For retail marketers, what does it take to be truly ready for the holiday shopping season? You need to be prepared to engage and entice shoppers and edge out the competition in Q4. For many businesses, this is a make-or-break time of year. 

To succeed, you need data about your customers, such as insights about who they are, where they like to shop, what they’re likely to buy, and much more. But data alone isn’t enough: you need the right tools to be able to connect with them on the right channels with highly targeted, one-to-one messaging. On top of that, you need to give consumers reasons to choose you over the competition.

Easy, right? Okay, so, perhaps the peak shopping season can be stressful for retail marketers.

Recently, in my role as Client Success Director EMEA for SAP Emarsys, I had the opportunity to join our partner Wunderkind for a webinar about how retail marketers can get an edge on this year’s holiday season. Megan Kresinske, Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Wunderkind, was a gracious host and interviewer, and I had the opportunity to meet fellow panelist Danie Williams-Rivera, who is a Senior Content Manager at Stylitics, a market leader for automated styling and visual content solutions.

Read on for a quick webinar recap. If you still want more after that, you can watch the full webinar, The Holiday Edge: Actionable Shopping Insights for Black Friday Cyber Monday 2023 for even more insights and tips.

3 Top Consumer Spending Insights from Wunderkind

Wunderkind recently conducted a report surveying 1,000 US and UK consumers. Megan Kresinske at Wunderkind highlighted some key findings, including three major trends that will help you plan ahead for the holiday season.

1. Consumer Cutbacks, And Why You Should Lean into Gen Z

According to the survey, US and UK consumers are cutting back on essentials and luxuries.

The UK showed that they were restricting their spending heavily, with 64% cutting down on non-essentials and 54% cutting back on luxuries. 

As a resident of the UK, I’ve been very aware of this general sentiment. Emarsys is aware that consumers are feeling this way, and it’s why we’ve been leaning into the importance of customer loyalty, so that we can help retail marketers differentiate themselves from their competitors and build long-lasting relationships with their customers. Our clients are also keen to preserve their margins. 

The current trend is for marketers to move away from blanket discounting and uncover where there is margin to discount on products. As I mentioned in the webinar, what you want to do right now is ensure that your discounts are being sent to the right people, and for that you need to rely on personalization and automation, identifying which of your customers need a timely discount and, just as importantly, which ones don’t. 

However, not everyone is cutting back. According to Wunderkind’s report, only 22% of Gen Z intend to reduce discretionary spending right now.

Gen Z is a younger, targetable market. They are digital natives, so marketers need to make sure the messaging resonates, because this cohort will be wary and sensitive to marketing tactics they consider untrustworthy. These days, consumers are even moving away from trusting influencers on social media, and the pervasive sentiment is that influencers aren’t necessarily authentic. 

As Megan said, “Across markets, consumers are actually showing a lack of trust in typical social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok ads.” 

To fight against this lack of trust, Danie recommended that marketers focus efforts on the channels where they have control (such as website rather than social media) in order to create more rewarding and seamless experiences for customers.

2. Brand Perception, And Why Your Own Website Is Key

The advice from all of us on the webinar panel was to “lean into your website as a powerful tool.” 

Your website is an incredibly valuable channel because you have complete control over your customer’s experience when they visit. 

“I think it’s really important to lean in, 1) where your effort is already going, [and] 2), where you actually have control to create this seamless, exciting experience.”

— Danie Williams-Rivera, Senior Content Manager, Stylitics

Different segments of your audience will be looking for different experiences. Tailor your website to speak to them as individuals. By displaying the right content and the right discount to the customer, you can enable their journey with your brand and give them a reason to come back over and over again, through this holiday season and beyond. 

It’s also valuable to ensure that when a customer lands on your website, you’re ready with the right tools in place to collect data (about their clicks, their purchases, their reviews, and more). Use these to keep creating the next great brand moment. When you understand how they want to be treated, you can give them the kinds of experiences they deserve and genuinely appreciate.

3. Deal Hunting, And Why Quality Matters 

With consumers losing trust in influencers and focusing more on finding great deals, they’re much more inclined to compare prices before they make a purchase. Retailers shouldn’t rely solely on brand loyalty in this current economic environment. 

However, price alone isn’t the only consideration on shoppers’ minds. Quality is a top priority for today’s consumers.

“I also thought it was interesting that despite what we found, despite price sensitivity, a large share of consumers across markets, […] over 40%, prioritize quality over quantity and quality over price. So this means that consumers would rather purchase fewer items that are pricier but have higher quality as opposed to a large array of more affordable items.”

— Megan Kresinske, Sr. Director of Product Marketing, Wunderkind

So, when it comes to your marketing campaigns this holiday season, speak to that consumer who is not only hunting for a bargain but also wants to ensure that their purchase will satisfy their needs. 

Creating Exceptional Shopping Experiences

To get that edge this holiday season, consider ways that you can create truly immersive, exciting, and rewarding shopping experiences. Put yourselves in their shoes and consider what is going to make their customer journey more personalized, and then think about what you can do to help guide them along that journey.

During the webinar, Danie showed a demonstration of how consumers can use Stylitics to mix and match items, such as pieces of clothing that when paired together can create a styled look. This sort of experience-focused marketing helps consumers visualize items as part of a set, giving them outfit ideas and allowing them to more easily compare pieces. As Danie said, the experience helps give them “confidence in the purchase.” 

At Emarsys, my team of dedicated Client Success Managers and I get to learn every day about how our clients are engaging customers with personalized and rewarding experiences. In 2022, one of our retail customers set a goal for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to grow their subscriber numbers. To accomplish this, they decided to offer exclusive web channel pop-ups for unidentified or opted-out contacts, giving them the opportunity to become VIP members in order to unlock those Black Friday deals. This tactic inspires a sense of FOMO in the customer, while also rewarding their drive to hunt for deals. Other tactics this brand used included price drop and low-in-stock notifications, as well as win-back campaigns for lapsed VIP members. Watch the webinar to learn more about this customer’s tremendous success.

Get Even More Great Ideas!

The tips and strategies I’ve covered here are only a portion of what you’ll find in the full webinar

If you’re feeling pressure to meet steep goals and you’re looking for ways to inspire your customers, I encourage you to get a nice cup of tea and sit down with Megan, Danie, and me for the full on-demand session. We’ll have you buzzing with ideas that will not only drive your revenue numbers but also give your holiday shoppers great reasons to become your long-term, loyal customers.