Mobile behavior’s impact on the 2018 shopping season

The quickly approaching holiday season is delightful for consumers, but can be headache-inducing for marketers struggling to beat the “retail apocalypse” that’s been plaguing brick and mortar stores for the past several years. Marketers have had to quickly pivot strategies in order to target audiences on mobile and online platforms, but not all physical retailers have suffered. Target’s 6.4% Q2 traffic growth was “by far the strongest since Target began reporting traffic in 2008,” according to a recent GeoMarketing article, and other large retailers are also reporting growing revenue in the era of Amazon and other direct-to-consumer behemoths. This is good news for the retail sector, but it’s still crucial for brands and marketers to gain a solid understanding of how, why, when and where their customers are spending their money.

We conducted a 2,000-person study to understand the actual consumption habits of 2018 shoppers this holiday season and how consumers feel about the retail industry. Our detailed findings can be seen in its entirety within our whitepaper, “A 2018 Holiday Shopping Outlook: How and Where Consumers Will Buy During the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, released today, but there is a common theme throughout the study: the importance of mobile (and the valuable location data that comes with it). It’s a modern and potent tool that marketers, advertisers, and brands alike must have in their arsenal to not only ensure healthy revenue but also ensure they’re reaching the right audience with the right ads at the right time.

Below are some insights for any marketer eager to rethink traditional holiday marketing concepts and embrace the full potential of mobile location data technology:

Holiday shopping is a 363-day conversation

Out of the 2,000 people surveyed for our whitepaper, only 9.2% of respondents indicated they actually buy holiday gifts on Cyber Monday. One in every three Americans buy holiday gifts throughout the year, especially if something someone wants is on sale, which gives marketers an advantage to think about the entire calendar year as an opportunity to use retargeting to their advantage and put the right ads in front of the right people at the right time.

Additionally, marketers looking to reach holiday shoppers specifically on their mobile phones should really hone in on segmentation offers. For example, millennial parents spend more time and money on their mobile phones compared to 35- to 54-year-old parents (who identified a laptop as the primary device used to purchase gifts online, except within the food/beverage category). Via mobile, younger parents are almost 75% more likely to purchase fashion/retail, 70% more likely to purchase beauty, and 50% more likely to purchase within the CPG category than older parents. Brands who haven’t built a substantial m-commerce platform via a proprietary app like Sephora, as an example (the company has the most popular app in the beauty category), are likely missing out on good opportunities with this segment.

More than one-third of food and beverage purchases are made on a mobile device

Brands are seeing the value in investing more and more into their m-commerce capabilities, which should be no surprise given how much revenue analysts predict mobile shopping will bring in this holiday season. 82.4% of 2018 holiday shoppers plan to do most of their holiday shopping either online or in-person at a retailer like Target, Walmart, and/or Amazon. The research shows that for brands willing to invest in the mobile experience, there is huge opportunity to capture the consumer mindset. As a small gift back to physical retail, when consumers do shop in-store, they use their mobile phones to price compare and to double or triple check their instincts.

When we asked respondents which device they used to purchase across seven categories: games/electronics, food/beverage, technology/devices, CPG, fashion/retail, beauty, and home/lifestyle, mobile was the winner for food/beverage (35.8%). When you cross this with the top 100 paid apps in the Apple iPhone store, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Chick-fil-A dominate the category, as do Uber Eats, DoorDash, and GrubHub on the food delivery side. This means any restaurant or QSR who hasn’t invested in a mobile app is missing out on valuable revenue. Brands must build up their mobile offering or lose customers to their competitors who have.

Brands are changing consumers’ behavior, not the other way around

For brands building their own mobile ecosystem, there’s a huge opportunity to engage with consumers in a similar fashion as they would in a brick and mortar store. Retargeting truly becomes essential in this case, as it’s an ideal way to find opportunities to get in front of shoppers at the right time, whether they’re in your store or interacting with your brand in some capacity online, and follow-up with continued deals or promotional messaging. For example, an apparel brand can retarget a shopper with a tailored ad mobile for a pair of shoes he or she left in a digital shopping cart, possibly even with a coupon to hopefully convert the purchase.

At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong way of managing your marketing and advertising initiatives during the holidays, but what’s most important is that a comprehensive mobile strategy be considered and woven into your campaign. Being truly present with the consumer right up to the point of purchase, and resurface key messages once the shopper has had the opportunity to make a purchase, can make a big difference during the holidays, but also year-round.

Brick and mortar stores may be considered long dead, but in reality it’s the marketing and advertising techniques used in conjunction that are now defunct. Using modern tech like location data to bolster your marketing strategy will hopefully let all marketers enjoy the holiday season right along side consumers.

Download our latest paper here.

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