The holidays are almost here, leaving consumers with only a week to find the perfect gift for each person on their list. Finding a parking spot at a mall can be a daunting task, and the lines at department stores are long, but packages are also steadily arriving on doorsteps from online purchases. And the coupons, emails and catalogs keep crowding our inbox and mailbox. So, what is most effective in getting consumers’ attention this holiday season?
Elea Feit, PhD, assistant professor of marketing at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, has focused her research on leveraging customer data to make better product design and advertising decisions. Below, she talks about about shopping trends for the 2017 holiday season.
What trends are we seeing this holiday season? Will more people be shopping online or in stores?
Online shopping has been trending up for more than a decade now, but the lion’s share of retail is still in stores. Retailers are also getting creative with how they combine channels to produce a great experience for their customers.
Are catalogs that are mailed and include coupons more effective in getting consumers to buy a product, or do emails work better?
I’ve done some research on this with a specialty retailer focused on their most-loyal customers. We found that catalogs were more effective — and effective for longer — than email. You tend to toss the catalog on the coffee table or the bedside table, and seeing it again when you go to toss it out can be an important reminder for the brand. Whether you end up making a trip to the store or not, that catalog still had an effect on you. Of course, sending a catalog to someone who doesn’t care about your products or brand probably won’t do much good at all.
Is there any difference in what is more effective for those with a certain gift in mind versus those who are undecided and end up with an impulse buy?
Traditionally, impulse buys were strictly an in-store phenomena, but today’s online retailers are really trying to crack into the impulse market. One important application of artificial intelligence and big data is recommendation systems (information filtering systems that seek to predict the rating or preference of a user for an item). These algorithms will automatically target products to you throughout your online shopping experience. As online retailers start to refine these systems, we may see more and more impulse purchases online.
Is there a difference in how men and women react to advertising?
Surprisingly, there isn’t much literature about how men and women react to advertising. I think folks have looked for these differences, but really haven’t found them. That said, we are a still a long way from really understanding how ads work, so maybe as we start to approach advertising more scientifically — running experiments and analyzing the data — we’ll find that men and women respond differently.
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