We’ve all had that thought – accompanied with a familiar sinking feeling – that Christmas seems to arrive earlier every year. Indeed, for many, Christmas really does start while we’re still trying to make the most of the longer, lighter summer evenings – during August last year we recorded more than a staggering half a million Christmas related searches on eBay.co.uk.

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However, with only a week to go until the big day, our data tells us that there are still plenty of opportunities for brands to get their share of festive spend, with consumers around the country making purchases right up until the eleventh hour.

In fact, between the 17th and 23rd December last year, shoppers made more than 385,500 searches for Christmas related items on eBay.co.uk. Christmas Eve itself saw 27,000 searches, as shoppers scrambled for last minute presents.

For brands across all sectors, peak season is seen as a crucial time to cash in on increased consumer spend. But with competition at an all-time-high, brands who can harness the right insights to effectively target late shoppers will take the lion’s share of the last minute market this Christmas.

Think beyond the stereotypes

At Christmas – even more so than any other time of the year – there’s a strong temptation from marketers to group shoppers by pre-determined character stereotypes. Women are typically thought to be hyper-organised, having everything bought and wrapped by the beginning of December, whilst lackadaisical men are expected to leave all of their shopping to the final hours. In practice, our data shows that these stereotypes don’t ring true.

Last year, the ladies were making the majority of Christmas related searches in the final days before Christmas on eBay.co.uk.

And with just one week to go, on December 17, women made 54% more searches for Christmas items than their male counterparts; a trend which continued throughout the final week before the big day.

As the speed and availability of online retail continues to disrupt traditional shopping patterns, marketers need to stop thinking in stereotypes and attune themselves to the individual needs and wants of their consumers.

Be in the right place at the right time

Thanks to the boom in e-commerce platforms over the last decade, today’s marketers have a huge wealth of shopper data right at their fingertips. Rather than second guessing who is going to be shopping for what and when, they can instead draw on data-informed insights to ensure they’re advertising the right products to the right people in the right places.

The days of the long, linear Christmas purchase funnel are over, with shoppers now browsing and buying as and when they’re in the mood to shop.

This means it’s crucial for marketers to be aware of different triggers which could cause different shopper segments to engage with their brand, regardless of whether it’s two months or two days before Christmas.

This is the thinking at play behind our advanced targeting tools which use observed shopper data and predictive analytics to replace standard segmentation with hyper relevant targeting solutions based on audience’s specific interests and previous behaviours.

Factor in flexibility, leave some fuel in the tank

Like all campaigns, preparation and forward planning are vital considerations at Christmas. But marketers can’t afford to ignore the potential for external factors to distort shopping patterns.

Whether it’s the emergence of the latest fad or a flurry of unusual purchases brought on by a freak weather change, the campaigns which perform best are always those which allow for a degree of flexibility and which take into account the changing psychology of gift buying as the big day approaches.

Our data shows that for many shoppers, restraint goes out of the window in the last moments before Christmas. Spurred on by a sense of last minute present panic, we saw shoppers make more than 107,000 Christmas related searches for necklaces and over 75,000 for handbags between the 17 and 23 December last year.

With shoppers ready to splash the cash in the final run up to the big day, it’s going to be the brands who’ve held back some advertising budget for the eleventh hour who’ll see the best return.

Seizing the final festive flurry

The festive season might start earlier each year, but with consumers still frantically trying to fill stockings up until Christmas Eve, there’s no sign of a lull in shopping before the big day.

For brands, this means there is no such thing as winding down to Christmas – they must keep their foot on the gas until the finish line to snap up their share of the last minute market.

By using smart data insights to understand how individual audiences behave online and how to target the late shopper segments, brands can make sure they’re truly cashing in on the countdown to Christmas.

 

‘Capitalising on the last minute Christmas opportunity’, (marketingtechnews.net), Rob Bassett, December 2016

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