When it comes to predicting consumer shopping behaviors, you don’t have to bother with fancy analytics, or even a crystal ball. Just look at a calendar. Between holidays, graduations, back-to-school, sports, and other events throughout the year, there’s enough happening on a regular basis to make planning somewhat easy for businesses.
On the flip side, everyone is looking to capitalize on seasonal and holiday trends, which can make it much harder for your business to stand out. That’s because shopping behaviors are predictable across seasons, and marketing to those seasons is a strategy that most businesses see as a huge opportunity. When a particular season or holiday is rolling around, shoppers will experience those “I Need” moments where they begin searching for a particular product or service, and your business needs to be at the front of their mind to capitalize on their business.
If you’re familiar with your target customers’ shopping behaviors by season, you can plan to make your marketing much more effective. It’s all about coming up with a marketing message and corresponding creative that will help you stand out from the competition.
Behaviors that change by season
Whoever your target consumer is, no matter what market they’re in, their behaviors are sure to change from season to season. Here are some of the key areas that that are likely to shift throughout the year:
- Preparation – Depending on the season and corresponding occasions, consumers will do different tasks from a preparation standpoint. Just before winter, for example, people will begin preparing for the cold by buying things like snow shovels for their driveway or chains for their tires if they live in a snow-prone area. Before summer, they’ll probably be looking for grilling equipment or patio items to get ready for an outdoor barbecue and spending time in the nice weather. That’s part of the reason why gardening equipment sales spike around 39 percent from May to July, as people prepare their outdoor space for the summer and warmer weather.
- Eating behaviors – Another way people will change their behavior depending upon the season is their eating and dining habits. During the summer, for instance, people will gravitate towards places with outdoor patios so they can gather and enjoy a meal with friends in mild weather. But during winter, people might not eat out as much because they’d rather order delivery and watch movies at home to avoid the cold.
- Activity – People will engage in different activities depending on the season, particularly indoor vs. outdoor as the weather changes. Outdoor shopping malls thrive in summer, while consumers might prefer an indoor mall during winter. Also, think about travel-related purchase behavior. If you’re located in a destination market like Miami or San Diego, for example, expect more tourists during the summer months looking to spend on unique experiences or souvenirs. Also, travel will spike around holidays and seasons due to people have time off of work and kids being out of school, so travel-related needs will become more needed such as gas, luggage, and other similar items. Sports is another activity that will change depending upon season. As football approaches, for instance, consumers will look for supplies to make for a great tailgate. Sports-related demand accounts for tickets to sporting events as well as all of the gear paired with that - fan gear for big teams and sports gear for local leagues that kids need. Finally, don’t forget that school is one of the biggest seasonal activities there is, with back-to-school shopping in fall being a popular shopping time for a variety of items.
Behaviors that change by holidays and milestones
Aside from seasonal, shopping behaviors always change around important Holidays and Milestones. Here’s how, and what to keep in mind.
- Holidays – These are times when people have a day (or days) off work, which inevitably changes their shopping behavior. Think of all the food and cooking equipment that’s purchased right before Thanksgiving, for example, as people stock up on everything they need for a big meal with their family. Many holidays also create a need for gifts for loved ones and friends. For example, items such as cards, chocolates, and flowers will be popular around Valentine’s Day and larger gift items around Christmas.
- Milestones – Certain times of year entail certain milestones for people. Graduation time is probably the biggest one, with parents traveling to their kids’ campus if they’re in college and purchasing graduation-related gifts for them. For high school graduations, parents are likely to purchase items that might be useful to their kids when they’re off to college, like furniture for their dorm room. Another example is tax season, a “milestone” for every individual and business. That’s why internet searches for finance services are at their peak in January and February.
Most of these trends are predictable, so your competition will also be planning their efforts around these seasons and occasions. That makes it imperative that you create unique marketing creative and campaigns that set yourself apart. Utilize these seasonal shopping trends and behaviors throughout the year to create differentiated marketing to capture the attention of those consumers that your competition is also after.