Millennial Habits on Black Friday 2015 vs. 2017

New research from Influenster shows how Millennial Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping habits have changed. And while it’s certainly not great news for in-store retail, it’s not as big a shift as you might expect.

No shopping holiday is more old-school than the retail war zone that is Black Friday. I can remember people camping out the night before for Black Friday deals all the way back to when I was a kid — South Park even did an episode on it! Surely, if there’s one shopping experience tech-savvy, retail-resistant Millennials are going to opt-out of over time, it’s Black Friday, right?

New research from Influenster shows how Millennial Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping habits have changed. And while it’s certainly not great news for in-store retail, it’s not as big a shift as you might expect.

Black Friday for Millennials: 2015 vs. 2017

The research, “Influenster Black Friday and Cyber Monday Millennial Shopping Survey 2015 vs. 2017,” shows a few interesting trends comparing this year’s results to results from two years ago.

For starters, slightly fewer millennials intend to participate in he combined shopping holiday of Black Friday and Cyber Monday: 89 percent vs. 93 percent in 2015.

Out of them, more still intend to shop on Black Friday than Cyber Monday, but the gap is narrowing:

Do you shop more on Black Friday
or Cyber Monday?
2015 2017
More on Black Friday 35% 32%
More on Cyber Monday 26% 30%
Equal on both days 39% 38%

However, far fewer millennials plan to shop in-store on Black Friday: 35 percent in 2017 vs. 61 percent in 2015. And 92 percent of all respondents plan to look for deals online before heading to the stores.

The survey respondents said their overall shopping plans look like this:

How do you plan on shopping this Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday? 2015 2017
Online for Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday 67% 61%
Browsing in stores, before buying online for Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday 44% 29%
In stores for Black Friday 61% 35%
Research online, before buying in stores on Black Friday 48% 40%

On the bright side for retailers, fewer millennials plan on “showrooming,” i.e. shopping on the phone for better deals while looking at the product in-store: 29 percent in 2017 vs. 44 percent in 2015. After all, why go to a store on Black Friday only to find the store you should’ve gone to online? By then, it’s probably already too late to get that doorbuster deal.

When it comes to what wins the sale, online reviews still appear to be the most powerful influencer (although, here it’s worth noting that Influenster is a company that powers online reviews). However, word of mouth has slipped slightly compared to social media:

What factors would most influence your purchase decision this Black Friday/Cyber Monday? 2015 2017
Word of mouth 53% 47%
Online reviews 72% 70%
Social media 58% 61%
Brand websites 47% 39%
News websites 12% 6%
Television 28% 15%
Newspaper 23% 9%
Magazines 24% 10%
Mail catalogues 24% 14%

Computer vs. Mobile, Website vs. App

Out of those who will shop online, there are some interesting changes in where and how. More plan to shop via mobile:

If you plan on online shopping on Black Friday and/or Cyber Mondays how would you do so? 2015 2017
On my desktop/laptop 83% 70%
On my mobile device/tablet 58% 62%

But when it comes to how they’ll prefer to order on mobile, all of the options came in lower than 2015.

If you plan on shopping on your mobile device/tablet, how would you make your purchases? 2015 2017
Through websites 95% 90%
Through apps 55% 50%
Through “buy” buttons on social media 10% 7%

It’s really time we improved that mobile ordering experience!

Holiday Favorites

And to wrap this up, when it comes to where millennials go and the brands they buy, some of the favorites appear to be shifting. Congrats to Target for holding off Amazon and Walmart to be the favorite Black Friday retailer.

Which are your favorite retailers to shop at on Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday? 2015 2017
Target 85% 71%
Amazon 70% 66%
Walmart 66% 54%
Best Buy 49% 29%
Kohl’s 47% 27%
Macy’s 41% 26%
TJ Maxx 33% 26%
JCPenney 35% 21%
Toys ‘R’ Us 36% 20%
Bed Bath and Beyond 39% 20%
Nordstrom 25% 19%
Marshalls 27% 18%
eBay 21% 10%
Dick’s Sporting Goods 17% 9%
Kmart 20% 8%
Sears 18% 7%
Home Depot 13% 7%
Neiman Marcus 8% 5%
Lord & Taylor 6% 3%

In the end, how Millennials shop may be changing, but the raw volume of commerce they’ll participate in this holiday is still staggering.

With October Behind Us, Amazon Wastes No Time Kicking Off the Holiday Shopping Season

On its Black Friday Deals Store, Amazon began rolling out thousands of holiday deals with new sales and promotions launching nearly “every five minutes.”

Some of your kids (or, heck, maybe even you) are still trying to scrub off that Halloween makeup from all of the trick or treating that went on, but if you haven’t already started sending out the latest info on your holiday deals and curated gift guides, you’re already losing ground to Amazon.

In a statement published promptly at 12 a.m. Seattle-time on Tuesday, the e-commerce giant announced the launch of its Black Friday Deals Store and more than a dozen different curated gift guides.

Through its Black Friday Deals Store, Amazon began rolling out some tens of thousands of holiday deals with new sales and promotions launching “as often as every five minutes” on everything from HDTVs to kitchen appliances and toys. The store will remain open through Dec. 22, and will include dozens of daily “compelling Deals of the Day” that will involve big-ticket items.

“Customers love discovering the best deals on the most sought-after products, and our Black Friday Deals Store and curated Holiday Gift Guides offer them a place to do just that – plus enjoy the most convenient shopping experience with tons of super-fast shipping options,” Doug Herrington, SVP of North American Retail at Amazon, said in the statement. “This holiday season, we’re offering more deals than ever before and – for the first time ever – giving Prime members an opportunity to use Alexa voice shopping for purchasing their holiday gifts hands-free. They can make purchases simply by asking Alexa-enabled devices, like the new Echo Dot, while relaxing at home with family and friends.”

The curated gift guides harken to those big and beautiful F.A.O. Schwarz books that used to come in the mail around this time of the year and get all of the neighborhood kids talking about their holiday wish lists. The obvious difference being that Amazon’s guides will be digital only. The most likely-to be scoured by kids and self-shoppers alike: the Electronics Gift Guide, the Home Gift Guide, and (an Etsy-esque competitor) the Handmade at Amazon Holiday Gift Guide.

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-8-15-56-am

Of course, the one that resonates with us, and you, has to be the Electronics Gift Guide (pictured above). Looking through the list of products, retailers can get a sense of what products Amazon expects to deliver the best returns this year. What’s more, retailers can get a look at what they’re up against as far as pricing is concerned.

A quick tour through the Electronics Gift Guide shows that the emerging tech categories are expected to be front and center this year. In particular, Amazon places an emphasis on things like smart home tech, wearables, drones, and robotics. Mixed in, though, are some of the staples of the holidays—things like gaming, TVs, headphones, cameras, and more.

The standout category on that gift guide though? The little box in the top left corner of the screen: those electronics gift ideas that come in under $100. During the holiday shopping season, most consumers are looking for the “big deal.” They’re not looking to spend a fortune on themselves or whoever they’re gifting for, and that under-$100-price-point serves as a clickbaity headline. And listed in the Under $100 portion of the guide is everything from smartphones, cases, and bluetooth speakers, to toothbrushes, razors, and portable hard drives.

Calling out your major deals is great, but the strategy here by Amazon—that every retailer can learn from—is their ability to hit the nail on the head with the core online shopper. Categorize those lower price point items into an under $XX amount, and let your e-tail customers effectively impulse buy right from your website.

The biggest takeaway from all of this Amazon news for retailers? Now is the time to start running those holiday deals of yours. If you’re just planning for Black Friday now, you’re well behind the eight ball. It’s 2016, and if Amazon hasn’t made it clear enough for us all these past three years or so, let it be said here and now. The holidays no longer officially start on Black Friday. They start the second all of the pumpkins are down and candy has been handed out. So, finish that Kit-Kat you’re chowing down on, and get to popping. The holidays are here.

Creative Cage Match: Travel Edition

The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer … and vacation is on my mind. Luckily, I have a trip planned for June to trek off to the Adirondacks, but that leaves plenty of summer days to do more traveling. And my inbox agrees.

Travel DogeThere’s a reason that pro-wrestling is so popular — and it’s not just the juicy drama and bespangled costumes. People love a good fight, and have for millennia, dating back to the gladiators of Rome and beyond.

So, once a month I’m going to select two marketers and toss them into a Creative Cage Match. I’ll be looking at everything ranging from email to direct mail, website to mobile site. It’ll be a mix of objective and subjective, and each time a marketer will walk out of the ring triumphantly.

The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer … and vacation is on my mind. Luckily, I have a trip planned for June to trek off to the Adirondacks, but that leaves plenty of summer days to do more traveling. And my inbox agrees.

In this corner, weighing in at 16 years old and chock-full of user generated content by way of customer reviews, we have TripAdvisor. The site is home to robust travel forums, Best of 2016 lists and a selection of apps. TripAdvisor claims to have more than 60 million members and over 170 million reviews. That’s a lot of vacations.

Across the ring we have 8-year-old travel and hospitality juggernaut Airbnb, disrupting the industry in ways that delight travelers — and home owners — worldwide. The startup site allows hosts to list their properties for rent and provides travelers with the opportunity to rent lodgings and “live like a local.” Airbnb has more than 1.5 million listings in 34,000 cities in 190 countries. Talk about options!

