How brands can prepare for the 2021 festive shopping season in Australia

The race to stand out in the festive shopping season has begun.

December 25th might be months away, but the race to stand out in the festive shopping season has well and truly begun for brands.

In fact, those wanting to stand out in this competitive market need to be hitting play on their festive activity now to avoid being left behind.

And in 2021, brands have big opportunities to tap into. The latest stats from Google reveal that 84% of Aussie shoppers say they’ll be spending the same or even more during this holiday season. In fact, Aussies are tipped to spend $11 billion on Christmas gifts this year, with the December quarter expected to smash e-commerce records.

To help you stay ahead of the pack, we’ve rounded up the top insights from Pinterest, Facebook and Google to help you prepare for the holiday season (and beyond).

Don’t delay prepping for the holiday season

Did you know that 80% of Aussies start thinking about gifting before December? And fewer Aussies are leaving their purchases to the final hour with Google reporting fewer last-minute shoppers in 2020 (a trend predicted to continue in 2021).

We also know this: Pinterest users (a.k.a. “pinners”) are the earliest festive season planners. So, when picking which channel to launch your Christmas activity, start there.

For brands, now is the time to act to ensure you’re capturing buyers this holiday season.

It’ll come as no surprise that buyer habits have changed since the pandemic. In fact, Facebook has reported an uptick of 34.9% more online purchases in 2020 compared to 2019. Now, product research, discovery and purchase is happening online, not in-store.

And major sales events have a bigger role to play in the Australian market, too. More Aussies are looking to score deals in November thanks to shopping events like Cyber Weekend and Black Friday (in fact 37% of holiday shoppers start their festive shopping ahead of Black Friday in Australia).

So, what steps should brands be taking to get in front of shoppers early?

  • Adopt a full-funnel strategy from day one: your strategy needs to build awareness, drive consideration and get conversions from the beginning of your holiday campaign. And here’s why: Pinterest reveals their always-on advertisers drive +5.2x higher CVR than episodic advertisers.

  • Phase and flight your budget in line with customer behaviour: Pinterest recommends brands launch to customers with a high weighting of awareness spend from September to early October, before rapidly increasing conversion spend throughout the final weeks of October and early November.

  • Capitalise on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale periods: these peak gifting moments in late October and November offer huge opportunities for brands to get in front of shoppers when they are primed and reach to buy. In 2020, these online sales brought $5 billion in sales from Australian consumers, up nearly 30% from 2019.

Adapt to changing festive shopping habits

The days of flocking to shopping centres and browsing festive shop windows are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Now, product research and discovery is happening online.

Google reveals that Aussie shoppers search online ahead of at least 9 in 10 in-store purchases. And 85% of shoppers headed to Google’s ecosystem to inspire their next festive purchase in 2020, making it a powerful platform to prioritise for brands.

So, what should brands be doing to adapt to changing festive shopping habits?

Google recommends brands look for omnichannel opportunities to connect with shoppers who are searching for that perfect gift. Their tip? Leverage automation and smart bidding to capture demand and consider ways to remove friction in shopping experiences from online to offline (such as offering things like a curbside pickup).

Plus, personalisation is giving brands the edge in the competitive festive market. According to Facebook, 24% of holiday shoppers agree it's easier to complete end-year shopping with personalised products and gift suggestions they see on Facebook and Instagram.

That means it’s time to tap into first-party data and predictive technology that allows you to curate virtual shop windows customised to each users’ search behaviour and preferences.

As far as messaging goes, it’s worth focusing on online from the September to November period before shifting to in-store and click-and-collective messages when December comes around. That’s because customers are more likely to head in-store for those last-minute items, rather than risk an online order.

Plus, be clear on shipping cuts off and be transparent about turn-around times to avoid negative consumer feedback. No one wants to be responsible for ruining Christmas.

Think beyond the festive season

But the opportunity for brands doesn’t end when Christmas wraps up. In fact, now is the time to be thinking about your activity into the summer season and beyond and setting up the right infrastructure to support your festive season campaigns in 2022.

We suggest using this time to capture first-party data that you can harness to your advantage in the new year. From launching loyalty programs to running lucrative campaigns, consider how you’ll get increased mileage from your holiday content (and the strong pool of users who will be engaging with your brand).

It’s worth considering ways to drive brand preference through early access or special offers for loyalty members (as well as being another opportunity to grow your first-party data).

Plus, it’s worth mixing up your messaging during the festive season. That means sharing value-add content (not just sales and offers) to help your brand stand out from the crowd and build brand salience.

This question needs to be at the forefront of your holiday activity in 2021: how are you going to hook buyers in and entice them to share their information to fuel your personalisation in 2022?

Ready to unlock the potential of first-party data to accelerate your success in the new year? Get in touch with us to see how TP can move the needle for your business

Rawanne Auda, is an Account Director at The Pistol, overseeing a wide portfolio of Retail and FMCG clients including Cotton On Group, L'Oreal and Mission.

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