Ready or not – the holidays are coming! As the temperatures cool, sales will begin heating up, so now is the time to think about how to get your products and services in front of customers. According to research from the website RetailMeNot, the trends for the 2018 holiday season are projecting to be a bit different than last year.

Shopping Starts Early

Many businesses don’t start providing customers with special offers or promotions until Black Friday. However, you’d be missing out on quite a few customers if you waited that long. This year, 60% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping before Black Friday. That means customers are going to begin researching online for what they want, so a good digital strategy is essential to ensure your business is found.

Of course, your Black Friday offers are still important. Shoppers are projected to spend $60 more than they did in 2017 over Black Friday weekend. Consumers are also going to be specific about where they shop for gifts. The majority (67%) will visit department stores, followed closely by online-only retailers (60%), then big box stores (47%), health & beauty stores (25%), sporting goods stores (25%) and luxury retailers (14%). If you offer both in-store and online shopping, you have the opportunity to get in front of many different customers, so ensure your advertising campaign is comprehensive and up to par.

Everyone Wants a Great Deal

Customers know what’s up during the holidays and will do quite a bit of research and shopping around to find who has the best deal on the gifts they need – 87% of them, in fact. Offering your shoppers great deals will end up bringing more money in the long run, as they are likely to spend more money with your establishment. You’ll likely win their business if you have the lowest price on the gift they want, provide them with free shipping online, and continue to have the best sales and discounts during the holiday season.

Even with a good deal, there are many consumers who plan on spending more this holiday season. Mainly, those who earned more over the year will spend more, but it may also be due to more excitement for the holiday, the need to shop for more people, higher confidence in the economy, less debt this year, or receiving more money back from tax cuts. The goal is to ensure they are spending that money with your business.

Millennials Demand a Better Retail Experience

Every customer is important, but gearing your marketing campaigns towards top audiences will yield the best results. Shoppers this year are 57% Millennials, 34% Gen X, 6% Baby Boomers, and 3% Gen Z. The top audience, the Millennials, are out for good deals this year, and, if you are open on Thanksgiving, will be more likely to visit your location in-store than Gen X or even Baby Boomers. This is because, contrary to popular belief of only online shopping, 89% want to have their gifts in-hand right away. When they do visit, make sure you and your staff provide great customer service, as it will influence their decision to do business with you now and in the future.

Use Social Media and Smart Discounts

Deals and discounts are great throughout the year, but 95% of retailers agree they drive the most purchases during the holidays. This means there will be more competition, as 81% will increase the number of discounts they offer, 74% will begin marketing earlier, and 71% will offer deeper discounts over last year’s deals.

With that much happening in retail, how you reach your shoppers may require some creativity. Utilize the many different social media platforms to advertise your products and stay connected with your customers. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Snapchat are vital to getting the word out about what you have to offer, and better yet, allow those interested to share your deals with friends, family and followers.

Focus on Online Shoppers

Black Friday is, of course, a very important shopping day for retail locations, but Cyber Monday has become even more important for many businesses. However, big online retailers like Amazon increase the pressure during the holidays. The way you advertise your holiday sales will be vital in competing with digital powerhouses, so putting more marketing budget towards mobile and social advertising will bring more attention than simple non-mobile digital ads and offline ads.

Don’t let the holiday shopping season sneak up on your business. Contact us today and we’ll help you develop a plan that is right for you and help you make the most of this year’s holiday shopping season.