Headspace: Connecting with the holiday shopper
by Tenielle Maris. As the end of the year nears, and the contagious anticipation of the holidays along with it, consumers have already begun strategising the smartest way to go about their spending over the festive season.
It’s no surprise that price is one of the most important factors when it comes to Christmas shopping; one only needs to look at the explosion of deep-discounting across retailers over the holidays. However, one cannot overlook the role of emotions in driving shopping behavior — where sentimentality and nostalgia connect with shoppers arguably more so than at other points throughout the year.
Consumer research has shown that nostalgic feelings increase willingness to shop, and that happier people are more likely to spend more money. It is, therefore, no surprise that retailers and brands have been leveraging this insight for the longest of times to get shoppers to buy more from them over the holidays: from vanilla and cinnamon scented aromas and Christmas carols to mesmerising displays of lights, nostalgic and multisensory shopping experiences (from the most rudimentary to the downright theatrical) play a fundamental role in enhancing the mood and behaviour of the shopper.
“When our brains anticipate a reward, we feel greater pleasure than receiving the reward itself. Because of this, we are subconsciously drawn to whatever is building those positive emotions. Make your brand that source of anticipation.” —Forbes, 2016
Sharing the holiday cheer
Holiday time is not just about spending money on gifts for family and friends: according to a 2017 Deloitte study, more than half of respondents said they choose to buy gifts that are indulgences that people may not buy for themselves, and that they perceive Christmas as an opportunity to self-indulge while shopping for others.
In the new-age experience economy, it’s no surprise that experiences are shaping shopping decisions: gift-givers are more frequently sacrificing traditional gifts for entertainment and experiences for others, and they are, simultaneously, spending an increasing amount of their holiday budgets on experiences for themselves.
The omnichannel era
Omnichannel shopping has become the new normal for shoppers wanting to be given the choice of how and when to shop: whether shoppers are first conducting research online before going in store to buy, or first using the in-store environment as a showroom before going online to make purchases, shoppers expect an effortless transition from one shopping environment to the next.
While traditional retailers are focusing efforts on growing their online platforms, ecommerce retailers — such as the beauty-box subscription service Birchbox — have been creating popup stores to provide shoppers with a three-dimensional brand experience, and as an alternative to big bricks and mortar retailers over the holidays.
The rise of new holiday touchpoints
The evolution of holiday-shopping behaviour has paved the way for the development of new shopping tools, and has proliferated new-age shopping journeys over Christmas. Wishlisting tools are being used more frequently by millennials to let family and friends know what they would like for Christmas (to ultimately avoid disappointment under the Christmas tree). In the same vein, shoppers are turning to platforms such as You Tube and Instagram to inform their wishlists and shopping decisions via trusted influencers and vloggers.
Getting it right
As omnichannel shopping plays an ever-important role over the holidays, retailers and brands need to explore ways in which to permeate the feelgood mindset throughout the shopper journey — across all touch points — and not only when standing in-store.
This Christmas, retailers and brands need to leverage what holiday shoppers really want in order to target them with tailored offerings and shareable content that complements their shopping behaviour. By marketing to a specific moment in the shopping journey in a way that incorporates powerful emotional cues and satiates the experience-hungry holiday shopper, your brand stands a better chance at actually making it into the Christmas stocking this year.
- Harvard Business Review: Science Shows Why Marketers Are Right to Use Nostalgia
- Release: Deloitte Study — Happy Holidays on the Way, Without the Ribbons and Bows
- Forbes: How Holiday Marketing Uses Christmas Feels To Get You Buying
- Marketing Week: Four sales trends to watch this Christmas (sponsored content)
- Foresight Factory: Local Perspectives — Christmas Budget and Gifts
- Marketing Week: Why omnichannel retailers won at Christmas
Tenielle Maris is strategic director at TTL agency, 34°, in Johannesburg. Beginning her career in branding and communications, she has spent the last decade in the marketing industry where she has worked upon big brands spanning the African continent. Having found her passion in understanding what drives human beings to connect with particular brands, her time is spent getting up close and personal with the people whom brands are trying to connect with. Tenielle contributes the monthly “Headspace” column, which unpacks anything and everything that helps marketers and advertisers understand why people connect with brands, to MarkLives.com.