As marketers in the U.S. gear up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, China celebrated Singles’ Day on 11/11, which is China’s biggest online shopping day of the year. eCommerce giant Alibaba absolutely destroyed last year’s performance, experiencing 67 percent growth not including expected merchandise returns. While industry analysts and experts question some of the nmbers and projected growth data, there are a few trends U.S. retail and eCommerce marketers should bake into their Black Friday and Cyber Monday plans.
1) Mobile will be HUGE – We know mobile is growing. And, for Alibaba, it was reported that as many as 82 percent of purchases on that day were made via mobile. This is a significant increase over last year which was around 69 percent. By comparison, last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the U.S. via mobile were roughly 35 percent. So, marketers in the U.S. should make sure to skew more of their marketing dollars toward mobile. Ensure, for example, that most your social ads are being served on mobile. Monitor and optimize throughout the holiday to guarantee you are making the most of your marketing dollars and dedicating enough to mobile.
2) AR and VR experiences a must – Alibaba rolled out support for virtual reality in the week leading up to 11/11. This allowed consumers to ‘virtually’ shop department stores like Macy’s from anywhere. The concept is still new, but no doubt it will become a more prevalent and important medium as virtual reality and augmented reality gain a foothold among increasing numbers of consumers. Goldman Sachs predicts by 2025 VR/AR’s total addressable retail market to be $1.3 billion with roughly 32 million users. The retailer categories with the most growth opportunity include apparel, beauty, home/home improvement and automotive. IKEA is one of the first to create an augmented reality app to accompany its catalog so consumers can see how items might look in their home. Survey data from Statista shows that of 1,013 individuals aged 19-49, 70 percent were either “very interested” or “quite interested” In VR. This data signals that incorporation of some VR or AR component in your holiday retail marketing mix is sure to stimulate interest, engagement and sales.
3) Think Global – More than 14,000 international brands, including Apple and Nike, participated in Alibaba’s Singles’ Day, with consumers in some 207 countries buying items on the site during the sale. Deals and sales are of interest globally. So, when thinking about big deal days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, look beyond the U.S. market with your marketing dollars and dedicate some coin to international sales growth.
4) Channel the U.S. Consumer Mindset – While global markets will be an opportunity to grow market share and sales this holiday season, U.S. retailers and eCommerce giants do have to pay close attention to the mindset of its primary target audience – American holiday shoppers. According to a post-election survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, more than a quarter of consumers say the election will impact their spending plans for the holidays. In addition, 43 percent say they are being more cautious with their spending due to the uncertainty of the election season. Despite the caution, great deals and promotions, as well as the ‘experience’ of Black Friday, remain strong drivers for purchase. However, holiday marketers need to approach consumers with some sensitivity. It has been a grueling election season. Consumers are exhausted, tired and over-exposed to messaging and chatter. Give them some time. Allow them to decompress. Connect with them in meaningful ways. Understand that they may want to cocoon for a while. Look for ways to bring comfort and warmth. Appeal to them through the true meaning of the holidays – thankfulness, helping others, connection. Dial-down the self-promotional tone and be there when they are ready to buy. Empathize and try to resist the temptation to bombard them with holiday advertising to meet your sales goals. Your dollars may be better spent after Thanksgiving when most consumers prefer to be courted.