Brands must expect the unexpected to succeed this peak season

By Harmony Murphy GM Advertising UK at eBay

In a year full of change and upheaval, shopper behaviours have become more unpredictable than ever. And, with Christmas just around the corner, the pressure is still on for brands to ensure their Christmas campaigns remain relevant to a transformed – and transforming – consumer, up to and beyond the 25th.

To help brands see through the fog of uncertainty, we recently launched our Also Bought Report, which sheds a light on some of the more weird and wonderful things that people shop for.

Based on analysis of the shopping behaviour of the 32 million monthly users on, our report unveiled some of the UK’s more unusual shopping habits and identified a number of ‘out of the box’ audience segments that brands should consider when creating their marketing strategies. After all, if brands can reach their audiences in unexpected places where there’s likely to be less competition, they can look to gain more cut-through – and a greater boost on their bottom line.

For instance, one of the brand-new audience segments to have sprung out of the pandemic is the Facemask Fashionista. On more than 28,000 occasions, eBay observed shoppers searching for both “face masks” and “jewellery” in the same session between March and August as they looked to bling up their COVID-secure outfits. Meanwhile, working parents saw their home become both their workplace and nursery, so we weren’t surprised by the appearance of the New Parents in Denial audience category. eBay saw people search for both “cot” and “headphones” in the same session on 18,858 occasions between March and August.

With consumer preferences and desires changing in the blink of an eye, our insights show how important it is that brands stay on top of changing habits – and ensure they can reach people at the right time with things that will surprise and delight them.

Using fresh data will be essential for brands to accomplish this — both during peak season and beyond. With the most up to date – and even real-time – insights, marketers can ensure they’re serving the most relevant and effective content or advertising, whoever their customer is today or tomorrow. It’s by knowing exactly what shoppers are after at any given moment and catering to their customers’ current desires that brands can not only increase ROI, but also boost customer experience and loyalty in the long run.

Ultimately, “off the shelf” marketing is no longer enough. Brands looking to get the most bang for their buck, this peak season and beyond, need to be 100% in-tune with their customers. Gone are the days when brands are prepared to acknowledge they can waste spend by serving ads to audiences that won’t be interested in them. Instead, they need to have full control, and knowledge of, the people that they’re engaging with in order to maximise impact, properly convey their brand’s message and gain the most cut-through during the 2020 peak season.

At a time when COVID has shaken up the retail space, it’s imperative that brands harness the data insights that allow them to remain nimble and adaptive with their marketing strategies. It’s those brands that can embrace uncertainty and cater to a changing consumer that will be ahead of the pack this Christmas and New Year.

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