How Dark Social Can Shine a Light on Consumers’ Christmas Shopping Habits

Last year, the UK spent a total of £77.56 billion for during the festive season.[1] According to Nationwide Building Society[2], people in Britain on average buy 14 individual gifts during the festive season, totalling £645 of spend per person.

Online shopping has made it easy to purchase presents at the last minute, further eliminating the need to venture in store. It’s not surprising then, that nearly a quarter of all Christmas purchases are made online.[3]

According to RadiumOne’s Christmas Insights Report , three in five people (62 per cent) start planning their festive purchases within three months of Christmas. This time period is critical for marketers who want to make sure their brand memorable for consumers.

Further research reveals that there are three distinct phases across the shopping period. The first step to cracking the Christmas consumer is recognising their behaviour and shaping campaigns around peoples’ needs accordingly. Marketers need to tread carefully so that they can to capitalise on the heightened amount of shopping.

Don’t forget about Black Friday

Last year, the highest rate of purchases peak over the entire Christmas shopping season happened on Black Friday. 2017 is set to follow this trend. While brand sales at Christmas time remained above average compared to the rest of the year, RadiumOne found that there is a clear spike in online transactions on Black Friday.

Black Friday is no longer just for tech and gadgets, either. We found that online sales in a number of categories jumped during the period. Black Friday is when most gift hunters take to the web to stock up on gifts, regardless of category. In fact, technology and jewellery sales increased by 52 per cent and 48 per cent respectively, and sports and beauty purchases increased by a third.

Dark social reveals consumer intent

RadiumOne’s findings also showed that 80 per cent of festive shoppers share Christmas content through dark social channels such as email or instant messaging. With such a large portion of consumers sharing content on these channels, dark social is a key component of the Christmas shopping cycle.

Dark social sharing can also show signs of intent for later purchase, with one in two (50 per cent) people sharing technology gift ideas via these channels and one in three (33.3 per cent) people sharing fashion gifts, then going on to the point of purchase.

Use a mixture of screens

Using multiple screens is key to engaging customers in the run-up to Christmas. Mobile is key for researching those perfect presents, but when it comes to conversion, consumers continue to prefer desktop and laptop. Almost a third (29 per cent) of consumers use both mobile and desktop in their shopping journey, while 64 per cent prefer to stick to one screen.

Marketers would be unwise to disregard mobile in their Christmas campaigns. Cross-device is as key to shopping at Christmas as it is at any other time of year, and a successful marketing strategy is one which is executed across channels.

Marketers can optimise the ROI from their campaigns by understanding in on their target audience’s sharing and planning habits. And this is even more crucial in the festive period, when the frenzy of Christmas campaigns can create a lot of noise.

The full report can be viewed here: http://go.radiumone.com/christmas2017.

Craig Tuck

EMEA Managing Director at RadiumOne
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