Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Tech-Fueled Retail: In-Store and Online

Over the
past few weeks, the Stylus Life team has been tracking the latest
innovations in retail tech ‘ the online tools making shopping seamless, and the
in-store tech that will encourage customers to head back to the high street.
Retailers
are always seeking new ways to entice customers and encourage loyalty, particularly
looking to create convenient purchase journeys that fit around shopping habits.
This strategy is seen through Mr Porter’s recent partnership with Apple TV. A first for luxury content-commerce
mergers, the collaboration sees the e-tailer monetise its editorial video
content, letting shoppers buy directly through their TV.
Similarly, Instagram recently announced it would soon start
testing retail tools that enable users to buy items found in their image feed ‘
a move that will help both brands and tastemakers to drive revenue through the
platform. The new feature, kicking off in the US with twenty retailers, ties in
with recent stats showing that consumers increasingly shop via their mobile
devices.
The consumer
desire for convenience and curation is also highlighted in recent research that discovered 43% of US consumers are
likely to do their holiday shopping via online marketplaces such as eBay or
Amazon, compared to just 15% purchasing via an individual retailer’s website. This
dramatic difference is due to marketplaces’ ability to offer shoppers a simpler
experience, with a wider variety of products at the best prices ‘ all in one
place.
So if
shopping online is easier, what will send customers back to the store? Well, a recent survey has found that 63% of UK shoppers still
prefer the high street, but are more likely to be enticed by tech-fuelled
retail spaces. The convenience of contactless and mobile payments was described
by some as ‘life-changing’. Meanwhile, shoppers are more likely to visit stores
with technology such as virtual reality (57%) or smart fitting rooms (57%), which
provide experiences that can’t be replicated at home or online.
Tesco is
capitalising on this consumer desire for technology, trialling digital receipts that offer shoppers personalised offers,
while also taking another step towards paperless transactions. The trial,
running through November, aims to give customers more choice. Beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury has placed digital interaction at the centre
of its new store, using virtual mirrors to help shoppers select their perfect
look, and in-store screens to showcase social media inspiration.
Brought to you by Stylus Life, creativity and innovation news from around the web.

Marketers Adapt to Digital Customer Trends for Holiday Shopping Season

Over the last few years, technology has truly revolutionized retail. Black Friday and the holiday season exemplify that change better than any other time of year. Now, marketers must reassess their strategies as consumers spend increasing amounts online ahead of the shopping weekend in order to capture the online shopping trend.
As of late, Black Friday and Cyber Monday  have experienced a change in spending patterns, with the Adobe Digital Index predicting that $2.6bn ‘ an increase of 15 percent ‘ will be spent on Cyber Monday alone, with Black Friday growth up by 28 percent to $2.48bn. The holiday season in the U.S. will aim to break online records for e-commerce spend at $72.41bn, a growth of 16.6 percent in the last year, according to eMarketer.
Luke Edson, senior vice president national markets at YP, recently told The Drum that businesses have had to realize the need to focus on the growth of consumers turning to their mobile devices when researching products before making a purchase. ‘Consumers are also connecting to businesses through mobile apps for everything from getting directions to finding a deal. Mobile has the unique ability to target customers in the moment and drive their behavior. What’s more mobile location data can provide key insights on a consumer’s behavioral patterns, including someone’s likes, lifestyle and habits,” he said.  
Customers spend more time online and it is becoming a place where shopping decisions can be influenced. “We know that we need to engage across multiple channels. This holiday season we have increased our focus on social and digital media, including creating an online only holiday gift guide, multiple social sweepstakes across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, creating video content specifically for YouTube, and pushing content on Pinterest for the first time,’ Brandi Ply, director of marketing strategy at online retailer, Big Lots told The Drum.
Only five years ago mobile marketing and mobile sales for Black Friday did not exist- Black Friday was only about hitting the stores to get the best deals. Now, it seems that it’s more important for marketers to get their best deals on Thanksgiving Day online and through mobile marketing. Even Black Friday is now as much about online as it is about in-store sales.

‘Black Friday is a double-edged sword for most digital marketers. We know consumer engagement is going to be unusually high so it’s an ideal time to try and capture their attention, but we also know that all marketers are having the exact same thought so it can be difficult to stand out in such a crowded space,” said advertising technology company Spongecell chief executive, Ben Kartzman.  “This year, smart digital marketers will focus on delivering a dynamic experience for shoppers that they haven’t necessarily seen before.’

Is America Breaking Up with Thanksgiving?

