How to Target and Convert Holiday Shoppers Amidst Economic Uncertainty

By Melissa Tatoris, Vice President of Retail, Zeta Global

Many consumers are tightening their belts when it comes to holiday shopping this year. With inflation at a 40-year high, ongoing supply chain issues, the economy top of mind, and a recession looming, this comes as no surprise. As we know, lower and middle household incomes are feeling the pinch, whereas higher incomes are projected to spend more than last year. But it’s not all doom and gloom -- brands can still capture their slice of consumer spending with a more nuanced strategy than in years past. Here are predictions and tips for the 2022 holiday shopping season and how brands can prepare accordingly, based on Zeta’s latest holiday retail survey.

Price Over Brand Loyalty 

In a survey of thousands of shoppers across North America, 68% of consumers said they’ll spend the same amount (26.65%) or less (26.37%) this year, and nearly 28% will focus on price over brand loyalty or even convenience. Getting more value out of a product will be key. Highlight the quality of your products, as consumers in a recession will want items that last and that they don’t have to replace. Show how shoppers can get multi-use out of certain items. For example, how can they add a new trendy piece to their current wardrobe to update - rather than replace - what’s in their closet?

Timing and Audience Targeting is Key

The majority of those who will shop (67%) will shop closer to the holidays. However, this doesn’t mean they’ll shop on the traditional peak holiday sales days such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Zeta data revealed that over half of consumers say these days aren’t as important as in previous years.

By no means should you ignore these key dates—you just don’t need to focus all your efforts around them. In fact, the bulk of your conversions will likely take place in late December, so be mindful of having enough budget to extend campaigns well into the end of the year. Target high-value audiences that will drive greater ROI. Work with the right partners to harness intent and interests to reach only those most valuable customers and their look-alikes based on demographics, sentiment, location, psychographics, and more.

This year, more than any other, is an opportunity to edge out the competition with highly relevant and personalized marketing messaging that shows your audience you truly care about their shopping behaviors.

In-store is Back and More Popular Than Ever 

eCommerce shopping will remain steadfast this year, but the majority of Americans will be shopping in stores, with department stores and discount stores taking center stage. Data is showing those with incomes less than $75k will remain with tighter budgets, shop at discount stores, and spend less than in previous years. On the flip side of the coin, those with greater household incomes are expected to spend more and shop in boutiques and luxury retailers.

Because of this shift back to in-store shopping, marketers must focus on “dwell time,” or ways to keep shoppers in their space. For example, Neiman Marcus in Dallas had an interactive snow globe that kids played in, while other stores and malls had visits from Santa last holiday season. Innovative in-store customer experiences are required to drive traffic and excitement to your brand. Executing on the experiential element using local partners for food samples, wine, DJs, free gifts, interactive games will bring steady foot traffic to your store.

Computers & Gaming Are Winners This Year

Electronics will be one of the most popular categories of gifts this year, perhaps as consumers gear up for a long recession over the winter. Our shopper survey found that 18% are prioritizing gaming gifts and 17% are eyeing computers. Other “It” electronics items include Apple products, video game consoles, mini pocket projectors, and 3-in-1 charging stations. Almost a quarter of shoppers will also focus on experience-based gifts such as travel and concerts, and almost 37% will seek ways to package up supermarket and other CPG-type gift cards to defray the costs brought on by inflation and recession.

Focus on optimizing your search marketing and website ads, as almost 24% of consumers report finding out about new products via these channels. With the right data partner, you can attach likelihood to convert attribution scores to top audiences and strategically bid stronger for those that will have a better ROI. Make sure your SEO and metadata are up to date, so your brand pops up at the top of search results. Use technology that helps you understand which channels work best for each consumer -- so you don’t waste your budget. Gain access to real-time response data to bolster that 1:1 customer relationship. Be smarter about the items you’re promoting and who you’re targeting in each channel, so you don’t end up with low marketing ROI that results in losing budget next year.

Marketers can still reach their target consumers and convert them into paying customers during times of economic change. This year, more than any other, is an opportunity to edge out the competition with highly relevant and personalized marketing messaging that shows your audience you truly care about their shopping behaviors.

NOVember 2022

NOV 2022