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How Google is Helping Marketers Navigate Shifting Shopping Behaviors

Marketing

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From preparing for an extended shopping period to addressing the purpose-driven consumer, bookmark these behaviors as you shape your holiday strategy.

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The 2020 holiday season will undoubtedly look a little different this year, but one thing that is unchanged: it is still a time of peak demand and a critical time to connect with consumers. With just under 70 days until Christmas, brands are scaling their efforts as best they can and learning along the way as they reinvent and maximize opportunities.

In support of this, Google launched a 27-page guide on evolving shopping patterns and how to prepare for them including some case studies brands can emulate in their own approach. Here’s an overview of some of the key trends extracted from the findings.

Extended period of shopping and deal-hunting

COVID-19 has led to an increase in shoppers looking for value in terms of quality and price. More specifically, 62 percent of U.S, shoppers are planning to start holiday shopping earlier this year to avoid missing out on items. “This means retailers will need to rethink the usual timelines for Cyber Monday and Cyber Week to help shoppers already looking for special offers and deals this October,” says Google. In short, it isn’t only about peak days anymore.

A growing number of people are recognizing the efficiency and other benefits of ordering online. While deal-seeking certainly isn’t a new concept, the emphasis on value and quality are higher than ever as people turn to their devices to research, browse, and purchase. In fact, searches for “best affordable” are up 60 percent year-over-year and just under half (46%) expect brands to offer discounts.

The takeaway to note from these shifts in behavior: Maximize the exposure of your sales and holiday deals. The report points to a case study from handbag company Dagne Dover who delivered 4X return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) over two months using Google Smart shopping campaigns.

Preparing for a surge in first-time online shoppers

A whopping 69 percent of U.S. shoppers are planning to shop online for the holidays more than they have in previous years. Further, over 50 percent of surveyed US shoppers tried a new shopping service for the first time this year and more than one in ten surveyed reported trying a new shopping app for the first time.

“Due to this overall trend toward online shopping this year, retailers will need to be ready to offer helpful, frictionless shopping experiences for more first-time online shoppers,” the report states. This is critical as stores shift to mere transaction points while the majority of the decision making happens online whether the item will be picked up in store, at the curb, or delivered to someone’s home.

Simplicity, streamlined, and speed are key terms in this vein to keep in mind. Accuracy is another important element where ensuring relevant search terms and fully complete online listings are a make or break in the eyes of today’s shoppers. If you’re in need of fresh ways to enhance your online shopping experience, Google suggests checking out Grow My Store and testing your mobile site speed with Test My Site. Petco, for example, upped investment in Search, Shopping, and local inventory ads and saw a 100 percent lift in their e-commerce business, along with a 10x increase in new e-commerce customers.

The purpose-driven consumer

With more choices around brands and products than ever before, people are taking a beat and identifying ways to use their purchasing power for good. 2020 has been a testament to the various ways consumers can align their purchase decisions with companies with shared values and support local causes that are important to them.

Roughly half (46%) of surveyed U.S. shoppers “make a deliberate effort to shop at businesses that align with my values.” What’s more — 66 percent of U.S. consumers who plan to shop this holiday season said they will shop more at local small businesses. During an age of social distancing, consumers crave a sense of community and preserving local shops and cafes is one way to maintain a sense of normalcy and empowerment amid the uncertainty. Just since last year searches for “support local businesses” grew by over 20,000 percent.

Google also notes that many shoppers are trying new brands for the first time. Specifically, over 70 percent of viewers say YouTube makes them more aware of new brands. Sportswear brand Ariat took these insights and launched YouTube TrueView in-stream ads and increased investment in Shopping ads to help drive online sales and engagement with its customers in new ways. The result? A 700 percent lift in sales year-over-year and a 300 percent boost in online conversions year-over-year.

This isn’t to say all shoppers are testing the waters — some will prefer what’s already familiar to them. Regardless if you’re engaging with new or repeat customers, actionable formats will be differentiators this holiday season. To best prepare, embrace these tough questions including what do we stand for and how do we leverage social media appropriately to serve our customers and community. Your consumers will reciprocate the mindfulness and authenticity with loyalty and trust.

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