They say December is the most wonderful time of the year, and for retailers, it often can be. However, it is also the most hectic time of year, and retailers spend months after the Christmas shopping rush sorting through scads of data to measure the success of their holiday efforts. While analysts study data, such as product categories, price points, and inventory, there is one critical data point they frequently overlook – despite that it could have a significant impact on the numbers in 2015.
The Data Point – And The Profits – Retailers Miss
What is the data point that so many retailers forget to examine?
In November and December it is not uncommon for 5 -15% of a customer base to include holiday-only shoppers. These customers may shop loyally, visiting the retailer each and every Christmas season. For example, there are people who purchase baskets from Harry and David religiously year in and year out – exclusively in November and December. If retailers could study those holiday shoppers and get just one percent of them to come back outside of the holidays, it could mean significant gains for the year.
How To Identify And Target Holiday Shoppers
Holiday-only shoppers are often “invisible” when it comes to pre-holiday marketing efforts. When planning their Christmas communications, marketers typically pull together their lists of customers from the fall and summer time. Ironically, this usually does not include those loyal holiday customers from the equation completely, excluding them from deals and offers they may find quite valuable. Instead of using recent customer data exclusively to create holiday mailing lists, retailers should include holiday shoppers from the previous season.
In fact, retailers should take that process one step further and tailor offers to the holiday-only shoppers they have identified. For example, female shoppers who purchase men’s clothing during the holiday season are likely buying those clothes as a gift for a spouse, friend, or family member. It is unlikely that a retailer could convert those women into year-round menswear shoppers. However, if retailers studied those customers’ data, they will gain insights to create well-timed and rich offers to send those customers that capitalizes on their needs; what’s more, the right offer could entice those shoppers to expand their lists and increase their spending.
Tailor Communications To The Holiday Crowd
Retailers tend to communicate with holiday shoppers one of two ways: they either lump holiday shoppers with year-round customers, or they ignore this cohort completely. Neither of these approaches effectively taps in to the holiday shopper’s potential.
Regular customers have come to expect communications from their favorite stores, but holiday shoppers may not pay attention to those communications. The women who purchased menswear as gifts are simply not going interested in a barrage of weekly emails about sport coats. But neither does ignoring those customers work. Staying in touch is important, and providing offers that match the needs of those customers is essential. A well-timed, rich offer sent out to those women before other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day or Father’s Day could be just enough to convert them from a holiday-only shopper to a repeat customer.
The trick is to understand holiday customers’ shopping habits and what makes them tick— why they choose a particular retailer each year, whom they shop for, how much they spend, products they buy repeatedly, et cetera and use that information to communicate with them in a targeted manner.
Understand Holiday Shoppers To Convert Them Into Year-Round Customers
Holiday shoppers are essential for success. As 5-15% of the holiday base, they help drive year-end sales and often make the difference between a good year and a bad year. However, they can do so much more. By identifying holiday-only customers, understanding their motives, and creating communications and offers tailored to them, retailers can convert those once-a-year shoppers into repeat customers.