Email vs. Email

First, let’s look at TripAdvisor, which hooked me with this subject line: “And the new #1 island in the world is …” Ooh yes please. I want to know this.

Tripadvisoremail_topTripadvisoremail_bottomAs you can see, this email is PACKED. Let’s unpack it:

  • The tease for the No. 1 island (including a bunch of clues on the form of images and review snippets).
  • Call to action to book a hotel in TripAdvisor.
  • Locations for the 25 best beaches in the world.
  • Airfare rates for a selection of cities — some I’ve been to — from my local airport, PHL.
  • A bunch of special offers for hotels and resorts.
  • The call to action “Where’s this?” (Sadly the link wasn’t working for me)
  • And one more call to action about finding and booking a hotel on TripAdvisor.

It’s a little overwhelming, but if you want to cruise through the email and click on the content that is most interesting to you, it’s easy because everything is neatly compartmentalized.

(Oh, and that No. 1 island? It’s Maui … some place I have yet to go!)

So from gorgeous images to teasing text and plenty of content, TripAdvisor’s email gives you something to spend a little time on. Now let’s look at Airbnb.

Getting the Most Out of Back-to-School Marketing

So, how should marketers redefine their back-to-school efforts to capitalize this time of year? To capture peoples’ interests during the active summer season, marketers must incorporate multichannel efforts to facilitate on- and offline engagement. Search continues to be a proven marketing channel, while implementing social and mobile marketing efforts has shown extensive promise, particularly for back-to-school retailers offering special deals and promotions.

As summer hits its peak, shoppers begin to think about heading back to school and retailers attempt to redefine the back-to-school season. Staples recently declared that the “official” back-to-school season starts on July 14, for example.

However, this time of year is less about defining specific dates and more about redefining ways to reach the right audience at the right connection points. Earlier this month, for example, Google reported that back-to-school queries increased 15 percent compared to the same period in 2008, and that searches on back-to-school shopping usually uptick in June with search activity lasting through late September.

The expanse in the back-to-school shopping season can be attributed in part to the 49 percent of back-to-school shoppers planning to spread out their purchases in order to distribute the cost over a longer period of time, according to a survey by PriceGrabber.

So, how should marketers redefine their back-to-school efforts to capitalize this time of year? To capture peoples’ interests during the active summer season, marketers must incorporate multichannel efforts to facilitate on- and offline engagement. Search continues to be a proven marketing channel, while implementing social and mobile marketing efforts has shown extensive promise, particularly for back-to-school retailers offering special deals and promotions.

In “S-Net (The Impact of Social Media),” a recent report from ROI Research, sponsored by my firm, Performics, when asked which types of content respondents would be interested in receiving from companies on social networks, 49 percent said they look for printable coupons on Facebook while 50 percent of those on Twitter seek notification of sales or special deals.

With these findings in mind, marketers should consider using social networks like Facebook and Twitter to promote special offers on back-to-school items to drive people in-store. Mobile marketing is another effective channel for back-to-school offers. It provides marketers with a more direct way to ensure purchase consideration through the use of text alerts or mobile coupons, in addition to complementary efforts in search and social marketing.

Performics helps clients prepare their back-to-school multichannel marketing efforts on a variety of levels. We recently teamed with one leading technology company to roll out its back-to-school marketing campaigns in early June, using some innovative tactics to capture audiences. For the first time, we implemented vanity display URLs and Google sitelinks in search campaigns to draw shoppers to the client’s back-to-school offerings. Our team also built a list of seasonal keywords around coupons, deals and discounts, supplemented by heavy social marketing campaigns promoting back-to-school products.

Another client, a popular apparel retailer, launched its back-to-school promotions in early July in anticipation of sales increases peaking at the end of this month. It offered shoppers the chance to receive a free smartphone if they purchased online or tried on featured clothes in-store. Advertising online via Facebook campaigns and paid search during back-to-school season, the retailer is coordinating on- and offline efforts by also offering free shipping and 30 percent off on back-to-school items.

Overall, marketers that successfully integrate multichannel efforts stand the best chance of getting the most bang out of their back-to-school buck. Marketers should look to engage back-to-school shoppers through various touchpoints throughout the season, not just at the end of August. Most importantly, manage expectations accordingly and measure marketing efforts often to reap the most reward.

Determining how shoppers respond to back-to-school campaigns and following trends throughout the season can also help brands set successful strategies for the upcoming winter holiday season. — Special thanks to contributing authors Andrea Vannucci and Maren Wesley.