Marketers, Ready Your Aim for Holiday 2012 Now

Not ready for the holiday season yet? Your customers are.

There are officially 77 shopping days until Christmas, assuming that you are one of the brave souls that waits it out to fight the crowds on Christmas Eve Day. There are even fewer days until Hanukkah, with only 61 days before the Festival of Lights begins.

To many of us procrastinators out there, 60 or 70 days seems like an eternity. But here’s the kicker. Many people have already started – and in some cases already finished – their holiday shopping. If you aren’t already reaching out to holiday 2012 gift buyers with your advertising messages now, you are missing a crucial opportunity to increase holiday revenue.

Although late November and December are usually considered the most critical time to advertise to holiday shoppers, 40 percent of consumer shopping activity begins significantly earlier…and it’s getting earlier every year. There is a growing disconnect between consumer shopping behavior and advertiser behavior, which a savvy marketer can take advantage of to gain an edge this holiday season.

I recently authored a comprehensive white paper that reveals pervasive trends in consumer holiday shopping. The research included reviewing the spending habits of more than 8,500 consumers during the 2011 holiday season and was cross-referenced with data from over 500 digital holiday campaigns that ran during the fourth quarter of last year.

This is the third in a five-part series that focuses on the top consumer holiday spending trends and how marketers can capitalize on those trends to increase revenue this holiday season. The full white paper can be downloaded here.

When Retail Advertisers Traditionally Advertise

The holiday season is an incredibly significant time to advertise to retail customers due to the sheer volume of consumers in-market to buy. And with e-commerce, everything is one click – not one highway – away. According to ValueClick Media data, some retail segments run up to 31 percent of their advertising weight in December. The reasons for doing so are varied – some want to break through the clutter and others add additional messages into the market at different times that complement their schedules for the rest of the year. Yet, the market becomes extremely noisy with advertisers all calling out their deals and discounts to highly-engaged holiday shoppers.

impressionsbymonth-tablePercentage of total yearly impressions by month in top retail categories.

The Disconnect That Becomes the Opportunity

Although many consumers report beginning to shop earlier, most retail industries don’t begin heavy spending until November and December. Advertising earlier in the season may be cost-effective – with fewer advertisers in-market, which typically means lower prices and less clutter. By not advertising sooner in the season, marketers are missing a crucial opportunity to influence early holiday shoppers as they begin their gift-buying endeavors and also throughout the purchase process.

shoppingforholidayseason-chartWhen do you start shopping for the holiday season?

It’s tried-and-true advice, but the early bird really does get the worm. Last year, according to our research, nearly 40 percent of shoppers hit the stores before the end of October and that number skyrockets to 80 percent by the end of November. The point is that people are shopping much sooner than many marketers think. This perhaps reflects the “considered” shopping behavior of consumers, expressed in terms of their concerns about economic conditions addressed in the second column in this series.

The lesson here: it’s never too early to start advertising for the holidays. By pulling the trigger on your holiday campaigns now, there is a greater chance that your brand messages will impact those shoppers currently in-market and those with a longer consideration cycle. It’s a win-win for marketers.

Holiday shopping image on home page via Shutterstock.

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