Holiday shopping in 2020: here’s what marketers need to know

To say it’s been a tough year would be an understatement. For consumers and brands alike, 2020 has brought about totally unexpected changes to just about every aspect of our lives. 

But here’s the good news: despite everything, and in some form, the holiday season will still happen. 

And for marketers, that means seasonal shopping will also still happen, both for the festive period and in response to annual shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

To help brands prepare for the holiday period, we’ve put together our forecasts for what festive shopping will look like across four major markets. 

US forecast / Canada forecast / UK forecast / Germany forecast

Jump into the regional reports to take a look at the numbers for each region, or read on to discover the trends that we think will affect brands and marketers globally, based all our data on digital marketing trends and combined with a whole host of macroeconomic trends.

1) Online shopping will be the norm

The lockdowns caused by COVID-19 have accelerated the trend towards online shopping. And even though many areas are opening back up again (with various degrees of speed) we expect many online shopping trends picked up during 2020 to last. 

Marketers need to be aware that their digital audience is probably older than it ever has been. Lots of people aged 45 and over have now tried online shopping for the first time, especially for essential items like groceries. This means you need cross-platform strategies for reaching these new digital customers who are now less likely to do bricks-and-mortar buying. 

2) People are starting their shopping earlier

Over the last four years, interest around deals and offers related to the holiday season still peak around the second or third week of November. But, across the globe, we’re seeing more evidence of people starting their shopping in October or even earlier, creating lists, doing research, and looking for early deals. 

This year, with consumers likely to be more mindful of what they’re spending their money on, we expect the shopping process to start even earlier, especially for categories where supply may be an issue. That’s a huge opportunity for marketers to reach consumers early and be part of customers’ consideration set. 

3) Consumer mindsets are likely to be different

Although there’s evidence that consumer confidence is generally bouncing back after the initial COVID spike and subsequent widespread lockdowns, 2020 holiday shoppers are broadly going to have a recession mindset. 

When money is tighter and the future is less than uncertain, consumers will tend to do more research before making a purchase and are less likely to be brand loyal, particularly if they see a competitor who offers more value. 

Clearly, this offers an opportunity for brands who are able to compete on price. But messaging is also important. Marketers should consider messages which promote value, durability and safety, rather than luxury, premium and extravagance, as these are likely to resonate better. 

It’s still the most wonderful time of the year

The holiday shopping period still offers marketers and brands the chance to end what’s been a tough year for everyone on a high. 

In this new normal, the challenge is to understand how shoppers are researching and buying the things that will fill their stockings and pile up under their trees – and then use that knowledge to reach them in the most efficient and effective way.

It’s the kind of challenge we love to help with, so if you’d like to talk through your holiday shopping strategies, get in touch.