As the summer days start to end and the nice, cool weather approaches, many consumers begin to think about the holidays. Between scheduling the possible holiday vacation, planning different holiday parties, and preparing homes for the new season, consumers will be on the look-out for a multitude of items to fit their holiday needs beginning in September. Through insights and data of our own, and other third-party research and surveys, we’ve outlined four basic holiday shopper profiles. In no way does every consumer fit into a specific profile (consumers can never be THAT predictable) and many consumers may fit into multiple categories. However, by planning for all the following holiday shopper profiles, brands can be sure to properly prepare for the array of consumers shopping for the holidays.

The Pumpkin Spice-Consuming, Fall-Loving Shopper

(September – October)

For this consumer, all things fall is what drives their “holiday shopping fever.” With the back-to-school season coming to a close, the crisper mornings (and don’t forget about the arrival of the iconic pumpkin-spice lattes!), many consumers are beginning to shop for the holidays, or are at least thinking about it. According to RetailMeNot, 25% of consumers started their holiday shopping before October last year. With a quarter of consumers shopping this early, marketers really should be prioritizing their preparations for holiday marketing strategies right now as we are already in September. Marketers should engage early holiday shoppers by utilizing marketing techniques that complement the fact these consumers are eager to be ahead of the game. Offer deals, such as percentage off, buy one, get one (BOGO), etc., designated for a certain time period that’s later in the year. Send a friendly email or mobile app notification as the time comes to remind consumers about the special deal they earned for being an early shopper with your brand. This is also a great time to use customer acquisition strategies to grow your consumer base since these shoppers will continuously shop throughout the rest of the year, giving an opportunity to create customers who are loyal, repeat-purchasers.

These early fall shoppers are definitely looking to buy gifts for the winter holidays – in fact, our holiday report last year indicated that by the time Halloween rolls around, 83% have actively already started their holiday shopping! However, since this profile of consumers begin their shopping in the months of September to the end of October, many of these shoppers may also still be shopping for back-to-school items and also for Halloween. So, don’t forget to tailor your advertising accordingly to the late back-to-school and the exclusively spooky shoppers as well. Eventually, these consumers will be shopping for the winter holidays, and by applying retargeting strategies, consumers can be reminded of the great shopping experience they had with your brand. And now that the time has come, ‘tis the season for your brand to give warm welcome backs and great deals to aid consumers in finding the perfect gift.

The Savvy-Saving Consumer

(Peak Sales Days)

This consumer, with all their pride and joy in saving money, is the shopper who typically waits for those big sales days – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Small Business Saturday, Free Shipping Day, etc. In this year’s holiday study, we found that 54% of US consumers focus on Black Friday for their gift purchases and 33% rely on Cyber Monday. This isn’t to say that many of these consumers haven’t begun shopping and won’t continue to shop later, but it’s tough to argue with the numbers showing that clearly, the US holiday season gains its biggest sales on these two days. Again, playing to these consumers strengths of being bargain shoppers will drive consumers to shop your brand.

There could be multiple reasons a consumer is looking for a good sale. Some may have multiple people to shop for, our holiday data discovered 35% of US consumers shop for 3-5 people and 27% shop for 6-10, but don’t want to spend a ton of money. Some may look for the best deals because it makes them feel smart. Then some consumers may actually not even be shopping for the holidays and just need a new big-ticket item (such as a new TV) and know they can get a great deal on one of the aforementioned big sales days. Whatever the reason, these types of shoppers are expecting to save money and there are multiple ways marketers can deliver on this expectation. Everyone will be offering deals on their products, so taking it to the next level will position your brand to stand out amongst the others. Offer extra points or rebates on an already marked down item, or give away a free product for a certain dollar amount spent – this way, you’re consumer is getting more “bang for their buck,” you’re rewarding them for their smart shopping, and you incentivize them to either spend more with you or come back to shop again with the rewards/cash-back they received from you.

