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2013 Holiday Shopping Season Predictions

Attention, brand marketers. One of the highest grossing shopping seasons is predicted to kick off sooner than you think. Curious as to how you can prepare? Read this post for predicted trends for the 2013 holiday shopping season. $640 Billion 2013 Holiday Retail Spend Consumers will be on the lookout for value messaging, coupons, awesome promotions, and free shipping. One in five retailers say free shipping will be the deciding factor on purchases this year, so brand marketers should consider this tactic if scalable/possible and consider using it to their advantage on the big in-store shopping days such as Black Friday according to Google Internal Search Data. In addition to this, retailers are focusing on flash sales and promotions such as BOGO. Mobile Mobile is believed to contribute to 38% of in-store sales by retailers and 53% of retailers believe the most significant transactions will be via mobile channels. Based on the shopper's location and device, retailers should aim to meet consumers in context of wherever they are (comparing prices, checking inventory, hunting for coupons, etc.) As Interbrand points out in Best Retail Brands 2013 report: "In the future, retail stores will look different than they do today. The digital dimension and corresponding consumer behavior continue to evolve and change the way a brand experience is delivered. Now that the idea of shopping can't be anchored in geography or managed as an event, the brand experience is too important'and holds too much promise'to be ignored. It's critical that retailers focus on enhancing brand experiences no matter where they are." The 'Online Shopping Continuum'? Typical peak shopping days (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas Eve) are stretching into shopping weeks and extended promotions. Retailers are taking advantage of these shopping 'holidays'? and are pushing the urgency tactic through mobile to consumers according to the Chase Holiday Pulse. Timing is Everything Retailers will be open for business via mobile at all times, especially on those major in-store shopping holidays. The three biggest days for mobile queries were Black Friday, Thanksgiving, and the day after Christmas (Google Internal Search Data, Shopping Category, Q4, Percentage Lift vs. Average Q4 Day). In 2012, shopping-related searches increased astronomically during key in-store days. Up to 40% of retailers' sales this year are expected to happen during the 2013 holiday season (National Retail Federation, Holiday FAQ). As early as it may seem, consumers and retailers alike are busy prepping for the big holiday spend this year, which is predicted to be one of the highest grossing yet. Retailers and brand marketers, take note to plan first with mobile tactics as part of holiday marketing shopping strategies. Happy holidays and happier shopping to all!          

