Black Friday is written about a lot, but it’s the Christmas period that’s most important for retailers.

The market conditions are tricky this year, of course, particularly for the UK. Research suggests that – due to Brexit uncertainty – consumer confidence is now at its lowest point in a decade. Despite this, CRR predicts that Christmas spending will marginally increase from £79.72bn in 2018 to £80.27bn this year.

So, what can retailers do to ensure the best outlook? Buyer or customer personas are a great tool to use, particularly during key moments in the retail calendar. Naturally, this typically depends on the retail category and an individual brand’s target demographic. But drawing on a few recent stats about how Christmas shopping might shape up this year, here’s a broad overview of potential shopper personas, and tips on how to target them.

The cautious consumer

According to PwC research, we are now in a period of ‘cautious consumption’, largely due to political uncertainty. In 2018, 27% of consumers said they had already changed their spending habits because of Brexit, and 13% said they would further do so during 2019.

PwC suggests that this shift is less about overall spend, but a change in priorities. As a result, categories including ‘Children & Babies’ and ‘Health’ are predicted to see the lowest net spend reductions this year, suggesting that this is where a large percentage of consumers will devote their budget. In contrast, consumers are less likely to spend on big ticket items or events like travel.

For brands, this means being careful with marketing communication. If we’re looking at a parent or someone who is responsible for a family as a buyer persona, it’s worth considering how they might be more likely to respond to messaging that aligns with a sense of necessity rather than luxury.

This type of buyer is also likely to be a long-term planner, engaging throughout the year with brands that have an ‘always-on’ approach as opposed to ‘buy for Christmas’. Google also found that 34% of people say that discovering new products and getting ideas are aspects they enjoy most about shopping, meaning that gift guides can also be an effective form of content.

christmas shopping

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The brand loyalist

The high street saw lacklustre sales in 2018, however, consumers still spent big in the supermarkets. According to Kantar data, UK shoppers spent £450 more on groceries in December 2018 than they did the previous year. Supermarkets posted record sales of £29.3 billion over the Christmas trading period.

The data highlights the importance of generating and building on loyalty in all retail categories. Last December’s grocery growth did not stem from new customers, but rather an additional £9.07 being spent over the month by existing customers.

For retailers looking to ignite loyalty, targeting previous customers can be effective, especially at Christmas time when brand loyalty might be heightened (as opposed to during sales events, when consumers might be more willing to switch or find the best deal).

There are many ways to target previous customers, however, email could be a key channel; recent research found that email is the most effective method for inspiring repeat purchases from a brand.

The last-minute shopper

According to research by Google, only 18% of shoppers consolidate all of their shopping into the Black Friday to Cyber Monday period. The majority, which is 70% of shoppers, buy right up to and during the last week before Christmas.

Google also explains that most of these people use their mobile to search for information about product availability and delivery, as well as opening times and directions for local retailers.

This means that brands and retailers should ensure the right information is provided, so that customers are able to find it in their moment of need.

At the same time, targeting this persona with relevant campaign content – including key info like fast delivery, or highlighting the ‘last minute’ angle – can be effective. It can also be worthwhile targeting abandoned shoppers, i.e. those who might have browsed or added items to a cart but not yet made a purchase.

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The bargain hunter

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Christmas shopping period doesn’t end on Christmas Eve. The Boxing Day sales period in the UK is still a big opportunity for brands to generate further revenue, or help to shift left-over inventory from the previous month.

This means using behavioural targeting to identify shoppers interested in deals and discounts, as well as using category-specific content that appeals to what they’ve previously shown interest in.

Interestingly, Skimlinks also recommends targeting ‘sly shoppers’ – i.e. people who use their smartphones to shop for replacement presents immediately after Christmas (without offending the person who has given it to them). Skimlinks suggests creating content related to subscription boxes or gift cards, which generally appeals to a broad range of shoppers who might be looking to quickly replace an unwanted present.

Lessons from Black Friday – report