Get Prepped: Consumers To Spend More This Holiday
It’s 80 days until Christmas — and those holiday displays are starting to edge out Halloween merchandise on the shelves.
Wait, Halloween hasn’t even happened yet, right?
Be that as it may — yes, we are still more than three weeks away from Halloween —
the smart money is on the 2015 Christmas shopping season being brighter than last year’s. According to the 2015 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey from The NPD Group, consumers have a more positive outlook, and are looking to open up their wallets to family, friends and the needy. The mean spend for holiday shopping this year, according to NPD, is $619 — a 5 percent increase compared with what consumers said in 2014.
“Consumers are ready to spend for the holidays, more so than in recent years,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, in a statement. “However, manufacturers and retailers need to pay close attention to what is driving the consumer mindset, and deliver product that anticipates inevitable shifts in their thinking over the course of the season. Positive consumer perceptions combined with holiday promotions, could drive early impulse purchases, but the market has to deliver enticing product that consumers want and need in order to build on that momentum and keep them spending.”
Cohen makes a salient point: Retailers must be careful to offer promotions at the start of the season while not cannibalizing sales that might have come later. Many people browse early in the season and then wait until the last hours before the holiday to complete their shopping. Marketers face pulling off a tough balancing act of luring customers into the store in early November with bargains, and maintaining that enthusiasm profitably through the end of the year. Coupled that with the popular notion that there will be even better buys closer to Dec. 25 and the marketing department is in a quagmire: Damned if you discount too early, but double damned if they don’t and miss out on the increase in shopper traffic.
And don’t kid yourself, multi-channel competition is up. Brick and mortars are not only facing challenges from other traditional storefronts, but also from e-commerce retailers. And vice versa. That was true in the past but the pace is quickening. Don’t have a mobile app? You’re missing a sizable shopper segment. Have an app that offers little value and that’s possibly worse than not having one at all.
The mobile connection is important more than ever because a majority of consumers — almost two-thirds — said they will do pre-purchase research. Online research and consumer reviews are critical links for customers looking to stretch that $619 as far as possible. Don’t neglect cultivating honest reviews and including them on your site and make it easy to review a product or purchase through a mobile app. Consumers want quick, easy-to-access information, as well as real-life feedback on products from honest-to-goodness users rather than the stores selling them.
In the end, all the preparation will result in a solid brand presence log after the holidays. As Cohen noted:
“Just as the consumer mindset is one component to holiday success, the holiday season is one leg of the larger retail marathon – it’s not the finish line…Consumers are more complex, and marketers have more opportunities to reach them than ever before. Truly connecting with consumers requires interaction and omnipresence, emphasizing a complete experience that extends beyond channels, beyond traditional methods, and beyond the holiday season.”
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