Unwrap success: Six strategies to shine for Holiday 2023

Holiday season is just around the corner, and with holiday spending expected to reach $1.3 trillion this year, it’s essential that brands understand their consumers’ wants and needs so that they can offer a seamless and personalized shopping experience.  

Epsilon has identified six powerful strategies that can help your brand shine amidst all the holiday glitter and cheer. Let the fa la la begin! 

1. Establish top-of-mind awareness as holiday shopping kicks off early

It’s no secret that many people begin their holiday shopping early. In fact, in an Epsilon Shopper’s Voice survey of 1000 holiday gift purchasers, 38% of respondents reported starting their holiday shopping before mid October.* The research also showed that November is the month that consumers feel is appropriate for brands and store to start advertising for the holiday season (44%) closely followed by October (39%). This signals to brands that if they want to get in front of competition, they must kick off in-market campaigns as early as September. Beginning efforts early allows you to get ahead of key holiday events and beat out competition.  

A great way to establish visibility is through reaching buyers who are actively shopping for what you offer but haven’t found you yet. Identify these individuals using your first-party data and then engage with relevant offers and promotions to steer them in your direction. Drive consideration events, like site visits, from buyers who haven’t engaged with you and are in-market.  

2. Reactivate your lapsed buyers

One of the most often overlooked yet highly valuable opportunities for brands during the holiday season lies in reactivating lapsed customers. Another recent Epsilon study of 15 retail brands found that nearly half of lapsed customers’ page views occurred during the holiday months, and 70% of new orders from lapsed customers who were reactivated in the past 9 months happened in November-December

The holiday season presents a unique chance to reignite interest and turbocharge your sales. Epsilon Shopper’s Voice found that 23.7% of consumers expect to spend more on holiday shopping this year compared to last year, and 56.5% of consumers expect to spend about the same as last year. A strategy that can help reactivate and drive value is highlighting back-in-stock items and exclusive offers that are too good for even your inactive customers to pass up.

Another way to reengage lapsed customers is to find and reach those who aren't captured by your own data. You can do this by integrating a customer's full transactional history and matching processor transactional files to a people-based identity solution like Epsilon's CORE ID. By doing so, your brand can both understand your customers' full spectrum of buying behaviors, and identify lapsed customers who were not in your database.

3. Drive long-term value from your newly acquired holiday customers

Holiday customers represent more than just a seasonal boost in revenue; they hold the potential to become long-term valuable customers of your brand. However, it’s easy to let them slip away—Epsilon found that 80% of newly acquired holiday customers in 2022 didn’t make a second purchase through the end of Q1 and 75% didn't through August 2023. You need to start nurturing your newly acquired holiday customers early to ensure they aren’t one and done. 

With the right partner, acquiring and retaining new customers can be seamless. Epsilon helped a discount retailer identify a solution to drive repeat purchases and increase holiday revenue. Though the retailer saw acquisition as a top priority, our analysis illustrated that focusing on customer retention would help them best reach their holiday sales goals. With these insights, we helped the retailer launch a campaign that resulted in nearly $13 million in revenue and 88.3 thousand repeat customers.  

Success isn’t always about how many new customers you can acquire, but rather how many new customers you can convert into long-term buyers.

4. Win over budget-conscious shoppers with personalized holiday promotions

Inflation and downsizing continue to influence a budget-conscious and deal-seeking mindset for many consumers this year. According to Epsilon Shopper’s Voice, 83% agreed that they are “making a point of looking for sales and deals on gifts,” and 46% will buy less expensive gifts. These shoppers play a critical role in driving holiday sales, so presenting them with the right buying opportunities can be a game-changer for your brand.  

Consider highlighting peak season events, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, that help shoppers save for the holidays and acquire prospects who look similar to them. If you want to sell a specific product or group of products, you can use shopper behavior to push desired categories with exclusive deals personalized to the items the buyer is shopping for.

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5. Convert early and late gift givers as they embrace omnichannel shopping

Each holiday season sees a growing number of consumers embracing a blended shopping experience. Epsilon Shopper’s Voice found 51% of consumer said they prefer to shop for gifts online and in-store equally – and interestingly it is higher for Gen Z and Gen Y. As of 2023, the Mintel Winter Holiday Shopping Report expects that 81% of consumers will shop across various channels, including in-store and online, to find what they want when they want it. Nowadays, an omnichannel offering is non-negotiable for many consumers, so you must make sure to provide engaging experiences both online and in stores.  

Acquire new holiday shoppers online using lookalike modeling; use customer insights to look for prospects who behave similarly to your existing customers. Retain existing buyers by tying in what you know about their interests and behaviors to personalize messaging and promotions. And don’t forget to build in-person connections as well. Drive in-store sales with holiday creative and limited time promotions customized by store location.

6. Acquire a unique audience of new buyers based on past holiday transactions

When building a new audience for the holiday season, it’s important to identify and reach individuals who purchase at a set of stores that align with or compete with your brand. Because they are already interested in products similar to yours, they are more likely to spend with you. Expand your customer base by leveraging an accurate transactional consumer database that shows the specific retailers and brands people are shopping. This opens you to a whole new set of buyers outside of your sphere of influence that will hopefully become active loyal customers beyond the end of the year.

The 2023 holiday season offers a wonderful opportunity for brands to shine, and with the right partner, they can ensure that their presence remains strong in the hearts and minds of consumers. Tap into Epsilon's unparalleled data sets across demographic, transactional and psychographic to gain a deep understanding of your consumers. Once you have a full picture of your customers, Epsilon Digital can help you reach across channels to identify people that are hidden from other partners and connect every digital impression to a real person. Discover how to make your mark during the most wonderful time of the year with Epsilon.


*Epsilon Shopper’s Voice: online survey conducted September 29-October 6, 2023, n=1,000 Christmas/Hanukkah gift purchasers, 18-84 years of age, 70/30 female/male.