Trend Spotting: 2012 Holiday Shopping Season

It's the most wonderful time of the year (especially for retailers). The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and whether brands are focusing on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or beyond, taking total advantage of the latest consumer behaviors and trends is essential. What to Expect this Season In-store Technology Top trend spotter Marian Salzman predicts consumers this season will be 'shopping under the tech influence'? more than ever before. Brick-and-mortars are sitting heavy under the influence of trends as they use interactive technology in-store to attract tech-savvy customers. An example is Macy's past holiday promotion, which installed a Magic Fitting Room at the Herald Square store in NYC. Shoppers were able to try on the hottest new items in-store, creating up to 16 outfits which could all be placed in a digital closet. They then had the option to share with friends Facebook or email. Not only are stores integrating tablet use in-stores, but mobile shopping is also expected to be all-the-rage this holiday season. Consumers are using their tablets and smart phones to receive coupons, read product reviews, and share their in-store findings via social media. According to Baynotes 2012 Holiday Online Shopping Experience Survey, 60% of tablet owners expect to use their tablets to research and/or purchase in 2012. Major fashion retailers such as French Connection, Zara, and Marks & Spencer are allowing their Facebook fans to shop their products on their smart phones and more are expected to follow in the upcoming season. Pop-Up Shops Holiday 2012 is all about the Pop-Up Shop. Pop-ups continue to emerge and offer one-off items with less sticker shock for consumers while also providing out-of-the-box ways for brands to co-produce and present an exciting new experience for consumers. Even NYC Mayor Bloomberg is embracing the trend by teaming up with Rachel Shechtman, founder of the Concept Shop, to host a pop-up shop competition for emerging local fashion retailers and tech companies. Business of Fashion writes that the competition is a part of Bloomberg's Fashion NYC 2020 initiative.The winners will get a temporary space inside the concept shop Story, a "tool kit of business services valued at $25,000" and industry exposure. Brick-and-mortar stores are adapting to the evolving marketplace by offering exclusive products and customizing the experience to the location. Pop-up shops and limited-time, exclusive events are ways to give visitors a reason to buy while also limiting retailers' risk. Click here to check out some of the hottest pop-up shops coming this fall and holiday season. In-Store Incentives Because consumers need more of a reason to shop in-store, brands are amping up the experience. Take 'hoteltailing'? for an example. Boutiques, fashion brands, and retailers are teaming up with hotels that reflect their target consumers' preferences/ lifestyles in the cities in which they reside. The Ace Hotel in New York City introduced its Opening Ceremony store to do just that. By partnering with each other, retail outlets and hotels can reflect their unique values and aesthetic while connecting with consumers on a deeper level. Though there are many different trends forecasted to affect retail this season, technology and out-of-the-box concepts are definitely two of the biggest on the radar, ranging from designer pop-up boutiques on the streets of NYC to the most innovative and interactive shopping apps. Consumers today are all-digital, impacting social media and the online world in a big way. Brands who truly want to influence the marketplace this season will engage with consumers through with a hybrid of technology and unique experiences in-store.  Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + B)Italic (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + I)Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D)Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U)Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O)Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q)Align Left (Alt + Shift + L)Align Center (Alt + Shift + C)Align Right (Alt + Shift + R)Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A)Unlink (Alt + Shift + S)Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T)Toggle spellchecker (Alt + Shift + N)? Toggle fullscreen mode (Alt + Shift + G)Show/Hide Kitchen Sink (Alt + Shift + Z) FormatFormat? UnderlineAlign Full (Alt + Shift + J)Select text color? Paste as Plain TextPaste from WordRemove formattingInsert custom characterOutdentIndentUndo (Ctrl + Z)Redo (Ctrl + Y)Help (Alt + Shift + H) It's the most wonderful time of the year (especially for retailers). The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and whether brands are focusing on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or beyond, taking total advantage of the latest consumer behaviors and trends is essential. What to Expect this Season In-store Technology Top trend spotter Marian Salzman predicts consumers this season will be 'shopping under the tech influence'? more than ever before. Brick-and-mortars are sitting heavy under the influence of trends as they use interactive technology in-store to attract tech-savvy customers. An example is Macy's past holiday promotion, which installed a Magic Fitting Room at the Herald Square store in NYC. Shoppers were able to try on the hottest new items in-store, creating up to 16 outfits which could all be placed in a digital closet. They then had the option to share with friends Facebook or email. Not only are stores integrating tablet use in-stores, but mobile shopping is also expected to be all-the-rage this holiday season. Consumers are using their tablets and smart phones to receive coupons, read product reviews, and share their in-store findings via social media. According to Baynotes 2012 Holiday Online Shopping Experience Survey, 60% of tablet owners expect to use their tablets to research and/or purchase in 2012. Major fashion retailers such as French Connection, Zara, and Marks & Spencer are allowing their Facebook fans to shop their products on their smart phones and more are expected to follow in the upcoming season. Pop-Up Shops Holiday 2012 is all about the Pop-Up Shop. Pop-ups continue to emerge and offer one-off items with less sticker shock for consumers while also providing out-of-the-box ways for brands to co-produce and present an exciting new experience for consumers. Even NYC Mayor Bloomberg is embracing the trend by teaming up with Rachel Shechtman, founder of the Concept Shop, to host a pop-up shop competition for emerging local fashion retailers and tech companies. Business of Fashion writes that the competition is a part of Bloomberg's Fashion NYC 2020 initiative.The winners will get a temporary space inside the concept shop Story, a "tool kit of business services valued at $25,000" and industry exposure. Brick-and-mortar stores are adapting to the evolving marketplace by offering exclusive products and customizing the experience to the location. Pop-up shops and limited-time, exclusive events are ways to give visitors a reason to buy while also limiting retailers' risk. Click here to check out some of the hottest pop-up shops coming this fall and holiday season. In-Store Incentives Because consumers need more of a reason to shop in-store, brands are amping up the experience. Take 'hoteltailing'? for an example. Boutiques, fashion brands, and retailers are teaming up with hotels that reflect their target consumers' preferences/ lifestyles in the cities in which they reside. The Ace Hotel in New York City introduced its Opening Ceremony store to do just that. By partnering with each other, retail outlets and hotels can reflect their unique values and aesthetic while connecting with consumers on a deeper level. Though there are many different trends forecasted to affect retail this season, technology and out-of-the-box concepts are definitely two of the biggest on the radar, ranging from designer pop-up boutiques on the streets of NYC to the most innovative and interactive shopping apps. Consumers today are all-digital, impacting social media and the online world in a big way. Brands who truly want to influence the marketplace this season will engage with consumers through with a hybrid of technology and unique experiences in-store. Path:

