fbpx
DigitalFacebookFeaturedOpinion

This Holiday season: people will always shop as people first, by Facebook’s Rana Bouri

By Rana Bouri, Head of Marketing for MENA, Facebook.

We know people around the world have experienced adversity in the last year; it was a period of remarkable challenge and restriction. But on the flip side of that coin, we’ve also heard the equally remarkable stories of adaptation and innovation.

One of many sectors that saw this duality play out is the world of retail and e-commerce – a field that suffered much disruption. So what was the impact of lockdowns and curfews on people’s shopping habits? What technological and behavioural change can be observed? And, crucially, which of those things were ephemeral, which are here to stay – and how can we tell the difference?

To explore these questions, Facebook commissioned a consumer research with YouGov and CrowdDNA focused on the holiday period and shopping habits.

Our findings were revealing when it comes to what people buy, and how they shop, change is afoot. But what also became clear is that amongst the myriad shifts and trends, other, more timeless factors are indeed at play. Human truths arguably as true today as 10, 20…100 years ago. Suggesting that businesses who embrace both the timely trends in technology and opportunity, without forgetting the perennial human truths great consumer experience is based on, will be the ones to thrive.

Hear hear! Connect your best set of headphones for Campaign’s next Online Briefing: Creativity you can Hear – Audio Storytelling, Targeting and the Future. Join us to find out how to use music, podcasts and more to make your brand sing.

 

Let’s reflect on four fundamental human needs our research has observed the online shoppers of today are calling for:

Community & Connection

The Internet’s ability to connect people through interests and build community is well known. Equally, the Internet’s place as a global shopping destination is also now established. So it should come as no surprise when these two factors begin to overlap, as our studies revealed.

The desire to connect with people through shopping experiences is well demonstrated in our studies today. For example, 8 out of 10 global MSD shoppers we surveyed say that these events allow them to “feel part of a community”[1]. Typically, this happens through connecting with peers (for example over WhatsApp) or with experts (e.g., creators on Instagram who drum up excitement and provide useful tips to guide discovery).

More popular in our region, the more medium-term growth in moments like New Years, Back to School, Cyber sales, White Friday, Dubai Shopping Festival reflect other expressions of shopping and community coming together. The influencer economy plays a role here too. While, on the one hand, creators play an important part in the make-up of our personal digital entertainment ecosystems, their relationship with brands is an obvious source of the tailored engagement people find valuable.

Further analysis into the data reveals this shopping/community phenomenon coming to life in a variety of different behaviours:

  • People connecting through shopping within personal social groups: 58% of global Holiday 2020 shoppers surveyed took actions to share their product discoveries via social platforms, through behaviours like wishlisting, sharing or tagging[2].
  • People supporting local communities through shopping: 7 out of 10 global holiday shoppers surveyed took at least one action to support a local or independent small business during the recent holiday season; equally, purchasing locally (67%) was a top priority for UAE shoppers when gift shopping during the 2020 holiday season with 69% considering the environmental impact of their purchase.

So, when it comes to presenting their brands, businesses should remember the Holiday season is about the brands and products – but also the moment. Marketers should ask themselves: how is my communication contributing to the season? How are we making people feel that engaging with the brand helps the shopper be part of the moment? Equally, from a community perspective, marketers can ask: what is the community or locality your brand represents, that shoppers can demonstrate their connection to through purchase?

Brands should consider a more personalised approach to their campaigns, to connect with shoppers around interests, geographies and other passion points.

Engagement & Entertainment

While the Internet is still an unbeatable place for price and intent-based shopping, other digital experiences have emerged. Our studies have shown a growing appetite from shoppers, and response from innovative businesses, to make the online shopping experience exciting, engaging – truly entertaining.

Examples of this include live shopping events, ‘gamified’ shopping experiences and the growing role of creators in the shopping ecosystem. And there is a clear correlation between these phenomena and the most nascent incarnations of ‘mega sale’ shopping days (MSDs) – like the recent three-day mega sale that took place in Dubai or the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) that combines shopping and entertainment. Our research revealed that 82% of global MSD shoppers we polled agree they like to take part in shopping experiences that are entertaining[3].

Even leading e-commerce sites take part in these activities – they aren’t just destinations known for shopping; they’re known for entertainment too – combining shopping with social platforms, influencer video reviews, and ‘adver-tainment’-style content. Shoppers can purchase directly from social platforms, and from creators, they discover on Instagram.

Equally, the ‘gamification’ of shopping experiences has become prevalent around MSDs. We’ve also seen a rise in live shopping experiences where local creators guide discovery and purchase. 31% of global MSD shoppers we polled said they like to see interactive games/giveaways as part of the MSD experience[4]; 20% of global holiday shoppers that were surveyed who made an unexpected discovery on social media discovered the item during a live shopping event[5]. These data may not currently seem high, but we anticipate they will grow.

Savvy marketers who truly put their customers’ media and content preferences first can be well placed to succeed. Those who find the sweet spot between top-funnel engagement and bottom-funnel conversion across digital environments could meet the needs these insights imply. Investing in opportunities like creator communities, shoppable products like Shops, Stories and Reels, features like Product Tags, and consumer experiences that are engaging and shoppable (Live Shopping being a great example) are recommended.

Anticipation & Occasion

The shopping discount event – the ‘sale’ – is perhaps the most timeless tactic for merchants and is also the one true unifying element for Q4 across the whole world. During Q4, you’ll find sales, wherever you are.

This is certainly the case in the UAE, where Mega Sales Moments are a year-round phenomenon. Almost 79% of holiday shoppers, surveyed in the UAE, bought something during an MSD event in 2020.[6]

Our data suggest that behind the continued popularity of Black Friday, White Friday, Prime Day and others, is a valuable sense of occasion and anticipation for people. A set of moments to put in the calendar; a reminder of the season to come. They offer a sense of ‘event’ to look forward to – the size of which creates excitement, anticipation, and the motivation for shoppers to get serious about their wishlists.

A crucial element driving the prominence of Mega Sales Moments is the appetite of shoppers for businesses or brands from markets other than their own – or cross-border shopping, as it’s known. Today’s consumers have access to products from anywhere, and businesses can reach consumers far from home thanks to cross-border. It’s truly a realization of the promise of a global, digital marketplace.

Cross-border shopping, prompted by the arrival of a Mega Sales Moment, offers shoppers outside of a country a glimpse into that country’s vast market – where price-points can be highly competitive. Equally, these moments allow shoppers more access, more choice to products than may be available at other times. Catalysed by these moments, cross-border shopping is a trend where the world’s shoppers seem to be moving faster than the world’s businesses: 9 out of 10 shoppers we spoke to would consider purchasing a product shipped from abroad[7].

Using cross-border tools across the Facebook family of apps gives businesses access to a potential customer pool of billions of shoppers. And businesses optimizing their reach, but also their relevance, through personalised creative and interest-based targeting, can be set up for Mega Sales Moment success. Marketers are also advised to leverage Facebook’s measurement solutions to ‘test & learn’ in advance of the big moments, to optimize their marketing strategy during those intense Mega Sales Moment peaks.

Inspiration & Spontaneity

We know people have traditionally gone online to find things they knew they wanted – right down to the brand or even model. But today, we see evidence of digital experiences located earlier in the purchase cycle. For example, shoppers knowing they’re in the market for a fashion purchase, but not knowing what fashion item in particular. More than a third of all Mega Sales Moment shoppers we polled were shopping online with an understanding of the category, but not knowing the specific item in that category[8]. Shopping with a discovery mindset and waiting for that moment of inspiration.

Today, abundance of choice is the challenge digital discovery solves for, with advanced curation and machine learning technologies driving personalised discovery at a global scale. We know the act of finding those ‘just right for me’ items amongst the Internet’s ocean of options is something people appreciate: 76% of UAE shoppers surveyed agreed ‘I enjoyed discovering items I wasn’t actively looking for’[9].

But this is not solely a story of serendipity and spontaneity – there’s a more functional benefit to inspiration too, specific to gifting. Half of all Holiday shoppers we polled said they experience difficulty knowing what to buy for others, highlighting the necessity for discovery aids[10]. And 5 in 10 consumers surveyed said they used at least one of Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram for discovery this last Holiday season[11].

