We’re now officially into the busiest retail phase of the year – the crucial holiday shopping period which can be make or break for many retailers. Over the last couple of months, we’ve been providing resources to advertisers to help them maximise their Q4 activity. This has included strategy webinars and global research into the shopping habits of consumers in the run-up to the holiday season.

Although we’re already in November, it’s still not too late to optimise your marketing strategy for the biggest seasonal shopping dates. In this blog post, we’ve compiled a list of the key dates and trends that you should have on your radar in 2018.

Singles’ Day: 11th November

Established by Chinese University students in the early 90s as the anti-Valentine’s Day initiative, Singles’ Day has exploded to become the world’s largest retail event. Over the 24-hour period that was Saturday, November 11th 2017, consumers spent approximately $25.3 billion globally, a 39% increase on 2016 sales with sales within the first thirty minutes of the event exceeding $7 billion. At Rakuten Marketing, we’re seeing a huge growth of the event across our UK and APAC networks. Last year, we saw a 79% increase in orders, an 84% increase in traffic and a 32% increase in conversions for UK advertisers.

The recent success of Singles’ Day is aided by the growing popularity in the event among western retailers – last year more than 60,000 international brands took part with 225 countries recording sales. Our network data shows that there is an increasing appetite for products from UK advertisers among Chinese consumers across the luxury, apparel and accessories, department stores, beauty, electronics and travel verticals. However, our recent report highlighted that only 13% of UK marketers are focused on this shopping event and missing a huge opportunity to drive sales.

If you’d like to find out more about how to participate in Singles’ Day and our key strategies for success, then check out our blog post here.

Click Frenzy: 13th November

Typically falling on the third Tuesday in November, Click Frenzy has fast established itself as a key shopping day in Australia. It originally started in 2012 by the website Click Frenzy, that hosts four major 24-hour sale events throughout the year: Click Frenzy Junior, Mayhem, Travel Frenzy and Click Frenzy. Taking place in November, the latter is its flagship event and has evolved to a national shopping day adopted by a majority of retailers and publishers in the region.

Across our APAC network, apparel & accessories is the top performing vertical during Click Frenzy 2017 closely followed by luxury and interestingly, software. Given the event’s focus on discounting, we see many shoppers purchasing via cashback sites rather than the Click Frenzy site to make further savings. It’s no surprise to see that cashback and loyalty publishers drove the most sales last year (+4% YoY) followed by shopping publishers.

Cyber Weekend: 23rd November – 26th November

We don’t need to give much introduction to Cyber Weekend. Over the last couple of years, the shopping event has seen exponential growth here in the UK. In 2017, £1.4bn was spent online on Black Friday, which was an 11.7% increase on the previous year according to IMRG.

The shopping extravaganza originated in the US and started in the 1940s to kick-start the post-Thanksgiving sales period. Initially, some retailers were hesitant to take part and reduce margins during the most profitable time of year. However, as the event has gained traction, it has become more difficult for brands to ignore in fear of missing their piece of the pie.

Black Friday has had a huge impact on consumers’ shopping habits and we’ve seen spending shifting from the traditional December peak to earlier in November. It is becoming increasingly common for brands to straddle their offers over an entire ‘Cyber Week’ to avoid missing out on sales to competitors. More than 80% of countries on our network saw the highest amount of traffic the week prior to Black Friday, with gross sales peaking on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Therefore, brands should ensure they are building brand awareness for their products and offers as early as possible to increase the likelihood of conversion on Cyber Weekend.

Data from our attribution and insights platform, Cadence, has shown that more than 80% of all shoppers that start and convert within the affiliate channel, do so within the same day over Cyber Week. This decreases slightly to 75% for shoppers that start and convert within the display channel. This data highlights how the affiliate and display channels are an effective way to capture shoppers during this time.

Double12: 12th December

Held annually on the 12th December, Double12 day is a fast-growing ‘sequel’ to Singles’ Day in China. Whereas the Alibaba retail platform is the main driving force behind the 11.11 event and focuses on enabling larger brands, Alipay (China’s leading mobile payment solution) is the driving force behind 12.12 and targets smaller etailers and offline shops. It’s quickly gaining momentum, with more than 300,000 merchants participating in last year’s event, and we’re expecting that the purchasing power of Chinese consumers will continue to drive further growth this year. Although it’s predominately an offline event, we’re keeping a close eye on how this impacts online sales across our network.

Boxing Day: 26th December

Boxing Day is traditionally a peak sales-period for brands in the UK. However, there has been less of a spike in recent years due to a combination of the November discounting period and the fact that many retailers are now starting sales a week before Christmas.

Last year, shop visits on Boxing Day dropped by 4.5% compared to 2016, according to research group Springboard. Good news for online retailers, as there has however been a strong rise in online shopping for the full 24-hour Boxing Day period. Our recent research into the gift shopping habits of consumers found that Boxing Day sales are still important for UK shoppers, with 21% of UK shoppers saying it’s still a focus for their gift shopping.

Want to learn more? You can read more of our holiday shopping resources via the links below: