Thanksgiving weekend isn’t just a big deal for retail businesses. It’s huge for incentive program planners. This is the gift-giving season, after all, and your program participants are the very same people who will be out on Black Friday tackling their holiday shopping. Don’t miss the chance to engage with them and bring them into your rewards portfolio.
The National Retail Federation just released its annual holiday shopping survey, and there are plenty of takeaways for everyone managing rewards portfolios for loyalty and incentive programs.
How many people will be shopping — and when?
As NRF’s survey shows, Thanksgiving weekend is still the king of the shopping season: More than two-thirds of Americans (69 percent) plan to shop over the holiday weekend. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday in the mix, each day draws a different appeal to a different type of customer.
So when exactly are people planning to do their shopping over that long holiday weekend?
- Thursday/Thanksgiving Day: 20 percent (32 million)
- Friday/Black Friday: 70 percent (115 million)
- Saturday/Small Business Saturday: 43 percent (71 million) — with 76 percent saying they will shop specifically to support small businesses
- Sunday: 21 percent (35 million)
- Monday/Cyber Monday: 48 percent (78 million)
What’s driving shoppers to shop?
Possibly most surprising from the above data is that almost as many people (43 percent) plan to do their shopping on Saturday as on Cyber Monday (48 percent), with 76 percent of those Saturday shoppers saying they’ll do so specifically to support Small Business Saturday. That’s a total of 33 percent of all holiday weekend shoppers who plan to support small and local businesses.
Overall, though, deals and promotions are still what lead people to shop: The number one reason cited for shopping over the holiday weekend is to take advantage of retail offers (66 percent), with the number two reason at just 26 percent, citing the tradition of shopping as what brings them out.
Who will be shopping — and what for?
Another survey released by the NRF looks specifically at the holiday shopper demographics and what they’ll be shopping for this year.
Spending is up this year, the NRF data shows: About half of shoppers plan to spend the same as last year, but about one-quarter (24 percent) plan to spend more — with millennials planning to increase spending the most. Almost half of the younger Gen Zers (46 percent) plan to spend more than last year, and 39 percent of older millennials, those ages 25-34, plan to increase their spending.
What will people be shopping for? Sixty-one percent of people plan to shop for clothing and accessories this season, and 59 percent plan to give gift cards. The third most popular category for gifts will be books/music/video games.
As any parent knows, toys are always a huge part of the holiday gift season. And for this year, the NRF survey shows classically popular toy categories still in the lead: The top toys for girls are anticipated to be Barbie, traditional dolls, and other branded dolls/stuffed animals. For boys, the top trends are LEGOs, followed by video games, then cars/trucks and Star Wars toys.
What are the takeaways?
- Be prepared for more (younger!) shoppers. Spending is anticipated to be up this year, especially among younger millennials, so so make sure your online stores, rewards platforms, and technology systems are ready to operate without a hitch. Millennials are more connected to tech than any other generation, and they’re demanding mobile platforms for shopping and loyalty rewards, so make sure your technology is smooth on the back end of your incentive and rewards platforms.
- Roll out seasonal holiday campaigns with special deals and promotions — and communicate those clearly to your participants. Consumers are specifically looking for deals, so send out those reminder emails in advance, and promote over the entire weekend, not just before Thanksgiving. Shoppers will be active over the entire holiday weekend, so make you’re communicating with them and offering them ways to engage and redeem over the entire weekend.
- Offer an assortment of products and rewards in your portfolio. Be strategic and thoughtful in creating a diverse offering with your rewards. Shoppers are looking for clothing, accessories, gift cards, and all sorts of entertainment and media gifts, so offer a broad array of product categories. And offer items that span several price points, so shoppers can mix and match their gifts and redemptions from a number of gift-worthy categories.
- Go big — while also going small. Any rewards portfolio should include trending big-name products and gift cards for the more traditional shoppers; that’s a given. But today it’s just as important to include socially and environmentally conscious brands. Consumers are increasingly interested in supporting small businesses, local businesses, and organizations with a strong mission, so be sure to keep those brands in mind when you craft your portfolio.
What are you doing with your rewards programs to capture participants’ attention over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend? Share your insights and predictions in the comments below.
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