Holiday hot sheet – Win customers after the holiday season

As this holiday season heads into its last two weeks, it’s time to plan for Christmas day and post-holiday campaigns. Read on to learn how to plan campaigns and win consumers over after the holiday season has officially ended.

What’s hot this week:

  • The hot toys are a mix of new tech products and classics with 13 of the top 20 hot toys being new to the list this week.
  • Most gift card searches are branded with Amazon appearing in 5 of the top 10 Gift Card search variations.
  • Restaurant and coffee shop gift cards are the most common with 44 percent of adults having purchased a gift card of this type during the last year.
  • Daily deals and shipping deadline themes for emails are more prominent in December at the expense of gifting and gift card themes.

After Christmas shopping appears to start on Christmas Day. Last season, however, only about half of all brands sent promotional mailings on Christmas Day. Promotional campaigns with offers in the subject line sent on Christmas Day 2012 had double the transaction rates of other Christmas Day promotional mailings (0.17 percent with offers compared to 0.08 percent without an offer). Looking at Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 2012, we found that mailings sent between 8:00 AM and noon received a much higher percentage of total revenue than their percentage of mailing volume, making that time period the best for mailing on both of those days.

It appears that customers respond well to emails sent even earlier in the day during the week after Christmas.

In 2012, we saw the number of campaigns with offers of 50 percent off or more mentioned in their subject lines increase in December, with the greatest number seen in the week after Christmas. This year, we’ve also seen an increase in these deep discount offers starting the last week of November. We predict that they will continue to increase and spike the week after Christmas as customers take advantage of after Christmas sales.

Retail highlights

Themes found in emails are shifting in December compared to November:

  • Daily deals and shipping deadline themes are more prominent in December at the expense of gifting and gift card themes.
  • Emails with flash sales, friends and family, and stocking stuffer themes are slightly diminished in December.
  • The wishlist theme is more popular in 2013 than it was in 2012, and it remains relatively steady as a theme in December versus November.

Free shipping

Free Shipping Day was this week (December 18th to be precise), but interestingly searches for “Free Shipping” were likely to have already reached their peak if we use 2012 as a guide. The chart below shows the increase in searches for “Free Shipping” each week during the holiday season relative to a baseline week ending November 3 in 2012 and November 2 in 2013. Searches during both years began to rise the week of Thanksgiving and peaked the week after Thanksgiving, which includes Cyber Monday.

(Keep in mind that in 2013, Thanksgiving was a full week later than in 2012.)

The gift of plastic

Entering the final weeks of the holiday shopping season, gift card sales start to pick up as shoppers look to wrap up their shopping with minimal effort. So far this season, online searches for “gift card” have trended higher than those in 2012. Even though “gift card” searches have already increased notably since the start of the holiday season, we don’t expect to see the peak until the week of Christmas, meaning that marketers still have time to go after the gift card-seeking consumer.

The most popular types of gift cards purchased by consumers are those for restaurants and coffee shops. In the last year, 44 percent of U.S. adults bought restaurant or coffee shop gift cards spending on average $75.51 for these types of cards. Among credit card branded gift cards, Visa tops the list by far with 19 percent of adults buying a Visa gift card in the last year compared with MasterCard- and American Express-branded cards, which only 5 percent of adults purchased. Despite the fact that American Express cards are among the least purchased type of gift card, givers are the most generous with an average spend of $114.37.

Stay up-to-date on your hot product news!

Visit and bookmark the Hot Holiday Products and Trends page for the latest trends on hot products this holiday season, as well as a list of the top 20 online retailers capturing the greatest share of visits to the Hitwise Retail 500. We’ll update the content every Tuesday, so check back often! You can also browse through the hot products and top retailers from week’s past on the site. Get your hot product news!

If you missed any of the holiday hot sheets, don’t fear. You now can download past week’s Hot Sheets online.

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