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Holiday prep is underway for many brands and retailers, and Google is providing resources to help get ready.
The company this week held Think Retail, a virtual event designed to help businesses prepare for the busiest shopping season of the year. In a series of presentations, Google shared insights on what to expect this year, as well as new tools for commerce and advertising.
What to expect
Google shared a few data points that help to characterize this year’s holiday season:
- Consumers are shopping earlier. In June 2021, 31% of US shoppers reported already having started their holiday shopping. In May, more than a third (36%) said they already had gift ideas.
- With a longer holiday season, demand is flatter. During the first 3 weeks of November 2021, US sales rose 10% year-over-year, with consumers shopping earlier.
- Shoppers are everywhere. In 2021, 54% of shoppers used five or more channels, like video and social media to shop over a two-day period. These shoppers made an average of 2x more purchases, and spent twice as much compared to those who used only one or two channels.
- In-store is back. Searches for “store open” on Google have grown 400% year-over-year globally. Brands and retailers must reach across online and offline channels to reach “intuitive” shoppers that expect seamless experiences.
- Availability is still a concern. Supply chain anxiety continues. Three in 10 consumers are shopping for things they don’t need until later because of out-of-stock concerns.
- Holding out for deals. The holidays are always a time when shoppers seek bargains, and a time of 40-year-high inflation will bring that into relief. Google said that more than half (55%) of holiday shoppers it surveyed are planning to hold off on buying gift items until they are on sale.
Google laid out several recently-launched features that it believes will come in handy for merchants during the holiday season:
List online and in-store product inventory on Google for free through Google Merchant Center. Updating the product catalog ahead of the holidays can help to ensure that products stand out in ads.
Demand forecasts on the Insights page predict upcoming trends for a business, so that merchants can review when demand increases, and identify events and expansion opportunities.
Product-specific insights are now available in the Google Ads products tab. “These insights let you spot underperforming offers, identify products with missing feed attributes and compare your bidding strategy with your top competitors,” Google said.
Performance Max campaigns allow merchants to access all Google Ads inventory across YouTube, display, search, Discover, Gmail and Maps through a single campaign that syncs with a product feed. Google said it plans to release templates this fall that will allow merchants to create video ads for Performance Max campaigns in a “matter of minutes.”
Performance Max campaigns help attract customers for in-store shopping. Merchants can promote in-store promotions or seasonal specials using these tools.
YouTube video action campaigns allow merchants to make video ads on YouTube shoppable. Through these ads, a panel below the video automatically expands to showcase products. Users can then click on a product to visit a landing page and learn more, or make a purchase.
The Content API is now a tool that merchants can use to add deals and promotions to listings. This is designed to help upload and manage deals at scale.
Delivery and returns can be noted alongside a product. Shopping Ads now allow merchants to make annotations that list expected delivery times, (“Get it by 12/20”) or generous return policies (Free 90-day returns).
For more, check out Google’s full library of resources at Think Retail on Air. A keynote from this week’s event is below:
Trending in Marketing
More people are expected to gift experiences in 2023.
Consumers are planning to up spending for Valentine’s Day 2023. Ecommerce is expected to be the top shopping destination, even as there will be a big uptick in people gifting experiences.
U.S. Valentine’s Day spending is expected to reach $25.9 billion, up from $23.9 billion in 2022.
Online will be the top destination, with 35% of shoppers planning to buy through ecommerce. This is followed by department stores (34%), discount stores (31%) and specialty stores (18%).
About half of consumers plan to participate in Valentine’s Day, while half will also seek out discounts or promotions.
Average spend will be $192.80, up from $175.41 in 2022.
It’s not just romantic. Gifts for pets, coworkers, friends and classmates or teachers will account for $14 of the $17 per-person increase.
Many more people plan to go out. About one-third of consumers are planning to give the gift of experience, up from 26% last year and the highest since the survey began in 2017. Men, in particular are more likely to give the gift of experience.
Top gifts include candy (57%), greeting cards (40%), flowers (37%), an evening out (32%), jewelry (21%), gift cards (20%) and clothing (19%).
Key quote from NRF CEO Matthew Shay: “Valentine’s Day is a special occasion to shop for the people we care most about. This year, as consumers embrace spending on friends and loved ones, retailers are ready to help customers celebrate Valentine’s Day with memorable gifts at affordable prices.”
The bottom line: Many of the fundamentals from the holiday season are holding up during Valentine’s Day. People are seeking discounts and returning to experiences. But they are still turning to ecommerce, which is showing continued staying power.