With the holiday season upon us, shoppers are gearing up with their lists, but make no mistake, shopping has changed for good this time around.
Last year’s emerging trends have now become preferred shopping habits and behaviours in 2021. Ecommerce, for example, skyrocketed in Asia in 2020 as buyers shook off COVID fatigue. And if this year is any indication, shoppers in the region have been bitten by the online bug for the long haul, as online sales continue to soar.
In 2021, consumers continue to be always-on, which means brands will have to double down on innovating their digital offerings to provide customers with a richer online shopping experience.
This season, advertisers need to think out of the box with holiday shoppers feeling more adventurous; 60% say they want to try new brands and new stores, according to a recent Yahoo global study on holiday shopper attitudes. Meanwhile, 57% of shoppers said that they aren’t tied to their usual brands anymore.
As brands gear up for a unique holiday season, it is essential to provide equally distinctive offerings and up the ante on consumer experiences. Here are ways to get started.
Leverage XR and interactive experiences
Our research globally shows 63% of shoppers are more likely to pay attention to a product when presented in an innovative way. Consumers have acclimatised to a predominantly online landscape, finding greater ease in using technology and digital tools—they now have the confidence and desire to experiment with new formats and are more than ready for an enhanced online shopping experience.
Think augmented reality try-before-you-buy experiences, where shoppers can virtually try on apparel and makeup, or visualise furniture within their physical space. Over 80% of shoppers said that they would like to see 360-degree views of products before buying, as consumers try their best to approximate bricks-and-mortar shopping.
While shoppers might still crave the rush of shopping in person, it is clear that they enjoy the convenience of ecommerce. When we surveyed consumers, 75% said they wanted to discover new products by window-shopping at virtual storefronts. A great example of this: Verizon’s 5G Holiday Market has an AR mobile experience for consumers to ‘step into’ a holiday-themed Verizon store where they can interact with phones, watches, and speakers that provide a direct path to purchase on Verizon’s website.
The proof is in the pudding; our work with clients has shown that immersive 3D and AR ads drove 2.5 times higher shopper engagement, with interactivity enriching consumers’ online shopping experiences.
Drive great deals and bargains
If you think the revenge shopper is no longer concerned with driving a hard bargain, think again. Deals still matter, especially during the holidays: 83% of shoppers believe finding deals and budgeting are important this holiday season, while 57% said they are loyal to brands that offer the biggest discounts. Here’s an interesting detail: 62% believe that the biggest bargains are found online. Leverage this by offering eye-catching discounts online and presenting them in a unique and interactive way. Consider employing formats such as countdown timers that will help introduce a sense of urgency to promotional campaigns.
With every brand running its holiday promotional campaign, brands need to make their deals discoverable. Shoppable content, such as interactive gift guides or a shoppable poll/quiz, can help bridge the gap between discovery and purchase—pushing consumers from awareness to consideration.
Make online experiences feel personal
Smart and personalised experiences captivate consumers and add an intimate touch. Personalised ads also shorten the path to purchase—Yahoo recorded a whopping 92% higher conversion from personalised ads over non-personalised native image ads.
Buyers, even younger ones, aren’t necessarily ad-averse when it serves their personal needs. 60% of shoppers aged 18 to 34 say personalised ads help them make shopping decisions, while 40% have utilised personalised ad recommendations.
Equally, personalised ads enable brands to talk to consumers, not at them, empowering them to make purchase decisions that benefit them and provide value. These can be dynamic product ads that allow relevant ads based on a user's interest, or re-engage high intent audiences such as ‘cart abandoners’—nothing like letting people know that the products they want are on a deep discount! Brands can also leverage the power of programmatic with dynamic creative, which is automatically updated based on users' online habits.
Think beyond the screen
Offering interactive experiences that are different from the usual on-screen pitches can help facilitate purchases and draw in consumers.
Omnichannel screens and presence can influence and reach new shoppers especially for holiday shopping: 35% found shopping inspiration through formats like outdoor ads, interactive ads or podcasts.
Shoppable QR codes on DOOH can provide strokes of inspiration to the passive viewer, as well as provide a shorter path to checkout. Cleverly utilising DOOH platforms can allow a brand to connect with viewers at the right time — when they’re in shopping mode and in the mood to purchase, while also closing the loop through mobile ads then and there.
2021’s year-end season will see emerging shopper trends from last year become today’s habits. By delivering unique and rich experiences that maximise the online landscape, exciting possibilities and gains are in store for brands.
Iván Markman is Yahoo's global chief business officer.