Intense holiday season has begun

Pervasive online price comparisons, the growing popularity of and intense omnichannel activity can be expected this holiday season, according to new consumer research by Market Track.
Pricing is always a consideration for shoppers, but this year transparency will take another leap forward with 85% of all shoppers expected to research prices online and then buy in-store. That figure is up considerably from 54% the prior year, according to Market Track’s survey of 1,000 shoppers. Electronics, small appliances, and toys/games will be the most heavily compared products online. Additionally, the survey revealed that 84% of shoppers plan to shop on Amazon, citing low prices as their reason for doing so. Interestingly, 12% said they plan to shop at online newcomer this holiday.

“This holiday shopping season, shoppers will have more options to shop where and how they want than ever before and they won’t be forced to fight the crowds in-store during a single day event to get the best deals,” said Traci Gregorski, VP of marketing at Market Track. “The gap will close on price differences offered online and in-store, and there will be a move toward retailer messaging that emphasizes making things easy for the shopper such as buy online, pick-up in-store, free shipping on out of stock merchandise, and faster delivery for online orders.”

Chicago-based Market Track, a leading provider of advertising, promotional, brand protection and pricing intelligence solutions, also determined that 83% of shoppers said they plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping on Cyber Monday or earlier. Other noteworthy behavorial shifts were that 41% of shoppers surveyed plan to shop online on Thanksgiving versus 11.1% last year while 36% intend to shop in-store on Thanksgiving this year versus 23% last year.

The survey also predicts that Black Friday will be the dominant day for in-store shopping, with 53% of shoppers reporting that they will shop in-store versus 29% in 2014. Further, Cyber Monday is predicted to win the online shopper with 69% of shoppers reporting that they will shop online that day this season.

The survey results indicate that shoppers will be on the hunt for deals everywhere. Nearly three fourths will turn to print circulars to find deals this holiday, 56% will browse retail websites, 51% will catch sales in TV advertisements and 44% will refer to email promotions that hit their inbox.

Based on the survey, Market Track predict the following trends will prevail in the 2015 holiday shopping season.

Jumping the gun: Look for an increase in “Doorbusters,” “Best deals of the season” and “Don’t wait for Black Friday” messaging to take demand out of the market for hot holiday items starting as early as October.

Dare to compare: The increased promotion of bundled and layered offers, as well as owned and exclusive private-label product lines will make it hard for consumers to do direct comparisons based on price and product features alone.
Back to basics: Tried and true traditional push media, such as circulars, TV/radio advertising and email marketing, will continue to be primary tactics used heavily by retailers to draw shoppers to their stores, leveraged in combination with new media and in the moment advertising.

Mobile and social’s impact becomes meaningful: A focus on enhanced user experience and ease of transacting in social and mobile will increase sales results, in addition to continuing to play a large role in terms of influence on transactions.

Driving traffic through the experience: Retailers will focus on creating events and experiences to drive in-store traffic, such as Toys “R” Us creating a play experience where kids can play with the hot holiday toys in-store. Retailers will also differentiate from online shopping by stressing the “try before you buy” concept, and will create excitement through in-store events such as drawings, sweepstakes, and chances to win prizes and gift cards.

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