Retailers’ Winning Holiday Formula: Data Privacy and Personalized Offers That Last All Year
While it’s arguably a truism that retailers need to start planning holiday strategies earlier each year, consumers are moving faster than ever to complete their shopping lists this holiday season. They’re cashing in on early sales and anticipating potential supply chain disruptions causing shipping delays and inventory shortages. For retailers, the season offers major potential, with early industry forecasts estimating that holiday retail sales will reach $1.3 trillion.
Based on a recent Braze survey of 1,000 US consumers aged 18+, 65% of respondents said they will start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving. A closer look shows that 22% have already started shopping, while 43% plan to shop in October and early November. Further underscoring the shift to earlier shopping this year, more than seven in 10 consumers (71%) also said they plan to shop less on holiday promotional events than they have in the past (e.g., Black Friday and Cyber Monday), because retailers are offering more year-round savings and early sales.
Additional findings from our research point to hybrid holiday shopping preferences this season. For example, 41% of consumers said they plan to split their shopping between in-store and online. As retailers face increasing supply chain and timely delivery challenges, businesses can motivate consumers to shop in-store by offering incentives, including premium in-store only discounts (62%), free gifts with purchase (51%), and buy online, pick up in store services (36%).
First-Party Data Is the Greatest Gift this Season
As marketers balance targeting and personalization challenges amid the shift toward a cookieless world, retailers must prioritize effective communication through first-party data. Despite ongoing privacy initiatives, the survey found that consumers say they are still comfortable sharing data directly with retailers if it allows them to receive personalized deals or offers. In other words, there must be a value exchange, something the customer receives as a reward for sharing this information.
Consumers say they are willing to share details including email addresses (72%), personal interests (37%), home address or zip code (35%), phone numbers (35%) and date of birth (33%). With this in mind, retailers should prioritize strengthening their first-party shopper databases this holiday season to serve up more personalized offers that will improve customer engagement.
Make a List, Check it Twice for Ongoing Engagement
While the Q4 bump in holiday shopping revenue is always important for retailers, it’s also critical for brands to prioritize long-term retention. Our findings indicate that consumers plan to explore new brands this holiday season. Notably, 41% plan to split their shopping between new brands and those they already purchase from throughout the year.
Consumer exploration is expected to be driven by desire for savings, as 64% of survey respondents report they can be encouraged to try a new brand of retailer if offered a deal or discount. When interacting with new shoppers, retailers should lean into these desires with motivations for ongoing engagements. For example, consumers say they’d be willing to sign up for a loyalty program (49%), subscribe to emails (44%), and sign up for texts (28%) in order to receive personalized offers and savings from retailers during the holidays.
While holiday shopping has already kicked off, the months ahead will still be critical for retailers. Braze customer data shows purchases per buyer and new sessions per active user are highest in November compared to earlier months (September and October). Analysis also shows this time period is most impactful for retention. For example, Braze data shows customers acquired in November 2020 were 16.57% more likely to re-engage in six months (May 2021) than customers acquired in October 2020.
As retailers engage with both new and existing customers this holiday season, it’s important to continue and build upon existing strategy for the new year. To retain customers and spur loyalty among them, brands should look to maintain a timely, personalized, and value-driven customer engagement strategy all year round.