Black Friday is fast approaching, and with online shoppers dropping $6.22 billion in 2018, most retailers invest considerable time and money into preparing for the shopping weekend. However, according to a recent Google report, only 18% of shoppers consolidate their shopping to the Black Friday-to-Cyber Monday period. Some people shop well in advance and some leave it to the last minute. The 2019 U.S. Holiday Trend Report examines in depth four types of holiday shoppers: The Evergreen, Early Bird, Deal Seeker and Last-Minute Shopper. With a reported $126 billion spent online throughout the entire holiday season last year, and total retail spending hitting $998 billion, it pays to focus on the entire shopping period. In this article, we review the behaviors of the four types and offer insights based on our experience to help online retailers cater to all four, thereby maximizing the results they can expect to see from their digital holiday advertising initiatives.

To provide a brief overview of each of the segments, the Evergreen shopper spreads out shopping over the whole holiday season. They’re most likely to be Gen Xers and Boomers, less likely to be parents or be Millennials. Deal Seekers do most of their shopping during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend. This group is less likely to consist of Boomers and more likely to consist of parents, Gen Xers and Millennials – they also indicated that they’re very likely to be shopping for themselves while they shop for gifts. The Early Bird shopper gets most of their shopping done early in the season and are most likely to be Boomers. While the Last-Minute shoppers are most likely to be parents, Millennials and Gen Xers.

Each of the segments is spending the majority of their shopping time online over offline; between 53% and 55% for the Evergreen, Early Bird and Last-Minute shopper and 63% for the Deal Seeker. However, in terms of the percentage of their overall purchases, the Evergreen, Early Bird and Last-Minute shoppers make more than half of their purchases in-store. This data shows that customers are using multiple channels to research, consider and ultimately make a purchase. Consumers may research online before buying in-store, or research in-store before buying online. In fact, between 38% and 51% of shoppers use their mobile device to research while in a physical store. Online and offline can no longer be clearly delineated, so not only should retailers be using digital advertising to sell stuff online, but they should be using it to help consumers find their stores if they have brick-and-mortar locations.

This is particularly true for those looking to engage Last-Minute shoppers; 66% of their purchases are made in-store (in contrast to 47%-55% for the other segments) most likely because they’ve left it too late to get their gifts shipped in time for Christmas (no judgement, I’ve been there). Last-Minute shoppers are also less likely to have a retailer in mind when they begin their shopping. This is a perfect opportunity to get in front of them while they’re in the consideration stage. Using Local campaigns to help these poor Last-Minute shoppers find physical store locations is a great way to merge online and offline.

Furthermore, holiday shoppers are becoming increasingly comfortable with online and mobile purchasing – Deal Seekers in particular are most likely to rely on their smartphones to shop. According to Adobe, for the first time, smartphones accounted for more than half of all online visits, and 31% of online sales were made via smartphone – which is up 24% from last year. This pattern is particularly strong on the weekends where share of visits and revenue increased 6% and 8% respectively. This means that retailers mobile experiences need to be perfect, but it could also impact bid strategy if mobile traffic is more likely to convert on certain days of the week.

While the Black Friday/Cyber Monday is the highest spending days of the holiday season, the whole shopping period should be considered a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important that retailers take into account different shopping behaviors and provide consumers with the information they need, get their messages in front of them at the right time, and combine their online efforts with offline shopping opportunities (if available) to fully take advantage of consumer holiday spending.