By Daniel Newman, Co-CEO V3 Broadsuite and president of Broadsuite Media Group, Broadsuite
For many, the holiday season means extra time spent with family and friends, complete with shared meals and exchanged gifts. It’s no secret that shopping for those gifts has become a process, especially as consumers are presented with more options, and brands are taking craftier steps to snag some of that business up for grabs. Black Friday and Cyber Monday officially kick off the holiday shopping season, with retailers promoting everything from doorbuster (limited time, limited quantity) deals to free shipping on purchases.
Adobe predicts American consumers will spend over $83 billion overall this holiday season (from November to December), an 11 percent increase from 2014’s numbers. By breaking down these projections, we can learn a lot about how consumer behavior affects—and can actually be shaped by—strategic advertising and targeted moves by retailers (including those made in social). From an IT point of view, think of all the big data that comes with those consumer purchases. What can we learn about consumer trends for the coming year? Where are the best deals, anyway—Cyber Monday or Black Friday? Let’s break it all down.
The social side
Of course social buzz—which was down a bit last week but has picked up momentum as Black Friday draws near—is a reflection of consumer interest. What about social as a tool for retailers to inform consumer interest, though?Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Social Studio reports that overall social conversations about Black Friday are up 20 percent from last year, with Twitter leading the charge from a platform usage perspective. Salesforce mentioned some smart marketing strategies that embrace the social side of retail, including having sharper and more creative messaging (to “cut through the noise”) and participating in conversations that have an impact on consumers.
For example, retailer Best Buy has seen its social media mentions skyrocket in the Black Friday/Cyber Monday online chatter. At the time of this posting,Salesforce reports it has triple the volume of any other retailer and has doubled their mentions from last year just in the last week. How? They launched a Pre-Black Friday sale early on in the month to generate conversation, proving how important it is to be ahead of the game when it comes to the timing of campaigns.
Online vs. in-store: A tale as old as time…
…OK, as old as e-commerce—and for those in retail, that’s pretty much the same thing as time. It’s a classic matchup: Which selling strategy wins, the online or in-store focus? Maybe a little of both? It can be hard to determine a true retail victor when comparing Black Friday to Cyber Monday, especially when the two start blending. People shop online on Black Friday, so clicks are no longer reserved for Cyber Monday alone. Plus, Thanksgiving Day online shopping is projected to jump to $1.35 billion, an increase of 27 percentcompared to last year—so consumers aren’t waiting until Friday to start scoring deals.
When we talk about online purchasing, keep one word at the front of your mind: Mobile. Mobile is a game-changer because it brings goods and services to consumers anytime, anywhere—and, especially during these deal-heavy days, it does so on the cheap. Consumers will shop sitting at the dinner table. They will shop online at multiple retailers while standing inside another brick and mortar store. They will shop while traveling. In fact, HookLogic found that traffic to e-commerce pages from mobile is already higher this year compared to that from desktops, albeit just slightly, so far. The 50.2 percentfigure of mobile shoppers is expected to rise as the holiday season bears down. (And all that shopping on Thanksgiving Day? Fifty-one percent of it is projected to be from a mobile device.)
Black Friday. Adobe projects Black Friday sales for 2015 to reach $2.7 billion, an increase of 15 percent year over year. Looking ahead to next year, they predict Black Friday will surpass Cyber Monday in terms of overall profitability.
Cyber Monday. According to Adobe, Cyber Monday will win out in terms of the most online sales this year. The projection is $3 billion, a 12 percent increase year over year.
Bounceback Tuesday. This is not a typo—it exists! The Tuesday that follows Cyber Monday is another hot spot for retailers. Data and marketing firm Criteo gave it its name after releasing a report that showed last year’s sales tallies to be 159 percent higher on this day than on an average shopping day. Sales in some product families (like sporting goods) were actually higher.
Consumers get gifts, retailers get data
In the end, consumers will continue to buy their ties, televisions, and toys as they cross loved ones off their lists. In the process, retailers will continue to get a ton of data from those purchases, valuable information they can use to influence their marketing efforts for the coming year. It’s a win-win for all involved—except, maybe, for the guy who gets the tie.
How do you interpret all the data surrounding the holiday shopping season? Where do you see the most potential for retailers this year—in store or online? What about next year? In your opinion, how important is social reallywhen it comes to consumer behavior? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tweet me at @danielnewmanuv and copy @DellPowerMore
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This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.