Grumbling about holiday décor in your local store? You're not alone. In fact, nearly three-quarters of Americans agree. A Creditcards.com poll showed that 73 perfect of polled adults agreed with the statement "it is annoying that the holiday shopping season has gotten earlier." Yet that doesn't mean they're boycotting the shopping lists – in fact 14 percent of survey respondents said they had started holiday shopping. One percent says they're already finished!
The good news is that aside from the over-achieving 1 percent of holiday shoppers, the rest are either at it already or about to be. As marketers, we've got work to do. Since the majority of shopping takes place in the month of December, right now marks the point at which you should be double-checking that your customer-facing systems are presenting a cohesive message to consumers. Avoiding unnecessary frustrations across touchpoints ensures they have a unified experience across platforms. Over time, your trustworthiness and familiarity proves that consumers can return to your brand for many of their holiday needs.
But even more important than the immediate to-do is following up on any advances you've put into place to capture consumer preferences. Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication, is the best way to encourage customers to engage with you on their terms. By acting on data provided by customers themselves throughout the year, you're able to shape and build relationships over time. Which means that come holiday shopping season, even that one percent of earlybird shoppers will have made their purchases thanks to guidance and communications from you that reflect their stated needs.
Another finding of the same survey? "Younger shoppers are also more likely to welcome an earlier start to the holidays. About one-third of millennials said they are not annoyed by early holiday shopping, double the rate of baby boomers... Not surprisingly, millennials are the most excited about shopping via mobile. One in five people ages 18 to 35 said their mobile devices would be their primary way to shop for the holidays."
That contingent represents a massive opportunity to coordinate across touchpoints for preferences. By offering personalization, time-saving opportunities or anticipatory answers to questions, you can be the big win in a hectic season that ends all too quickly.
Ninety-nine percent of customers are waiting for you. Have you spent the year earning your spot on their must-shop list?
Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hit bookstores in the summer of 2013. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.
Labels: baby boomers, consumer preferences, creditcards.com, customer-facing systems, Millennials, personalization, preference management, shopping via mobile, unified experience across platforms