Holiday Shopping Kickoff: Key Insights & Four Immediate Actions for Brands
While marketers and brands have been in the weeds planning for the holiday season for months, consumers have officially kicked off holiday shopping, visiting brick and mortar stores and shopping online on the days in between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, known as Turkey 5, or T5. Despite looming economic uncertainty, shoppers broke records with a reported $9.8 billion in Black Friday sales, according to Adobe Analytics.
A trend that may never go out of style: many consumers were shopping for electronics and big ticket items such as televisions. For Code3 clients, our Search Strategists saw the home and kitchen category account for 50% of ad sales on Black Friday.
While Black Friday and the days following are traditionally the kickoff to the critical Q4 shopping season, Amazon, alongside many brands, launched deals earlier than ever, even going as far as to coin a new “T11” term, referencing 11 days of deals. This may have paid off, as many consumers began shopping earlier than in the past. 60% of Code3 clients running search had a stronger conversion rate and cost per click (CPC) leading into T5 than T5 itself.
One of the strongest category performers during T5 was a somewhat surprising one: grocery. The grocery category, not one that typically participates in deals during tentpole events, was a strong performer, driving a conversion rate above 20%. Significant grocery category sales was also a trend we saw during summer’s Prime Day and Prime Big Deals Day in October. This trend is an indicator that shoppers are not just looking for holiday shopping, but taking advantage of sale prices wherever they can, even for everyday items.
Last year, data indicated many shoppers were waiting for the best deal possible - passing on Black Friday deals in hopes of better pricing on Cyber Monday and beyond. This year, shoppers were ready to pull the trigger ASAP. Code3 Search Strategists saw the highest average order value throughout T11 on Black Friday, indicating consumers were ready to secure their bigger ticket items as soon as deals went live, instead of waiting. Additionally, conversion rates increased 7.5% year over year for Cyber Monday, and while last year conversion rates dropped 4.8% from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, this year we only saw a 3.1% drop.
There may have simply just been better deals earlier this year. For some Code3 clients, cost efficiency was down a bit YoY, despite driving more incremental units. This was because they were more aggressive with deals, meaning a lower average order value ultimately impacted sales volume, despite more actual orders coming through.
Unsurprisingly, competition was fierce during these critical days. Overall Cost per Clicks (CPC) were up slightly, by 2%, when in comparison to 2022. In line with that, conversion rates increased YoY for the time period. However, CPCs were down in comparison to both 2023 Prime Days.
The holiday marathon has just begun, and there is still plenty of time for brands to make an impact during this critical time of year. Brands that are nimble and can react to their successes and failures during T5 still have time to drive sales. Continue the momentum with these four tasks recommended by our Search Strategists:
- Capitalize on T11 Traffic via views remarketing campaigns.This allows brands to continue to re-engage with shoppers who visited your product detail pages, but haven’t converted yet.
- Update and tweak budget allocation across advertised ASIN set accordingly. Make sure to analyze data and results from T11. Good questions to start with are: Did conversion rates seem to favor lower price point items? Did lower priority items surprisingly outperform others? As you assess these budget tweaks, also make sure they stay in line with your primary goals & objectives.
- Ensure your Amazon Storefront and store pages stay updated. Pages may need to have out-of-stock ASINs swapped out and products on deal (and that are available!) should be at the top of pages for premium visibility. As paid traffic drives shoppers to your Amazon Storefront, having this setup being relevant and user-friendly will only help influence positive shopping behavior.
- Don’t spend all of your budget prior to peak holiday! Post-holiday shopping can help brands bring their 2024 results across the finish line. As consumers receive gift cards they will turn to Amazon yet again to continue shopping - and ensuring that you have budget to continue delivering after peak holiday will help capture this traffic and shopping behavior. In the past, Code3 search strategists have seen activity slow down between the 22nd-23rd of December and picking back up right around December 27th.
2023 is coming quickly to a close and the finish line is near! Brands that are adjusting Q4 strategy day-to-day will be sure to finish strong and reap the benefits of their hard work. If you could use a strategic partner for 2024 and beyond, contact us today.
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