Reaching Holiday Shoppers

As the holiday season quickly approaches, shoppers are starting to think about holiday plans and gift giving. Inmar Intelligence found consumers are still hopeful that 2021’s celebrations will look more normal than last year, but 49% of consumers surveyed still anticipate their plans will be impacted by COVID.[i] But, no worries, forecasters at eMarketer predict positive holiday retail sales in the US this season.[ii]


Reaching holiday shoppers this year will not be a simple task as many consumer trends and shopping behaviors observed in 2020 will reappear this year. Given that there is still time for trends to evolve and pandemic fears to rise, marketers will have to cut through confusion and reach shoppers where they are, whether it is at home, on the way to the store, in the store or post-store. In order to effectively reach shoppers this year, marketers need to understand three key attributes of the shopping season.[iii]

#1 When Are Shoppers Making Holiday Purchases?

In a recent consumer survey, Inmar Intelligence found most shoppers are prepared for planned purchases. Almost 25% of shoppers make holiday purchases year-round, while 77% of shoppers make purchases between October and December.

However, 91% of holiday shoppers will still make last-minute purchases—ranging from gift cards and gifts for friends and family, to entertaining staples like alcoholic beverages. This means opportunities to approach and attract holiday shoppers are nearly limitless.

#2 Where are Holiday Purchases Happening? 

The 2020 pandemic, coupled with the ever-evolving technologies, led to massive online and hybrid shopping growth. Marketers can expect the trend to continue this year, as consumers look to combine digital and physical shopping with whatever new tools they can find.

Shopping methods are different depending on the product category. When asked for their preference for purchasing online or in-store, consumers responded that they are planning to buy these products in the following ways:

People shop based on specific assumptions about the various channels. For example, when consumers were asked to describe the features they associate with online shopper vs.  in-store shopping to online shopping, 49% said they consider in-store shopping more convenient, but 57% felt they get better prices when shopping online.

#3 How Much are Holiday Shoppers Spending? 

Despite economic uncertainty, holiday shopping is not going away anytime soon. Consumers still have long lists of holiday purchases they want to make—gifts for friends and family, ingredients for cocktails and recipes, and of course, holiday decor essentials.

While a large portion of holiday spending is committed to gift-giving, a significant amount is set aside for hosting and attending holiday gatherings. Holidays can expensive. All the food, beverages, decorations, and other essentials can add up. Inmar Intelligence the majority of shoppers plan to spend between $100 and $300 on holiday meal items.

Going into this holiday shopping season, marketers need to have a solid understanding of 2021 holiday shoppers, and a plan to reach them, wherever they are.  Shoppers have to balance the joy of gathering with friends and family with the stress of planning and paying for holiday activities. As a result, marketers need to provide solutions to make holiday shopping cost effective,  simpler, and more convenient.

Understanding 2021 Holiday Shoppers and leveraging a data-backed strategy is key to reaching consumers. Inmar Intelligence identified five ways marketers can make an impact this holiday season[iv]:

Reach the digital shopper with Personalization.

  • You need to reach The Digital Shopper with the right message, through the right channel, at the right time.
  • Shoppers making their holiday purchases online or through social channels are more likely to respond to personalized offers and custom-crafted content that provides unique value.

Create a memorable experience for the in-store shoppers.

  • Research shows that physically holding products results in psychological ownership, which motivates desire and purchase decisions.
  • The In-Store Shopper prefers to make events out of errands. Add enjoyment to shopping occasions with exciting in-store signage, hands-on opportunities, and personalized engagement.

Convert the Sale Hunter into a brand loyalist with the right offer.

  • While The Sale Hunter has been known to routinely switch brands and retailers to find the right price, there is still a way for marketers to earn their loyalty.
  • You can earn the loyalty of The Sale Hunter by consistently providing value throughout the holiday season.

Market Entertaining Simple for the host.

  • “Convenient” and “easy” are trending keywords in relation to holiday hosting, and you can earn a place on The Host’s nice list by making their holiday celebrations simpler. These shoppers are looking for solutions that easily guide them through their holiday stock-up shopping trips, help them discover something new, and alleviate entertaining stressors.

The Gifter is Going Sustainable This Year.

  • Gen Z has made thrifting and finding unique items cool again, and 18% of consumers are planning to spend less on gifts this year. As a result, “DIY,” “handmade,” and “sustainably-sourced” are all top searches and topics when consumers are evaluating what items make it onto their holiday gift list.

Finally, reaching shoppers where they are takes a clear understanding of the shopper, their needs state, the category, along with the channel they are shopping. By understanding the shopper, marketers can reach them with the best solution for a given situation. At the end of the day, shoppers want convenient, economical solutions to life events.  What matters most to them is spending time with friends and family creating memories.



[i] Retail Dive. Three Keys to Reaching Holiday Shopper this Year.
[ii] eMarketer Insider Intelligence. How retailers can start planning for the 2021 holiday season.
[iii] Capital Computer Group. Three Keys to Reaching Holiday Shoppers This Year.
[iv] Inmar Intelligence. 5 Ways to Get on Holiday Shopper’s “Nice List”.