Wintertime Winners

(November – December)

For many consumers, even thinking about holiday shopping doesn’t begin until it’s about time for the typical holidays to start. Our gift shopper holiday report found that 22% of US consumers don’t jump into their full-fledged holiday shopping until after Halloween. These consumers are probably those who aren’t in a rush to find anything specific since they still have plenty of time to research, purchase and have things shipped to them before it’s too late to get items in time for the big holidays. Also, all consumers love, and even expect, to find decent deals and savings throughout this time and will probably even still shop on the big savings days. In light of this, it’s important to have an all-encompassing marketing strategy that what will increase, engage and convert consumers. Most will likely still be making purchases on the big sales days and continue to purchase up until the last weeks of December, so be sure to utilize multiple ways to get in touch with shoppers to ensure they purchase with your brand at some point in their shopping journey. By increasing mobile, social and video advertising, you’ll be able to reach a multitude of consumers during this time in different ways that give your brand an opportunity to cater to a large quantity of multi-faceted holiday shoppers.

Since this is also a large shopping window, it’s important to strengthen your online to offline presence since many consumers will research online but still purchase in-store. In fact, 76% of consumers preferred to shop in physical stores during the holiday season in 2017. A lot of consumers are shopping in store because they either need the item immediately (which we visit later in this post) but many consumers shop in store because they like to see an item in person, they can use more coupons/offers in-store than online, and for a pleasant shopping experience/browsing, according to eMarketer. This is a further indication of the necessity of having a marketing strategy that incorporates efforts from all marketing channels. Through affiliate marketing efforts, you’ll gain in-store shopping by offering coupons and deals. The fact that consumers are shopping in-store to gain a pleasant shopping experience should encourage brands to create seamless experiences from your online stores to offline that also give a pleasant holiday feel. Even consider promoting products that are specifically in-store through your online advertising efforts to uphold a sense of connection between the brand, whether it be online or offline.

Pro-Procrastinators

(The last two/three weeks of December)

No matter what the holiday, there are always those last minute shoppers who scramble to find the perfect gifts, and there are some easy ways brands can help them. Our same Rakuten Marketing holiday data found that 19% of US consumers considered themselves as last-minute shoppers. When it comes to these consumers, they’ll likely be making impulsive decisions and a great strategy to capitalize on shopper’s impulse buying is by offering limited-time sales or promotions. These kinds of strategies will motivate these pro-procrastinators into making a purchase. Another way to encourage these shoppers to purchase from your brand is by offering different types of shipping options; whether it be free shipping, cheaper expedited shipping, etc. this will help ease the stress of these consumers who are concerned about getting their gifts on time. These consumers will also always benefit from a well-rounded marketing strategy. Extra savings, percentage off and last-minute gift guides to aid in gift decisions are great affiliate marketing efforts to engage these shoppers. Mobile and social touchpoints driven by display marketing efforts will help convert these kinds of consumers because it’s advertising that’s already easily integrated into their busy, on-the-go lifestyle. Although these consumers don’t need to be catered to anytime soon, it’s still good to plan ahead on how to best prepare for them, and we have more tips on how best to engage these pro-procrastinator shoppers.

Again, not all consumers fit into one shopper profile and may fit in two or even span across all four. Our 2017 holiday data found that consumers are actually always open to finding that perfect gift, and 54% of surveyed consumers consider themselves all-year browsers when it comes to holiday gifts. In general, beginning your holiday marketing efforts now will only increase your consumer base of holiday shoppers. Then by creating a well-rounded, all-encompassing marketing strategy that includes multiple different campaigns from different channels will continuously engage and re-engage these consumers throughout the different holidays for the rest of the year. In general, consumers look for outside help while shopping for the holidays. Again, our holiday data revealed 21% of US consumers say they need all the help they can get and are open to brand/advertising suggestions for their gift purchases. However, remember to not overburden consumers with too much advertising and utilize prospecting, retargeting, etc. techniques in ways that prioritize a consumer’s needs and preferences for the holiday season.