Presents Get (more) Personal

It seems the department store push for QR code integration has continued. You may remember last year when Macy's launched Backstage Pass. Supported by in-store 'how-to-scan'? posters, Backstage Pass codes let shoppers view fashion tips, designer interviews and other video content based on the store's holiday wares. Fast forward to the 2011 shopping season. Department store giant JCPenney believes 'tis the season to try their hand at QR code integration. Supported by the 'Who's your Santa?'? advertising campaign, 'Santa Tags'? decked with QR Codes will allow gift buyers to record personal voice messages up to one minute long. Instead of simply connecting you to a URL, Santa Tags QR codes create a very merry mobile experience that connect you with friends and family in a fun, surprising and intimate way. And let's face it: you can say a lot more in one minute than you can in a Tweet, on a lo-def paper gift tag or a pre-canned holiday card. This innovation in personalization has the potential to make holiday spirits and sales soar. This new use for QR codes doesn't just add value to customers' lives, it gives JCPenney an edge on the competition. Customers can buy gifts in a click, but Santa Tags give them an extra reason to step away from the computer and into the store ' their store. From heartfelt wishes to inside jokes, every gift can be accompanied by a super-personal stamp ' even if the gifter shipped it across the globe or picked it up last-minute. So while Dad may already have 50 ties, he'll always remember #51 because it came with a special voice message from his little girl. Indeed I think this season's Santa Tag will challenge shoppers to 'think outside the tag'? and find the time to step into a JCPenney to make a purchase. Now, what do you say?   How Santa Tags work: The gifter scans the Santa Tag QR code using a smartphone, records a personal message and attaches the Santa Tag to the gift. When the giftee scans the code with their mobile phone, the message plays. Holiday cheer enjoyed by all!

Holiday Shopping'?¦ Mobilized.

Who wants to spend hours on end waiting in lines at the mall when you can take care of your holiday shopping via your mobile device? Between check-in deals, social coupons, scanner and price comparison apps, shopping has never been so easy. But does it really match up to the holiday spirit of in-store shopping? Smartphones have developed so drastically over their short lifespan that the current technology allows for users to stay connected as much as you can from a computer, without even having to be connected to one. The phones have more power than ever before, and even larger viewing screens to assist consumers in these mobile shopping sprees. Shoppers frequently conduct research before making a purchase in-store or online, whether they are looking for the best price or consumer reviews on the product. This process has been simplified, as these new mobile search capabilities are not only helping the sales cycle in-store, but they are now enabling us to search for and purchase items all from one mobile device. According to eMarketer.com and IDC Retail Insights, mobile shopping will account for 28% of holiday shopping this season, which translates into $127 billion of the $447 billion in holiday spending that has been forecasted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) for the U.S. Therefore, it has become more relevant for retailers to create a mobile presence either through a mobile app or an easy-to-use mobile web interface. In a recent survey conducted by Google, nearly half of the smartphone users questioned claimed that they were 'very'? or 'extremely likely'? to download a mobile app for their holiday shopping this year. According to Stacy Janiak, United States Retail Practice Leader at Deloitte, 'We are at the cusp of this technology really driving a lot of activity during the shopping season'?¦ It is both an opportunity and a challenge for a retailer, because you can have a consumer who can cross-shop your store with other brick-and-mortar stores or online, all from the convenience of your aisle.'? For example, J.C. Penney launched an integrated marketing campaign in mid-November ('New list. New Gifts. Who Knew'?), that helped to showcase the chain as the place to find gifts that will top everyone's Christmas list. The campaign helped to raise awareness of the quality and breadth of merchandise that the retailer has to offer, and included national television spots, outdoor ads, print, digital, direct mail and of course mobile and social networking. The launch of their new mobile app, specifically for the holiday season (m.jcp.com), should be highlighted, as it allows consumers to make purchases right from their smartphone, while checking-in on Foursquare and Facebook Deals to receive special in-store offers. Mobile coupons are also sent to consumers via text-message, which give them the option to receive special offers. However, one must raise the question of whether or not mobile shopping can really equate to that of in-store shopping during the holiday season. Part of the holiday tradition in my family is taking the time to make our lists, and visit the stores together for an evening of holiday cheer as we purchase gifts for family and friends. Some may argue that there is a lack of holiday spirit in shopping online, as you are not emerged in the excitement, smells of the holiday season, or the joy of stumbling upon the perfect gift that you may not have thought of otherwise. Technology can only do so much around the holidays; the rest is all found in the full-on experience of traditional holiday shopping. I, for one, will always take part in the experience regardless of how crazy the malls may be. Nothing in my mind can beat the holiday rush, as it only comes but once a year!