Several major retailers made a splash in the news this year
with their plans to kick off the Holiday shopping season early ‘ by opening for
business on Thanksgiving Day.  Many of
the pundits reacted by insisting that retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Best
Buy, JCPenney and Macy’s are ‘stealing’ Thanksgiving by opening as early as 6
p.m.  However, we’ve got evidence that
the idea of Thanksgiving ‘ at least as a sacred 12-hour stretch of family,
carbs and football ‘ is waning among key consumer groups.
This initiative on the part of retailers can be seen in one
light as just one more facet of the changing cultural landscape.  Thanksgiving was historically a combination
of religious feelings (giving thanks), extended family gatherings; and major
multicourse meals.  As a society, we’ve become
more secular, our family size has shrunk, and we are much more likely to be
eating our meals on the fly. All of these forces of social change diminish the
fit of the Thanksgiving holiday with the way that we live today.
To find out more about how people actually feel about
Thanksgiving in general as well as their reactions to retailers’ new plans to
open their doors on the holiday, we conducted research and found some
surprising results.
First, our findings suggests that Americans do feel
differently about Thanksgiving, compared to years past.  We found a significant decrease in the number
of people who expect to feel a sense of nurturance and connection to others
over the holiday. When people focused on how they expect to feel this Thanksgiving,
the strength of expectations for these emotions was reduced by as much as 20%
compared to past Thanksgivings   We also saw
a very marked increase in people who expected that they might feel somewhat
isolated and disengaged on Thanksgiving.
I suspect it’s not that Americans don’t have the same
emotional yearnings to feel connected to their loved ones and to enjoy family
time.  It’s just that the secularization
of our lifestyles, the atomization of our household structures, and the
mobilization of our eating styles all militate against this holiday.
The Risk Retailers Take
So what about doing business on Thanksgiving?  We also asked consumers how they felt about
stores opening so much earlier on Thanksgiving, and their perception of stores
who might adopt this practice.  Here the
results are strikingly polarized.
About 15 percent of the respondents don’t just like the idea
of stores opening earlier, they love it, and they definitely plan to go
shopping. These respondents were generally avid shoppers, most of whom (82
percent) say they were already committed to shopping on Black Friday, and three
quarters of these consumers say they plan to show up at stores before they
open.  The prospect of stores opening on
Thanksgiving makes these people feel good. They get a sense that the stores
understand and care about their needs as harried bargain hunters, and they feel
empowered by these new store policies. Finally, they are thinking, a retail
brand understands how important it is for me to save money and finish my
holiday shopping effectively.     
On the other hand, two thirds of respondents appear to
loathe the idea of early openings. They state that they ‘definitely will not
shop’ on Thanksgiving.  
It makes them feel unhappy and disengaged, even defeated.
They feel as if these stores and the culture are working against them,
thwarting their desire to make the holiday special and meaningful for
themselves and their families.
So — retailers are rolling the dice. Are they better off
opening early? Will they increase sales to those who would have already shopped
on Black Friday?  Will the intensified
emotional connection among these shopping enthusiasts translate to better brand
connection throughout the holidays ‘ or will retailers simply spread the early
spending of this group over two days? Only the sales records of the season will
tell.
The potential downside is that retailers may sour their
brand connection with the much larger audience. And that’s a big risk: These
people didn’t just have no emotion about Thanksgiving openings, they had very
strong negative emotions. Will it be enough to turn them against certain store
brands? Some stores seem to think so: Both Nordstrom and Costco, for example,
have held fast to their refusal to open on Thursday.
Most likely, stores will make the call based on their own
assumptions about core customers.
In the end, however our culture is changing, it’s important
to realize that we love our families as much as we ever did, whether we are inclined
or capable of gathering the clan together in one large group. Thanks to the
scattering of American families, that reunion moment seems to be getting harder
and harder to pull off.
We fulfill our need for connectedness in other ways. Chalk
some of it up to Facebook and other social media, which allows us to connect to
distant relations in ways we hadn’t before. Getting together has new forms. Who
knows? Maybe we are closer to finding a virtual Thanksgiving.
Whether you head off to Wal-Mart or not, have a great Thanksgiving
holiday!

David Forbes holds a Ph.D. in clinical and cognitive
psychology from Clark University, and was a member of the faculties of Harvard
Medical School Department of Psychiatry and the Harvard Laboratory of Human
Development before beginning his career as a business consultant. Dr. Forbes
founded Forbes Consulting over 20 years ago as a strategic market research
consultancy dedicated to creating business advantage through deep psychological
consumer insights. Since that time, he has built Forbes into a major resource
for scores of major corporations in the CPG, Financial Services, and Pharmaceuticals
industries, domestically and internationally.