.

Last holiday season, shoppers said half of all their online purchases were made on their smartphone.11 And last-minute shoppers seem to be less loyal to their favorite stores, with 1 in 3 saying they choose where to buy their gifts based on how soon they can get them.12

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For those shoppers who still prefer to buy offline, mobile helps them get there. Searches for “shopping near me” have grown over 200% in the past two years.13 And if they do head into a store, holiday shoppers want to know their trip will be worth it — 41% wish that stores would do a better job of sharing inventory.14

Help your customers to help yourself

Don’t let the holidays be a headache for your customers. If you provide relevant, personalized, and efficient assistance, you’ll stand out from the crowd. Start by asking yourself: Will I be giving my customers the help they need this holiday season? Doing so could be a big step toward reaping long-term customer loyalty and business growth.

Your holiday guide to the consumer's shopping journey