To help marketers prepare for the 2017 holiday rush, PebblePost surveyed holiday shoppers to better understand their advertising expectations and preferences during the #1 shopping season of the year. We’ve already offered a few tips to help marketers sleigh their holiday goals, but now we turn our attention to consumers. What do they really want? And, what do they absolutely reject?

1. Hold your horses, marketers. It’s just too early.

With $917B on the line this holiday season, retailers aren’t wasting any time. This year, Black Friday sales will start even earlier—and if last year is any indication, we’ll be hearing holiday tunes in department stores before we’ve even finished our Halloween candy. But is that what consumers want? According to our panel, the answer is no. Survey shows that 39% of shoppers think marketers should wait until after Thanksgiving to start serving holiday ads. And despite the “Christmas Creep”, 48% of respondents will wait to make the majority of their holiday purchases until after Cyber Monday.

2. Impulse buys… not so much. Sales… yes, please.

In fact, according to our survey, holiday shoppers tend to be more informed, and less impulsive consumers. They need time to plan their shopping lists and compare prices. Most respondents said they take a few days to a week to evaluate their options. They really just want to find the best deals. Almost 40% of respondents said that the majority of their holiday purchases are made on sale.

3. Ads can be helpful if they’re the right ones.

Consumers want to be in control and they want to make purchase decisions at their own pace. Hounding them with online ads, interrupting their user experience and demanding that they stop what they’re doing to “act now” is not only disruptive—it’s rude. And according to our panel, it’s not helpful or impactful.

So, we asked them: Which ads are the most effective for helping to find gift ideas during the holiday season. Nearly half (47%) of all respondents reported that catalogs and other mailpieces are the most useful. In fact, 88% of respondents said they enjoy receiving mail during the holidays — especially if it’s from a brand that they’ve already shown interest in. That’s because, when it comes to effective advertising, consumers want relevant, personalized ads. They don’t want to feel like you’re wasting their time. 46% of survey respondents said they enjoy receiving ads that include discounts from stores that they’ve shopped at previously. They also want to see retail options near their physical location, with products similar to those they’ve already viewed online.


There’s no place like in-home for the holidays

According to our consumer panel, catalogs are helpful because they’re easy to refer back to. Having a tangible piece of mail reminds them to buy later, even if they don’t decide to act immediately. And since holiday shoppers like having time to consider their purchases, why not deliver a longer-lasting impression to remain top of mind?

That’s the benefit of PebblePost’s Programmatic Direct Mail® solution. Our platform combines the promise of programmatic digital efficiency with the brand impact and effectiveness of a physical impression delivered in-home. It’s totally brand safe, 100% viewable, and most importantly—respectful of the consumer experience. Marketers can now reconnect with holiday shoppers based on real-time online intent data, and deliver a high-impact Programmatic Postcard™ or Programmatic Catalog™ that allows consumers to act when they’re ready.

Marketers, remember: Your brand emergency isn’t the consumer’s to bear. Holiday shopping is stressful enough as it is. Don’t add to the anxiety with disruptive and abusive ad tactics. The best gift you can give this holiday season is a better consumer experience. So, start planning to win… and then let the shopping begin!

Survey conducted using SurveyMonkey, Inc., July 2017.

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