The 2023 holiday season is shaping up to be as dynamic and turbulent as the past few have been. But knowing what to expect and proper planning can help make the best of another tough holiday season.
Here are our predictions for 12 trends to account for in your holiday campaign planning process:
1. Shopper Anxiety & Uncertainty
Consumers have plenty to be worried about, including the highest interest rates in more than 20 years, a highly polarized political landscape, the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine, and increasingly frequent extreme weather events. All of this has consumer sentiment clocking in near 10-year lows.
2. Consumer Financials Weakening
Consumer balance sheets are concerning going into the holiday season. That’s because pandemic-era savings have dwindled and their credit card debt has soared well above pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, the interest rates for credit cards, mortgages, and all other consumer loans are up considerably since last year. This has led to falling real year-over-year consumer spending, with back-to-school sales forecast by Deloitte to decline 10% this year.
Stay aligned with consumers by exploring these 3 Messaging Opportunities during Recessions.
3. In-Store Shopping Evolving
After rebounding from the depths of the pandemic, in-store shopping has slumped again. This holiday season, online sales are projected by eMarketer to grow four times faster than brick-and-mortar sales. The return to this long-term has retailers adapting how they use their stores.
4. Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection Hits 2-Year Anniversary
Launched on Sept. 20, 2021, Mail Privacy Protection has obscured open signals, generalized location data, blocked device information, and much more. It has made it difficult for marketers to determine which subscribers are engaged and therefore safe to mail. That task will become even more challenging as we pass the 2-year anniversary of MPP’s launch.
For our most comprehensive advice, get our Definitive Guide to Adapting to Mail Privacy Protection with a free, no-form download.
5. Apple’s Link Tracking Protection Debuts
Being introduced along with Safari 17.0 this fall, Link Tracking Protection removes a number of tracking query parameters that are used for tracking ad engagement as well as email engagement on some digital marketing platforms. Redirected email links are unaffected, except in the rare instances where a subscriber is using Safari Safe Browsing. Currently, Oracle Responsys and Oracle Eloqua users are completely unaffected by LTP, but brands using some other platforms will see their click tracking degraded this holiday season.
6. Holiday Season Starts in October
While people moan and groan about how early the holiday season starts, most consumers are quite interested in buying in October (and even earlier). Pandemic-related shortages and delivery delays have only reinforced early gift buying, which allows shoppers to not only lockdown hard-to-find gifts but also spread their holiday budget over several months. According to the National Retail Federation, 60% of consumers started their holiday shopping before November last year.
For detailed advice on holiday campaign planning, get our Third Quarter 2023 Holiday Marketing Quarterly with a free, no-form download.
7. Veterans Day Is in Play This Year
With no federal elections this year, Veterans Day will be important in the ramp-up of holiday messaging again. Midterms and, especially, presidential elections have disrupted holiday campaigns in the past. For example, roughly one-third of retailers’ email campaigns were canceled or paused in the wake of the contested 2020 presidential election, according to Oracle Marketing Consulting data. With far less drama likely this year, brands can move confidently forward with their holiday campaigns.
8. Sprawl of Marquee Shopping Days
While Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are still among the highest revenue per email days of the year, activity around these days is increasingly dispersing to surrounding days. This change is changing how consumers respond to campaigns, and how marketers craft and measure them.
9. More Last-Minute Shopping Options
Retailers now have many more fulfillment options during the last week of the holidays, including in-store shopping, gift cards, e-gift cards, buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, and same-day delivery. Promoting these options has allowed retailers to significantly boost email marketing result during the week before Christmas.
10. Leveraging New Tech Capabilities
Since last holiday season, you’ve likely added some new capabilities to your martech stack, whether it’s a customer data platform, generative AI, advanced performance analytics, or something else. Make sure that you’re leveraging these new tools this holiday season.
11. Measuring More Holistically
Whether it’s because of new privacy protections like MPP or the increasingly omnichannel browsing and shopping behaviors of consumers, it’s increasingly clear that single-touch attributions and narrow performance windows distort the behavior of our customers rather than help understand it. Our measurement tactics need to evolve along with our customers.
Explore multi-touch attribution models that are more in line with consumer behaviors.
12. Hard Landing vs. Soft Landing
The Federal Reserve is trying to find the sweet spot for getting back to 2% inflation without causing a deep recession. It’s on track to achieve that, but with further rate hikes promised and a long lag in the effect of past hikes, a lot can go wrong before the holiday season is done.
Want our advice on how to respond to those trends?
We discuss all of those trends in more detail in our companion on-demand webinar on holiday trends, along with advice on how to respond to each of our 12 trends.
We hope you enjoyed “12 Trends a-Trending: What to Plan For This Holiday Season.” Some of our other on-demand webinars include:
Need help with holiday planning? Oracle Marketing Consulting has more than 500 of the leading marketing minds ready to help you to achieve more with the leading marketing cloud, including an Analytic & Strategic Services team that can help you identify strategic opportunities hidden in your data.
Clint Kaiser is the Head of the Analytic & Strategic Services team at Oracle Marketing Consulting. His background in the email marketing space includes 20 years of experience with ESPs and digital agencies. His analytical approach to driving change in digital marketing is reflected in his quantitative approach to improving clients' business outcomes.
Kaiti (Livermore) Gary is a Senior Director on the Analytic & Strategic Services team at Oracle Marketing Consulting. Her background includes over 16 years of client and agency consulting experience in the in a variety of marketing capacities including product management, customer experience and digital marketing. Given her diverse background, she excels in the development of holistic and innovative marketing solutions that balance strategy, technology and operational needs.
JT Capps is Strategic Director of Analytic & Strategic Services at Oracle Marketing Consulting. His background includes over 20 years of experience in digital marketing strategy, integration, execution, and advanced analytics with brands and digital agencies. Levering that experience, JT directs high-impact, data-driven marketing solutions across customer acquisition, conversion, loyalty, and retention/upsell across all industry verticals.
Chad S. White is the Head of Research at Oracle Marketing Consulting and the author of four editions of Email Marketing Rules and nearly 4,000 posts about digital and email marketing. A former journalist, he’s been featured in more than 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Advertising Age. Chad was named the ANA's 2018 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year. Follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon.