When it comes to Christmas, British shoppers aren’t shy to dig deep and spend big on presents for their family and friends. According to a recent YouGov study, we spent almost £22.5 billion as a nation over the 2014 festive period. To put that into perspective, it’s equivalent to almost 1.1 billion turkeys or 4.5 billion pairs of socks for that last minute stocking filler.

Online retail accounted for almost a quarter (23.4%) of that sum, a figure which has been rising year on year, and shows no sign of slowing down. As the world we live in becomes increasingly mobile, consumers can now browse and buy wherever they are, whenever they want. And when it comes to Christmas, the public are not only spending more, but taking more time to look around for the best offers and the highest quality items.

If marketers can use the right tools and get to know more about customer and their shopping behaviours, they will be able to provide them with the most relevant and most timely materials to drive sales. Here are our top tips for retailers and their marketing teams on how they can make sure they get it right this year:

  1. Know when your customers are shopping
Retailers need to understand when different demographic groups are doing their shopping. Four in ten (38%) women are more likely to spread their shopping over the months before Christmas, whilst 10 per cent of men are more likely to do it all in December. And Generation Y is more likely to wait until the middle of December, getting all their gifts in one short spree. Retailers can use tools such as audience modelling to learn more about certain groups of similar individuals with the same shopping habits to ensure they’re targeting them with marketing messages when they are doing most of their purchasing. Of course marketers should make sure their media plans extend across the whole festive period, but if they can identify when certain audiences are likely to spend more, they can cater their marketing output to these demographics to drive sales.
  1. Help customers save money
Christmas is an expensive time for families, so brands should go the extra mile to help consumers and offer them money saving deals that are specific to them. Our global study revealed that 89% of shoppers said they would be more likely to buy a product if there was a free shipping deal attached, whilst only 12% said the same for an “extended returns” offer. By gaining an extra level of insight through customer surveys, brands can find out which deals are more likely to encourage them to purchase. Gaining this detailed understanding of customer behaviour means marketers can put the best deals forward and help consumers save some cash in the process.
  1. Know how your customers are shopping
Last year, 23% of online Christmas shopping was done via mobile, and with ecommerce amounting to around a quarter of all British spending, retailers need to make sure their online channels are up to scratch. There is an obvious global trend towards mobile and online shopping and brands can capitalise on this by making the e-retail experience quick and easy, no matter what device a customer is on. A study we conducted showed that 13% of customers were likely to abandon their online shop if they experienced technical problems on the site, whilst 8% said they would head to another retailer if their desired item, colour or size was not available. Customers want a seamless service whether they’re browsing your website, your mobile app or your shop floor – so retailers should gain feedback from real customers on their shopping experiences, make changes in line with their responses to ensure the buying process is as smooth for them as possible.
  1. Get into the Christmas spirit
Christmas is all about giving customers memorable experiences which will get them feeling festive. It’s also evident that by doing this, brands can expect to see a boost in sales. Nearly half (48%) of consumers said that they would be more likely to purchase something from a retailer if they felt an emotional connection with their advertising. John Lewis’ Christmas TV adverts, for example, have become an iconic moment because of their emotional clout and appeal to mass audiences. Last year’s “Monty the Penguin” advert was viewed over 16 million times on YouTube in the first week, with thousands of viewers taking to social media to say how the advert left them in tears. This piece of content contributed towards a 17% increase in online trading in the first few weeks of the festive period, showing that customers respond to emotive and narrative-led creative content at Christmas. Brands can make sure they are targeting receptive audiences with their festive display media by tracking their retail patterns. Shopping data can reveal a lot about a consumer, including their tastes and what kind of lifestyle they lead. With this data, retailers can identify unique audience sets that will be most receptive to their Christmas creative.

It goes without saying that Christmas is a hugely important period for retailers and a timely and targeted marketing campaign is essential for attracting customers in the run-up to 25th December. It can be a stressful, busy and expensive time for shoppers, so the more brands can do to make customers’ lives easier and spread a bit of Christmas cheer will go a long way in boosting sales.

By Marie Dalton, Marketing Director EMEA, Connexity