Every fall, it seems we can count on two things from people—some express their surprise at how dark it gets before dinnertime, and others remark how the holiday season seems to begin earlier and earlier every year.
But for retailers aiming to maximize sales before the year ends, there’s a new time of year to plan campaigns around—the post-holiday shopping season known as Q5.
Due to a perfect storm created in part by shopping habits continuing to evolve during the pandemic, and logistical issues unique to the 2021 holidays, this shopping season—the period after Hanukkah (early December) through the first two weeks of January—is gaining momentum as a new marketing moment.
While historically all eyes have been on Thanksgiving through Cyber Week as the key period to drive online sales, maximizing returns in 2021 requires more focus on the Q5 period, which has always been a significant season for installing apps, setting New Year’s resolutions and redeeming gift cards.
For many retailers, it’s predicted that supply chain challenges will require merchants to continue selling holiday inventory after shipping deadlines have passed. Luckily for such retailers, it appears more than likely that surplus inventory will be met with extended consumer demand. Although consumers are sure to take advantage of brand offers and efforts to get gifts to their friends and families faster, 55% of U.S. shoppers still plan to purchase gifts online—even if they won’t be delivered by Christmas.¹
Traditionally, this is the point where brands pull back on spending and reduce budgets. But now, it’s a marketer’s opportunity to tap into a new consumer mindset.
E-commerce has a new holiday moment
The beginning of this unique shopping season coincides with the final shipping dates before Christmas. Despite concerns about logistics, many retailers expect late shoppers to drive a substantial portion of revenue. In 2020, the average shopper left 53% of their shopping until December. This trend will continue, as TechRadar reported, “last-minute seasonal shoppers are extremely likely to purchase at least one product, and they're usually more open to present suggestions as they take the mental strain off of their already busy to-do list.”
Insider has confirmed that top companies such as P&G have reflected on the supply chain crisis. Using this information has allowed brands to get more bang for their advertising buck by reaching more customers for less money during this period. Other CPG giants, including Coca-Cola, Mondelez and Colgate-Palmolive, have also increased advertising in reaction to the latest industry trends, including justifying price increases for new products; retooling marketing strategies to get more return on their ad spend investments through 2022, which are expected to reach near the levels achieved in 2019; and continuing to brand build despite supply chain issues in order to stay competitive.
We also know consumers will be shopping more and more via online and mobile devices. This year, 37% of Snapchatters plan to buy more online.² With the digital shelf more abundant and accessible than ever, Snapchatters have every reason to shop using the devices right at their fingertips—and brands have every reason to build their marketing strategies around this intent.
The power of gift cards
A third of shoppers are already banking on giving more gift cards this year, according to Oracle’s consumer survey. In 2020, retailers generated an average of $2.6 million in digital gift card sales.
Gift cards are a great way to facilitate brand discovery. In the same survey mentioned above, 34% of recipients noted that receiving a gift card prompted them to visit stores they normally wouldn’t have considered. This creates a short-term opportunity for purchases as well as a long-term opportunity to develop relationships with new customers. Plus, gift cards encourage increased spending and inspire action. In fact, 74% of consumers spend $54 on top of the original value of the gift card,³ and 69% of those who receive gift cards over the holidays use them within weeks of receipt.⁴
In a more global sense, gift cards also offer both gift givers and receivers maximum flexibility given the myriad uncertainties of this particular holiday season, whether it's the unavailability of the exact product desired or higher prices related to limited supply.
New year, new opportunity
After December 25, consumers will be packing up the holiday decorations and gearing up for a successful new year ahead. In 2021, “resolutions” was the fourth-highest trending term on major social media platforms for the week prior to January 4.⁵ Pretty unsurprising, as the phrase “new year, new you'' permeates all of our thoughts. While many resolutions are centered around fitness and health goals, retail opportunities aren’t limited to those categories. We know that Snapchat users are willing to spend more than non-Snapchat users when it comes to self-improvement: Snapchatters are willing to spend 52% more on new phones, 22% more on new shoes and 20% more on new outfits,⁶ to name a few examples.
Of course, marketers can also benefit from the self-improvement mentality during the post-holiday period. Promoting products and services related to popular categories such as wellness, learning, and financial planning are a tremendous opportunity for sales. Using creative messaging that ties in to these themes has shown to improve conversion rates among online shoppers, especially on mobile commerce platforms like Snapchat.
Post-holiday action plan
The post-holiday shopping season is filled with opportunities that the savviest marketers can leverage to their advantage. To meet this new holiday moment, brands must first acknowledge that in the digital realm, "holiday" shopping extends into Q5 for a variety of reasons. In this case, more is more: Extended holidays equals extended marketing campaign planning.
Second, what's old is new again: That old standby for the person who's impossible to shop for—the gift card—is also the perfect marketer's tool for brand discovery and further selling opportunities.
Finally, marketers should think beyond health and wellness when considering the sense of renewal that accompanies the new year: Many of the same gifts people love to receive during the holidays have just as much appeal as products that embody the reinvention that goes along with a truly happy new year.