High-spending hopes for UK retail holiday season

By Giles Ivey, UK CEO MiQ

2019: certainly an uncertain year overall, but as we career head-first into another holiday season, hopes are high for retail. MiQ’s new 2019 Holiday Shopping Study shows 90% of UK shoppers planning to spend the same or more this holiday than last. This is particularly prevalent in the 18-34 age bracket, with nearly half (45%) of UK millennials planning to spend more.

So for advertisers aiming to capitalise on this and run a successful holiday shopping campaign, it’s important to understand consumer behaviours and how they affect the opportunity to show ads to their target audience, and the cost of doing so. To that end, where, when and what will Brits spend on this year?

Where: The ever-rising mobile tide

Our report shows shopping will be mostly online, with less than a quarter of the UK considering any offline purchases. This is the case even on Black Friday: among those planning to shop in-store, more than half (61%) plan to shop online as well, making digital strategies critical for marketers looking to capitalise on these events to drive sales. While desktop and laptop just beat mobile to the post when it comes to final purchases, mobile must not be forgotten: it’s the preferred device for consumers to maintain wishlists and compare products. Those who do, will spend more than three hours per week conducting pre-sale activity on a mobile device. As such, media buyers should focus their spend on mobile at these times.

When: The even-earlier birds catch the worm

Along with the question of “where” to promote deals, comes “when?”. While September kick-starts the plans for spending, the end of October is peak purchase season, earlier than the “event” sales moments in the holiday season.

That said, most holiday shoppers (75%) plan to shop on at least one of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Boxing Day – and nearly half (43%) on all three. This reiterates the impact these super-hyped occasions will have on end-of-year results for retail businesses and as such, while it’s wise for digital marketing strategies to start mid-Q3, even with inflated inventory costs, these “event” times are still critical for advertisers in driving sales.

What: Chocolates, booze and socks – classic present choices dominate

Perhaps inevitably given the holiday season, food or alcohol products are what UK shoppers are most likely to click the buy button for, where the average buyer will spend £174.46. Clothing is hot on its heels, with nearly three-quarters planning to spend in this product category.

So: Think smart, target the loyal and the new

To truly maximise the opportunity this season brings, marketers must be smart and selective about where and when to activate in order to maximise budgets and resources.

While our Holiday Shopper Study is a useful starting point, to effectively prepare, businesses need to combine as much historic data, consumer trends and deep customer understanding as possible to help predict customer patterns.

Smart use of data and insights – ultimately the “when and how” to reach and influence customers – is the differentiator to keep your customers keen (vital, or your competitors might take advantage). It will also help them expand their purchases via well-timed offers and informed suggestions of what they may not realise they are in-market for. Last but not least, tailored activities across the customer journey will also entice and engage new customers.

But while it’s vital to set up for success, it’s not just in the preparation; keep building on this bed of insights so you’re in a position to optimise your marketing based on what consumers are doing in real time. Remaining vigilant and responsive throughout the season will ensure maximum conversion and minimal wasted spend.

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