I'm a Hauler, Baby, I Just Want You To Know

Should I get the matte taupe eye shadow or the shimmery plum eye shadow? Decisions like these make life so difficult'?¦ Well, perhaps they don't make life difficult, but they certainly interest a lot of people. And who would've guessed? Hauls are the latest phenomenon in marketing ' in fact, so revolutionizing that our own CEO Gary Colen recently chatted with The Boston Globe about hauls and their influence (and no, I'm not being sarcastic ' you can read the article here). So what exactly is a haul and what makes them influential? Hauls are videos created by fashionistas in which they discuss their recent fashion and beauty purchases, and ongoing shopping bargains, to enthusiastic viewers in search of shopping advice. Such self-made videos have been sweeping YouTube for more than a year and some have been garnering views of nearly 48,000 per video. That's right, 48,000 views. Want more numbers? You got it: more than 200,000 hauls have been uploaded to YouTube this year, and posts are expected to rise as the holiday season ramps up. Needless to say, retailers are seeing the potential in hauls and persuading vloggers (or 'haulers'?) to pitch their products through seeding, gift cards and other goodies. The amount of money each hauler makes depends on the number of views their videos have. More views = more money. Some haulers disclose their earnings in sponsored posts, while others discreetly accept. And now for the fun FTC part: FTC guidelines that took effect in December 2008 state that haulers must disclose if they received free products. However, many of them are unaware of this; so when working with haulers, make sure to inform (or remind) them about open disclosure. Haulers also earn money through YouTube's Partners Program, which gives them a share of profits from ads that run prior to, and appear alongside, their videos. MakeupByMel, for instance, earns $12,000 a year through the program. Regardless of the kinks that haulers are encountering, they are quickly making headway in the world of marketing. Some have appeared on morning shows ' and one set of hauler sisters even have their own reality show. This frenzy makes me wonder, though, how long will this movement last? Or is it just another passing fad? Anyways, back to the important stuff'?¦ matte taupe or shimmery purple?

Sweet Deal

Recently, Facebook announced the addition of a deals service to its Facebook Places. Similar to Four Square, after 'checking- in'? via their mobile device, consumers are able to view a variety of deals being offered in their area. After selecting the offer desired, redemption is as easy as showing the screen of your cell-phone to the cashier. With over 200 million consumers accessing Facebook via their cell phone, this application seems like a no-brainer for businesses struggling with how to drive consumers into their stores. Facebook Deals are very easy to create and companies have control over the duration and quantity of the deals being offered. Currently, there are four different types of deals for brands to work with: 1.       Individual ' standard purchase incentive for new or existing customers. 2.       Friends ' builds exposure by offering discounts to a larger group who must 'check-in'? together. 3.       Loyalty ' customers access deals by checking in multiple times. 4.       Charity ' brand donates dollars for every 'check-in'?, thereby giving back to the community. Most importantly, Facebook Deals are convenient. While businesses can only run one of these Deals at a time, the duration and quantity settings provide the opportunity to test different types of Deals throughout the year to see which works best. Consumers do not have to worry about printing anything or forgetting their coupon at home. And retailers can have a special offer in the market after only a few clicks of the mouse, immediately driving traffic into their locations. With Black Friday fast approaching, it will be interesting to see how retailers (especially mom-and-pop establishments) take advantage of this latest addition to Facebook Places in an effort to increase their holiday traffic.

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