Shifts in seasonal shopping behavior and other tidbits from the Marketing Forward Tour

Bill Tancer, Experian Marketing Services’ head of global research, spoke to clients in NYC Tuesday at the first stop of this year’s Marketing Forward Tour. He started his presentation by noting that he’s “got the greatest job in the world” because he gets to sit and play with consumer data all day long. He also noted that in this, his 10th year of analyzing Experian’s data, fascinating shifts are happening and seasonal behavioral patterns are disappearing. For example, in the past and not surprisingly, “diet” searches started on January 1st and always lasted for five days. This year, diet searches haven’t tapered off at all, perhaps signaling an increase in concerns about personal fitness. Searches around “taxes” used to peak the first week of February but this year searches actually increased 12% YoY in January – likely driven by people researching fiscal cliff news.

As for the holidays, Cyber Monday, Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day have for years been found in the top five online shopping days. This year, the day before Thanksgiving rose, coming in at number five. Additionally, a few years ago the best online deals were only found on Black Friday and day after Christmas. Now holiday shopping deals are popping up literally every day during the holiday season. Other interesting facts: “Free Shipping Day” was up 18% this year and Christmas Day had the biggest increase in searches of all days over the period – 27%! Bill thought this could be due to folks prepping for sales in stores the day after Christmas.

Again this holiday season, search engines were the #1 way they get to retails sites, with Google at 38% followed by Yahoo! at 4.7% and Bing at 3.2%. More folks started coming to retail sites directly from Amazon.com this year as well. And interestingly, the top-searched product – for seven years in a row –has been Uggs. Social networks were also a big source of traffic to retail sites – this activity peaked the week of Thanksgiving. Finally, our research showed that the #1 reason people follow brands on social networks is to get discounts (the next reason was for product information). Bill suggests that retailers shift their emphasis from branding to coupon offers when engaging consumers on Facebook and Pinterest next holiday season.