It may feel like summer has only just arrived – we’ve barely had a chance to use the BBQ – yet with almost half a million searches for ‘Christmas’ on eBay.co.uk during August last year, marketers need to be ready for keen shoppers setting their sights on the festive season.
At eBay, thanks to the wealth of behavioural data observed from our 19 million monthly users, we have a unique insight into how the UK really shops. And when it comes to Christmas, there are some golden rules that every marketer should take into consideration.
Know your audience
When planning Christmas campaigns, it’s easy to rely heavily upon stereotypes, for example assuming that women have everything bought and wrapped months in advance, whilst men spend Christmas Eve madly dashing out to track down a bottle of that ‘favourite perfume’.
But with so many brands competing for consumers’ attention, it’s never been more important for marketers to really know the wants and needs of their audience. Stereotyping is at best a waste of ad expenditure, but at worst insulting and can quickly alienate potential customers just as much a poorly developed creative.
By using observed data into shoppers’ previous buying habits, marketers can look out for the relevant signals from their customers and react to them at the right time, rather than trying to second guess their next move. Smart marketers can use these insights to identify and target the early shoppers, who will then act as strong brand advocates for those shopping later in the season.
Remember one size does not fit all
Not only is it important to know who your audience is, it’s also crucial to know when they are shopping. Our data shows that whilst searches for Christmas-related items steadily increase from August onwards, the peak windows of opportunity come for different categories at different times.
According to our Christmas Tracker, clothing is often the first thing on shoppers’ minds, with ‘Christmas’ searches in the Clothes, Shoes and Accessories category peaking in early October, providing the earliest and longest window of interest. This is followed by the Toys and Games; Home, Furniture & DIY and Baby categories, all of which see a significant uplift from the start of November through to the middle of December. The peak window for home entertainment brands tends to come much later, with a competitive four-week period in the final run-up as shoppers search for last minute stocking fillers and easy entertainment.
What’s more, Christmas shopping continues right up until the final minutes. Last year we registered 300,000 searches for ‘Christmas’ on eBay.co.uk in the final week of the countdown, showing that brands need to ring fence and defer some budget to see them to the very end of the season.
Target dependent on the mood
Finally, don’t overlook the influence of external factors, such as the weather. In spite of the date, if it’s cold and wintery outside consumers are much more likely to start thinking about Christmas than if it’s a warm, balmy evening.
Last August, with thunderstorms dominating the Bank Holiday weekend, searches for ‘Christmas’ shot up by 70 per cent from the previous month; and searches for ‘Christmas tree’ specifically leapt by an enormous 300 per cent.
So, for marketers looking to maximise their Christmas campaigns this year, remember to speak to the right people, at the right time, in the right place, whilst retaining a certain degree of flexibility to react to the unexpected.