Holiday 2016 Planning
Roberto Ramos, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Creative Services, The Doneger Group
October 23, 2016
The holiday season is the most important time of year for retailers as they seek to close out the year strongly and kick off the New Year positively. Consumers look to the holidays as a magical experience, a time of giving and for finding spectacular value with as little friction as possible.
As part of its ongoing review of trends and consumer sentiment, The Doneger Group surveyed 250 consumers about their shopping plans for the 2016 holiday season.
"Across the board, consumers are conducting their search for the perfect holiday gift earlier. They are doing this online, but with physical discovery still playing a big role, especially, and somewhat surprisingly, with younger consumers. They all want something different and at the best value. This search for something unique is prodding many to explore spending money and gifting experiences, creating new holiday opportunities for industries such as entertainment and travel," states Roberto Ramos, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Creative Services at The Doneger Group.
Consumers are beginning the research process earlier than ever. The Black Friday period begins right after Thanksgiving. The challenge is to continue to deliver novelty throughout the season without overwhelming and tiring the consumer.
Younger consumers, driven by busy lives and the on-demand power of digital media, are researching gifts later. This makes function-driven benefits such as free shipping and timely delivering key. It creates opportunities to help them discover and plan in little time.
The season continues to be one of altruism, as gifting for family and friends is the top reason for buying. Families are focusing on experiences, with a significant percentage of holiday spending going to activities such as dining out.
Not surprisingly, apparel, toys and tech gadgets rate high on consumers' shopping list. What's interesting is a shift towards giving gift cards, removing the guessing factor. Gift cards create an attractive business opportunity for brands, but they must imbue them with a bit of creative whimsy so they elicit a stronger emotional reaction from the recipient. On this front, giving experiences is on the rise as everyone wants something a bit more meaningful.
The interplay between digital and physical guides consumers as they look for the best gifts. The trick is to connect them thematically and operationally so the consumer embarks on the same experience, both in-store and online. Consumers also want to get the gift that's right for the specific personality of the recipient. This creates interesting opportunities for personalization tools, such as wish lists and questionnaires, to make sure the buyer will gift something truly treasured.
The interesting insight here is that while more digital than older generations, the younger consumer is more interested in a physical retail discovery experience. This is consistent with what we're seeing with this segment, as they're pairing digital with a focus on experiences such as dining out and attending music festivals.