Holiday Shoppers are Ready to Spend

According to a survey by consulting firm Deloitte, Twenty percent of holiday shoppers plan to buy jewelry this year, up from eighteen percent last year, and the highest number since 2007. Additionally, twenty-five percent of people have jewelry on their wish lists this year, the most since 2006. These figures may signal that the economic recovery has finally reached middle-class households, who since 2008 have typically opted for necessities and more emotional gift choices, and who may now finally have a little wiggle room in their budgets.

While shoppers will retain a generally frugal approach when it comes to the majority of their day-to-day purchases, a practice that’s been learned by necessity in the recession and since retained by choice, shoppers are now practicing “selective frugality,” a behavior that suggests they are willing to spring for indulgent items on some occasions while still stretching their dollar in others. 

Starbucks: Premium Coffee & iBeacons

Starbucks has announced a plan to begin using Apple’s iBeacons in its premium coffee stores next year to blend the retailer’s focus on mobile with its upscale lines of java. The iBeacons will be coming to the premium Roastery and Tasting Rooms to give customers access to information about their coffee via Bluetooth technology on their smartphones. The move further advances Starbucks’ mobile strategy at a time of intense competition. Starbucks plans to expand its Reserve coffee line to 1,500 locations globally, as well as open at least 100 stores designed to highlight the rare coffees starting in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Starbucks must tread carefully in the technology space to avoid alienating its customers or make them feel like the marketing is intrusive. “Beacons can be a boon for brands, but they can also work negatively if they don’t create a positive experience for the consumer,” said Vanessa Horwell, principal and chief strategy officer with ThinkInk in an interview with Mobile Commerce Daily. Starbucks already has a tech-saavy customer base, many of who are already using mobile marketing through the company’s app. They should be comfortable with the new tech and welcome it.

Heineken’s Marketing is on a Roll

Heineken was recently announced as the winner of 2015’s creative marketer of the year award. Mobile has been the key to the brand’s success in its recent campaigns. They have gained most of their learnings from their mobile experience. Heineken’s holiday campaign “Spark My Party” asked fans to tweet the hashtag #SparkMyParty to its Twitter handle this past weekend to win free prizes. The brand was looking for a way to make the holiday season more fun and unexpected. In the #SparkMyParty campaign’s first 24 hours, the hashtag was tweeted roughly 300 times. 

Heineken wanted to stay relevant during a time when people are reconnecting with family and friends. Knowing that the holiday season is an important time for people, they still managed to stay top of mind. They wanted to embrace the holiday season and make it even more fun and surprising for people during their celebrations. Heineken knows that staying relevant is important for brands, which is why they chose to think in real-time and embrace the holiday season. 

Black Friday, Cyber Monday & Now Green Monday?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may have been just the beginning of shopping events for the holiday seasons to come. Just this past season, the slightly late cousin of Black Friday saw desktop shopping grow by 17% from 2013. With this performance, Cyber Monday is inspiring additional shopping events in the early weeks of December. We now have Green Monday, the second Monday of every December. Research has shown that Mondays in December are some of the strongest days for online shopping of the year. So 7 out of 10 retailers will now be tapping into a second Monday to bring promotions to their shoppers.

It may seem as though retailers are overdoing it with shopping events during the Holidays. However, shoppers continue to be engaged and crave more from online retail during this season. Cyber Monday saw an increase in sales this year, and their are no signs that shoppers have exhausted their desire to continue to visit e-commerce. This is a perfect example of retailers finding new, fertile occasions to reach out to their audiences. When working with your clients, they may also have new opportunities to deliver their messaging to their target.

Shopping & Working: The Ultimate In Multi-tasking

Being a self-proclaimed shop-aholic and working on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago is difficult for me. With world class shopping right at our doorstep, it requires great self-restraint to not wander towards my shopping paradise everyday at lunch or detour when I should be heading towards the train station after work. I simply can’t be in two places at once…or can I?

For those of you in Brooklyn, LA, or London, you can pop on into a new Levi’s #Commuter location and not only shop for threads designed by and for bicycling enthusiasts, but also get custom tailoring, drop off your bike to be repaired, customized and cleaned, get some work done in their workspace that offers free Wi-Fi, and enjoy some coffee all at once. Now if that isn’t taking care of business, I don’t know what is!

For those not really into biking, various Urban Outfitters locations have started adding iPhone charging/work tables in their stores. Shoppers may choose to have a seat and check email or even get a little work done leveraging the free in-store Wi-Fi.

And, Urban Decay cosmetics opened it’s first stand-alone store in Newport Beach, California that includes not only interactive makeup stations and a huge digital video wall where shoppers can interact with the brand, but it also a lounge with a coffee bar for those wishing to check email or do some work after trying out some new makeup looks. Best of all, they have a “Dude Station” with iPhone chargers where the men who get dragged along can hang out.

When executed well, this integration of shopping and working can be a win-win for both the shopper and the retailer. Messaging can be pushed to those who are connected to the store’s Wi-Fi with special offers, allowing them to get some work done while encouraging them to purchase more than they might have, otherwise. I think we can expect to see more and more retailers picking up on this over the year-to-come. And, I, personally, am looking forward to being super-productive!

BlackFriday Recap: More Gray than Black

The “official” kickoff of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday, continues to evolve as retailers are starting promotions several weeks before Thanksgiving. While, NRF and IBM reported that Black Friday weekend spending decreased by $6.5 billion, NRF predicts a 4.1% increase in spending for the overall holiday shopping season.

Here are the Top 5 Black Friday/Cyber Monday statistics:

  • Consumers spent less on average, down 6.5% from last year, during the Black Friday weekend.
  • Shopping on Thanksgiving, Grey Thursday, continues to grow. IBM reported an increase of 14.3% this year from 2013.
  • Cyber Monday sales are up significantly over last year. Reports range from 8.5% to a 16% increase in sales from last year.
  • Mobile shopping is growing rapidly. Smartphones drove almost 35% of all Black Friday traffic and tablets contributed to almost 15%.
  • There was a reported 5.2% drop in people shopping in-store and online.

Key Factors: Early Wal-Mart Deals and Low Gas Prices

According to reports, Wal-Mart discounted over 20,000 items during the weeks leading up to Black Friday and increased the items available online from 1 million to 7 million. The increase of items online and new shipping options resulted in record online sales for the retailer.

Gas prices continue to drop and many are predicting that shoppers will have additional money in their pocket to spend on holiday gifts this year. Based on the numbers, they didn’t spend during the Black Friday weekend. We will be watching to see if shoppers spend that extra cash during the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Last Word

There were several larger issues that surfaced during Black Friday weekend that hit the news this year. There were protesters fighting for an increase in the minimum wage and retailers had to decide whether they should open on Thanksgiving. How do you think these issues impacted the Black Friday weekend?

BlackFriday: Not Just for the U.S.

BlackFriday is not just for Thanksgiving anymore. It has jumped the Atlantic and arrived in London. It seems that the U.S. has found the secret to kicking off the Holiday buying season and the rest of the globe wants in on the buying frenzy.

While in London last week I noticed sales still lingering. From electronics to health and beauty and grocery, they were all attracting customers and moving product at rock bottom prices. Argos Catalog Stores were offering 4 days of black Friday offers while Boots Pharmacy kicked off it’s holiday buying season with free gift offers. Local grocers, Like Asda, used black Friday as a chance to encourage grocery stock up for seasonal favorites like Pudding cakes and traditional foods.

It’s not Thanksgiving but there is a lot to be thankful for in the UK. Retailers have seen the light around offering some loss leaders to drive traffic and sales around the rest of their offerings. Let the sales season begin.