The Four Distinct Holiday Shopper Segments – And How to Reach Them

September 26, 2017 Posted by - CMO

At one point in time, consumers relegated most of their holiday shopping to Black Friday. Every year, holiday shoppers would line up in droves for those coveted Black Friday deals. But, in Cardlytics’ holiday purchase analytics, we see that Black Friday is losing relevance. In 2016, there were 15% fewer Black Friday shoppers than the previous year.

But, retailers need not fret. From our purchase intelligence, we see that there are four distinct shopper timing segments that contribute to overall holiday spend. And, for the most profitable holiday season, retailers must market to each one.

Steady Shoppers

Instead of one big shopping event, Steady Shoppers prefer to distribute their holiday spend throughout the season. This shopper segment will likely buy from several retailers, online and in-store, picking out gifts as they come across them. Steady Shoppers accounted for the majority of spend, 46%, in 2016, and that spend is growing year over year. In 2015, Steady Shoppers accounted for 44% of spend.

How to engage Steady Shoppers: To keep Steady Shoppers engaged throughout the season, offer them cash-back deals for return trips. A multi-pronged marketing campaign, for online and offline channels, is also key. Whether on their computer, in their mobile banking app, or walking past a store, this segment purchases gifts as the mood strikes. Retailers who keep their brand top of mind will win this shopper segment’s spend.

Early Birds

Early Bird Shoppers aim for efficiency, getting their shopping done early and usually at fewer stores. While Early Birds made up only 10% of holiday spend last year, it’s still imperative retailers reach this segment to capture the initial holiday spend that is critical to reaching overall holiday sales goals.

How to engage Early Birds: Retailers that want to reach Early Birds should cater to this segment’s “power shopping” behavior. Marketing campaigns should emphasize gift variety, indicating that shopping can be done quickly and efficiently with their brand.

Black Friday Shoppers

While Black Friday Shoppers are declining year over year, these shoppers still accounted for 16% of spend in 2016. In addition to standing in line for in-store sales, this segment also likes to get their holiday deals online. We see that this segment’s spend with online brick & mortars (the online channel for retailers with a physical store) increased by 3% from 2015 to 2016. Within the same time frame, Black Friday Shoppers’ spend at online-only retailers increased 7%.

How to engage Black Friday Shoppers: Black Friday Shoppers want to get the best price for the best product. They also like to feel like they’re getting deals other shoppers aren’t. Retailers can engage this shopper segment with “secret” deals, like deeper discounts for email subscribers. For an added bonus, making the deals shareable, e.g. friends and family discounts, enables retailers to reach shoppers who are not on the mailing list.

Last-Minute Shoppers

With spend growing 8% year over year, the fastest growing shopper segment is the Last-Minute Shoppers. This segment accounted for 28% of all holiday spend last year. Unsurprisingly, Last-Minute Shoppers really like to get their gifts online. This segment’s spend with online brick & mortars and online-only retailers increased by 4% and 12%, respectively, from 2015 to 2016.

How to engage Last-Minute Shoppers: Pressed for time, Last-Minute Shoppers are more likely to buy from retailers that make it easy for them to purchase their gifts, fast. Brick & mortars should emphasize extended store hours, as well as expedited online-to-in-store pick up. Online-only retailers should highlight expedited shipping discounts and late shipping guarantees in their marketing campaigns.

Each shopper segment contributes to the overall holiday spend. It’s critical for retailers to execute marketing campaigns that uniquely target each shopper timing segment to generate revenue all season long.