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5 inspiring and useful consumer trends to stay on top of your game this holiday season

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We’re approaching a somewhat more ‘normal’ Christmas for the first time in about two years, with restrictions being lifted and the vaccine being successfully rolled out across the world. Yet, a simple look will be enough to realise that there is no going back to what used to be ‘normal’: consumer habits have been changed drastically by the Covid crisis, and we can certainly expect a different holiday season in almost every regard.

As customers flock to the stores for their earliest Christmas shopping ever, there are some trends that key associations and companies in the industry have identified to help us navigate this holiday season. Here are 5 inspiring and useful consumer trends to step into the holiday season as prepared as we’ll ever be.

1 in 2 people will shop exclusively online this Christmas

According to a survey by Outbrain in the UK, nearly half of UK consumers are looking to shop exclusively online this holiday season. The company surveyed 1,000 UK consumers to uncover their spending habits for the next few months.

As we approach the year’s busiest shopping season, the convenience of online shopping in the most up-to-date e-commerce platforms will be impossible to ignore. Following a couple of years in which consumers rediscovered the power of shopping online, only 6% of consumers are planning to shop exclusively in store. User experience, user interface, speed of delivery and ease of navigation will all matter in pushing a customer through from the product page to point of purchase. If you are planning to introduce changes in a website that may improve user experience, there won’t be a better time to do so.


Image credit: Leo Barbosa

Young consumers are embracing sustainable shopping

Back in August, a new IPA-commissioned survey revealed that 56% of 18-24s plan to be more sustainable this Christmas. The surveyed sample was double the size of Outbrain’s consumer trends report, with 2,000 UK adults aged 18+ taking part in the research.

Brands have been taking steps to invest in more sustainable/ethical offers, products and initiatives, and those efforts are truly starting to come through to consumers. Young adults are not the only ones interested in sustainability, however, with 27% of those aged 45-54 and 25% of those aged 55+ interested in finding more sustainable options for their shopping this year. Luke Green, Insight Analyst at IPA, said: “With ESG rising in importance for businesses too, this could be an opportunity for brands and their agencies to think about and communicate their sustainability credentials more this Christmas, while not losing sight of the festive feel. Using less glitter doesn’t mean our ads can’t still sparkle.”

Over a third of consumers are looking for uplifting messages this Christmas

The same IPA survey mentioned above has unveiled that 36% of consumers wish to see a more festive tone in Christmas ads this year, followed by upbeat or optimistic ads (24%), funny ads (21%) and nostalgic ads (17%). Only 5% are interested in Covid-19 focused ads.

It will be too late now to change the scope of your Christmas ad of course, but if you don’t fall within these expectations, don’t despair. There’s still time to adjust your messaging and adapt to these trends in the surrounding collateral of your holiday campaigns. No matter where you are in your release plan, take some time to ensure your campaign is relevant and resonates with consumers looking to see more positive messaging. It is the best way to remain memorable and stand out this holiday season.


Image credit: Ben The Illustrator

Those who shop in-store are looking for new experiences

Long-gone are the days of mindlessly browsing a store until something random pops out. According to a survey by Criteo, 60% of consumers on average are looking forward to in-store experiences for their online shopping. This applies to Gen Z, Get X, Millennials and Boomers alike.

Those brands and retailers able to create meaningful offline moments for their customers are the ones who will stand out more. If it’s true that the future of retail comes with experience and data, retailers should seek to be unique and creative in their offering, daring to risk and invest to bring customers in the store. VR/AR events, special guests, perhaps a blend of digital and physical experiences (enhancing the in-store experience with the use of an app) will all be absolutely suitable and powerful ideas to adopt. In other words: if you can think it, you should probably do it.

20% of consumers want to escape Christmas excess

In the first week of November, a consumer poll carried out by Hall & Partners confirms the findings of the IPA on more ethical, sustainable shopping. However, the Hall & Partners survey sheds light on another issue: 1 in 5 consumers want to escape Christmas excess this year, by spending less and actively avoiding the holiday frenzy.

This newfound desire for escapism is fuelled by the early release of Christmas ad campaigns by the hand of some top brands, including Gap, Very and Disneyland Paris. Some of these ads were released with over two months to go until Christmas. Consumers are getting worried that the cost of holiday shopping will increase due to shortages, and as a response, they will actively be seeking to make more sustainable choices, by avoiding excess and expensive gift buying. Some brands, such as Hobbycraft, have managed to resonate with this rising trend by focusing on the joy of making and gifting something handmade; as the old saying goes, it’s the thought that counts. Now more than ever.


Image credit: Goldstein

It is hard to say right now whether Covid-19 has changed holiday shopping habits forever or if this is just a temporary tidal change. Until we step into the new year, it is hard to give anything at all for granted. What’s certain is that right here, right now, consumers are looking to change their shopping habits to accommodate for a new, simpler and more authentic lifestyle. The one, single best thing you can do for them is show that you care too. And you can only achieve that by listening and taking action towards every concern they may have.

Header image: adam&eveDDB


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