Mspark Predictions for 2019 Holiday Shopping

One of the neatest things about working for a direct mail company is that we work so closely with the retail industry – we sort of have front-row observation seats every year with every major shopping event. We take note of what’s changing and how consumers’ spending habits evolve over time. 
But where’s the fun in keeping all this to ourselves? That’s like baking pumpkin pies and hiding it from your Thanksgiving guests. Ok, maybe it’s not that cruel but you catch our drift. We have the opportunity to partner with our clients to help them see more success through our research and data capabilities.
Here are a few predictions we have for the 2019 Holiday Shopping season based on our research, last year’s event, what we’ve seen in recent years, and some good old-fashioned educated guessing.

Consumers Will Be Empowered

Like last year, 2019 Thanksgiving weekend shopping will be all about the empowered shopper – meaning we’ll see a lot of consumers shopping a variety of channels – online, offline, and through mobile devices. Last year the number of multi-channel shoppers increased 40% from the year prior. That’s 25 million more people using a combo of channels to do their shopping.
People who shop all channels also tend to be more valuable – spending about $93 more on average than single channel shoppers.  
How to Win Over Empowered Shoppers – They are reaching out to retailers in a variety of ways and retailers need to reach out to them in a variety of ways. Sure, Instagram is a fantastic way to reach millennial and gen z shoppers, but don’t underestimate print. There are many ways to incorporate print into a multi-channel strategy. And judging from the numbers, it’s a smart move. Integrated direct mail and digital campaigns elicit 39% more attention (time spent) than single media campaigns. Response rates increase by an average of 30% when direct mail is paired with digital targeting. You can achieve a 10% higher brand recall than single-media campaigns. And remember we mentioned that people who shop all channels also tend to be more valuable? Well, there is a 60% increase in customer value when at least two marketing channels are used together. Use print and digital media together – we’ll show you how.

“There is a 60% increase in customer value when at least two marketing channels are used together.”

Men Will Procrastinate

By December of last year, 11.3% of women hadn’t started their holiday shopping. For men, this was 13.5%. We don’t see this kind of shopping behavior changing – no offense guys. When it comes to holiday shopping, men are simply not tracking the sales as closely as their female counterparts do. 
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Men often spend more than women during the shopping season, partly because they’re not tracking the sales and partly because they tend to shop for high-dollar items such as electronics and expensive tools. 
They also shop Super Saturday, which is the last Saturday before Christmas, at a higher rate compared to women. Last year 19.6% of men surveyed shopped Super Saturday compared to 12.2% of women.
How to Win Over Male Shoppers – For retailers that sell electronics and other high-dollar tools and equipment, one of the best things to do is stay top of mind. Don’t assume men will go out of the way to look for deals or rummage through the newspaper to find ads. Mail them ads reminding them of that pressure washer they’ve been meaning to purchase. Make it personal and give them deals they can’t pass up –75% of rural shoppers choose a retailer based on available promotions or sales. This stat includes the dudes.

People Will Feel Less Pressured

In the past, Thanksgiving weekend was the main kickoff for holiday shopping. Today, many are beginning their shopping as soon as the Halloween décor comes down and continuing throughout November. Because the sales and discounts are usually continuous until Christmas, shoppers do not feel as much pressure to buy within a narrow timetable.

How to Win Over Less Pressured Shoppers – The best way to appeal to holiday shoppers who do not feel as much of a sense of urgency to shop certain days is to keep the deals coming throughout the shopping season. That means starting your promotions early. This strategy, in combination with marketing campaigns that target multi-channel shoppers using a combo of print and digital media is a great way to give these shoppers multiple ways to get great deals on their preferred holiday shopping items.

More Families in the Mspark Geography Will Shop Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday

First let’s recap a few numbers from last year.
Online spending on Thanksgiving 2018 hit $3.7 billion, representing 27.9% growth year-over-year, outpacing 2017’s 18.3% growth rate. It is the highest growth rate since 2014. One reason is that many merchants changed their strategy, for the first time charging the same prices on Thanksgiving Day as they did on Black Friday. In the rural geography, families with kids were 3.3% more likely than their urban counterparts to plan to shop Thanksgiving Day than their urban counterparts.
Online sales on Black Friday jumped 23.6% from a year ago, to $6.2 billion. More than $2 billion of these revenues came from smartphones with 33.5% of total sales attributed to mobile, up from 29% last year. In the rural geography, families with kids were 6.7%% more likely than their urban counterparts to plan to shop Black Friday than their urban counterparts.
Average order value was $146, an increase of 8.5% over 2017. Cyber Monday was the biggest sales day of the year with online revenues of $7.9 billion, an increase of 19.3% over 2017. Mobile transactions soared. Over half of visits — 54.3% — came from mobile devices, a year-over-year increase of 55.6%. And in the rural geography, families with kids were 6.3% more likely than their urban counterparts to plan to shop Cyber Monday than their urban counterparts.
How to Win Over Families with Kids – Rural households with kids are more motivated than their urban counterparts to shop Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Due to Mspark customer demand and consumer behavior changes, our package will arrive in the mailbox on the Tuesday before Black Friday for the first time in our history.

Why does this matter? It will allow advertisers to arrive in the mailbox just in time to help rural consumers make decisions on where to spend their money. And while we certainly encourage advertisers to mail end-of-month November, we do suggest getting in touch with us to formulate a solid mailing strategy where you can take advantage of all in-home dates we have throughout the holiday shopping season. There will be more than a few opportunities to reach shoppers before they wrap up their gift buying.


People Will Track Sales Via Mailbox 

39.1% of Black Friday shoppers saw an ad or coupon in their mailbox that led them to take action in the last 30 days. This number rises to 64.2% over the course of a year. Similarly, 38.4% of Cyber Monday shoppers saw an ad or coupon in their mailbox that led them to take action, 64.4% over a year. In another survey, 41.1% of shoppers said they would be tracking retailers’ holiday promotions through advertising circulars – more so than any other type of media, including email, TV, retailers’ websites, and social media.

How to Win Over Holiday Shoppers Tracking Sales – It’s obvious isn’t it? Retailers win them over by being in the mailbox. We recommend running ads from the start of November through mid-month December for maximum exposure. For even more holiday shopping and advertising trends and a retail success story, please download our eBook.

National Retail Federation 2018
Adobe Analytics 2018
Prosper Insights & Analytics 2018
Response Rate Report 2019, Data & Marketing Association
Connecting for Action – Canada Post Neuroscience Report
AdMall AudienceScan, 2019

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