2017 Holiday Shopping: What to Expect

Vertical view of woman sitting, surrounded by wrapped crhistmas presents, coffee in left hand, CC in right and laptop in lap

There is a lot of back and forth over whether holiday shopping is decreasing or increasing, particularly when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping participation— which had been increasing each year for the last decade. Just from 2015 to 2016 shopping between Thanksgiving and Black Friday increased by 17.7% and Cyber Monday shopping increased by 10.2%. However, while Black Friday is still beating out Cyber Monday in terms of sales, Cyber Monday, and online shopping in general, have been increasing at a greater rate.

This year, brands and retailers are having even more difficulty anticipating what the holiday shopping trends will be. After last year being an election year and this year’s improvement in the economy, many are hopeful that holiday shopping will take on another record year.

It’s Less About the Shopping, More About the Experience

In years past, Black Friday provided a retailer’s dream as it created a sense of urgency and need among consumers that no other shopping day could provide. Today, it’s far less about the shopping and more about the experience. For some families, Black Friday shopping is a holiday tradition and while some still get up at the crack of dawn for those deals, others are more inclined to make it a day event where shopping and dining are combined. However, consumers are still looking for a deal and many will purchase a product no matter what— as a reward for the effort of going out in the first place. Consumers will also expect Black Friday and other holiday deals to extend past 24 hours. So while Black Friday participation may appear to be declining in some ways, it’s really just the day itself that is being spread out over a greater period of time.

But let’s not forget about the brands that are closing their doors on Thanksgiving and Black Friday to forego the experience entirely. In 2015, REI, a major outdoor retailer store, literally campaigned against Black Friday by “opting outside” and encouraging their employees and consumers to do the same. This year, we can expect more brands to close their doors during the holidays. Many companies can’t afford to do this based on the sales they rely on during Black Friday, however, REI saw no impact on their bottom-line and continued to do just as well in their holiday sales while immensely improving their brand image.

The Online Experience Is Notably Important

Black Friday’s focus is most certainly positioned towards brick and mortar stores, and as a result, retailers created a whole other day focused on online shopping: Cyber Monday. This day was not for want by consumers though. Many shoppers are looking for a more convenient and comfortable way to conduct their holiday shopping. This year, consumers are likely to look for even more benefits from Cyber Monday, like

  • Deals on a greater variety of products
  • Greater ease of search
  • More flexibility and options for delivery

Take Amazon Prime, for example, one of the leaders in Cyber Monday, Amazon made it worthwhile to many consumers to purchase their Prime membership just to have shipping costs waived and a quick delivery. This year, other leaders in the retail and the online space, like WalMart, Target, and eBay, will make their play with similar competitive offerings.

Incorporating Holiday Shopper Insights

Holiday shopping is a critical time for many brands. Determining how to position, target, and promote your brand during this time is central to making it a success. Understanding the shopper experience, specifically when it comes to the holidays, should be an important facet of any brand’s market research strategy, especially CPG ones.

Segmenting and targeting shoppers during the holiday season should be approached very differently than the rest of the year. For example, when it comes to holiday shopping, we know women shop earlier and more often, while men shop later and less frequently. Knowing details like this about your consumers can help enhance the experience both online and in-store, and drive not only holiday sales but brand engagements when it may make the most impact.

To learn more about what to expect for this year’s holiday shopping, we ran a quick quantitative study of 2017 holiday shoppers. Download the full infographic below to learn how much consumers plan to spend, when, on what, and for who.

Download Infographic