2021 Holiday Shopping Trends + Stats

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year – prediction season! How will consumers shop this year? Just how overwhelmingly powerful is eCommerce in the second pandemic holiday season? We have those insights and more, all wrapped up and ready to be opened below.  

Spoiler alert: It’s all online.  

Since hitting record highs in 2020 (you may recall: Online U.S. consumer spending was up 32.4% YOY, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce), online shopping has remained elevated. According to Adobe Digital Insights 2021, recent months have seen the highest spread in growth. This year, September and August’s annual growth (22%) is exactly double last year’s rate of growth (11%).  Based on this insight, analysts are projecting that holiday shopping will hit an all-time record high of $200B (source: Adobe Digital Insights 2021: Adobe Holiday Shopping Forecast).    

Ecommerce levels the playing field a bit and widens the competitive landscape by providing consumers with a wide range of options on where to spend their holiday dollars. For marketers, this means that getting the most out of holiday shopping is more than just having products available online – you need to make sure your target audience chooses you.   

Stay on Top of Trends and Expectations this Holiday Season 

With the fast pace of today’s consumer expectations, it can be tough to stay on top of what works. Here are a few stocking stuffers that can help. 

Capture the Holiday Spirit 

This time of year, sentimentality and emotions typically run high. Effective messaging that hits at the heart of customers is the key to a successful holiday season. 

  • Create content that captures the essence of the holidays and draws on the emotional themes of the season: family, tradition, giving, and warmth.  
  • Brands can’t get away with just talking the talk anymore, they have to walk the walk too. Consider implementing campaigns that include charitable matching for shopping.  
  • Audiences ages 18-24 are 53% and ages 25-35 are 32% more likely to do business with companies that donate to charities. (Source: Resonate)  

Stay In Touch – the Right Way 

During such a fast-paced, frenzied time of year, having the proper CRM strategy can make all the difference. This helps you stay in touch with your audience while also building brand trust. Here are a few ways you can do that:  

  • Tap into your loyal customer base. Audiences aged 45-54 are 10% more likely and audiences aged 55-64 are 14% more likely to shop at retailers that have points or a loyalty program. 
  • Be mindful of the current state of the supply chain – many products and hot ticket items are taking longer to ship or are out of stock entirely. 
  • Offer perks like early access or exclusive product purchase to customers who are on your email list or part of your loyalty program. This helps them make sure they can get what they want on time.  
  • During the holidays, every email inbox is too full to organize, so communicate in ways beyond email.  
  • Shift to mobile offers and notifications  
  • Audiences aged 18-44 are spending nearly the same amount of time-consuming content on a smart TV as they are on mobile, expanding the opportunity to message via mobile and shop in the moment. 

The Gift of Content 

A strong social content program is the key to standing out in a saturated market. With our always digital lifestyles, making an impact online is an absolute must.  

  • Social media is even more important than ever before for holiday shopping.  
  • 66% of weekly Facebook users surveyed in the U.S. who discover new brands or products online typically do so via a Facebook platform (Source: Facebook Discovery Commerce).  
  • ’Tis the season for disruptive content. 
  • Many companies have holiday ads that are anticipated year-round by their audiences. Start a new tradition of creating moving, breathtaking content each holiday season.  
  • “Disruptive” doesn’t have to be complicated. It can look like a UGC campaign, hopping onto TikTok or Instagram Reels trends, or simply strong community engagement. 
  • Leverage higher-level engaging content like animation, videos, and gifs to break through the avalanche of ads. 
  • When it comes to holiday marketing, it takes more than sales. Consumers expect ads to be works of art, since that’s what they’re used to around this time of year.  
  • The holiday season is the biggest time of year for shopping – make sure you’re investing in your marketing with the same intensity people bring to shopping in the run-up to the holidays.  

Need some help to get your programs on the year-end roundup of best holiday marketing? Send us a message and we’ll be happy to chat with you.  

Dwenya Pouncy is the Director of Strategy at DEFINITION 6. She brings over 15 years of experience in connecting brands with consumers. Her ideas and approaches have led to double- and triple-digit increases for brands like Kylie Jenner Skin Care, GameStop, Victoria’s Secret, Levi Strauss, JCPenney and more.

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