Inspiration in marketing is both a common goal for brands and commonly difficult to attain. But versus the marketing options of the past, brands today have more means of bringing their creativity to life, and more tools to inspire their customers, than ever before. We know the Holiday season is a time for inspiration more generally, so experimenting with innovative tools like Stories or Reels, AR tools or creator communities, gives brands the opportunity to succeed.

So, for the business of today, our message is simple: respect the timeless human needs of the people you’re trying to reach. Take an open mind to the new context and opportunity for reaching them. Leverage technology as an enabler to scale and better connect with your audience at the human level, remember that people will always shop as people first.

For more information about Holiday Marketing Guide and the Discovery Commerce, visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/c/discovery-commerce

Tune into Campaign’s ‘On The Record’ Podcast – Timeless trends: shopper insights for the festive season 


[1] Source:”Unboxing Singles’ Day” study by Crowd DNA (Facebook-commissioned online survey of 10,999 Mega Sales Shoppers aged 18-64 in BR, CA, CN, ES, ID, MX, TH, TR, US, UK, VN), Nov 2020. Qualifying respondents made an online purchase at least once a month and used any social media channel at least once a week.

[2] Source: “Facebook Seasonal Holidays Study” by YouGov (Facebook-commissioned online study of 49,563 people aged 18+ across 32 markets: AE, AR, AU, BR, CA, CL, CO, CZ, DE, DK, ES, HK, ID, IT, FR, JP, KR, MY, MX, NL, PH, PL, SG, TH, TR, TW, RU, SE, UK, US, VN, ZA). Minimum N=1500 per market. 9 Dec to 24 Dec 2020.

[3] Source: “Unboxing Singles’ Day” study by Crowd DNA (Facebook-commissioned online survey of 10,999 Mega Sales Shoppers aged 18-64 in BR, CA, CN, ES, ID, MX, TH, TR, US, UK, VN), Nov 2020. Qualifying respondents made an online purchase at least once a month and used any social media channel at least once a week.

[4]  Source: “Unboxing Singles’ Day” study by Crowd DNA (Facebook-commissioned online survey of 10,999 Mega Sales Shoppers aged 18-64 in BR, CA, CN, ES, ID, MX, TH, TR, US, UK, VN), Nov 2020. Qualifying respondents made an online purchase at least once a month and used any social media channel at least once a week.

[5] Source: “Facebook Seasonal Holidays Study” by YouGov (Facebook-commissioned online study of 49,563 people aged 18+ across 32 markets: AE, AR, AU, BR, CA, CL, CO, CZ, DE, DK, ES, HK, ID, IT, FR, JP, KR, MY, MX, NL, PH, PL, SG, TH, TR, TW, RU, SE, UK, US, VN, ZA). Minimum N=1500 per market. 9 Dec to 24 Dec 2020.

[6]  Source: “Facebook Seasonal Holidays Study” by YouGov (Facebook-commissioned online study of 49,563 people aged 18+ across 32 markets: AE, AR, AU, BR, CA, CL, CO, CZ, DE, DK, ES, HK, ID, IT, FR, JP, KR, MY, MX, NL, PH, PL, SG, TH, TR, TW, RU, SE, UK, US, VN, ZA). Minimum N=1500 per market. 9 Dec to 24 Dec 2020.

[7] Source: “Unboxing Singles’ Day” study by Crowd DNA (Facebook-commissioned online survey of 10,999 Mega Sales Shoppers aged 18-64 in BR, CA, CN, ES, ID, MX, TH, TR, US, UK, VN), Nov 2020. Qualifying respondents made an online purchase at least once a month and used any social media channel at least once a week.

[8]   Source: “Unboxing Singles’ Day” study by Crowd DNA (Facebook-commissioned online survey of 10,999 Mega Sales Shoppers aged 18-64 in BR, CA, CN, ES, ID, MX, TH, TR, US, UK, VN), Nov 2020. Qualifying respondents made an online purchase at least once a month and used any social media channel at least once a week.

[9]   Source: “Facebook Seasonal Holidays Study” by YouGov (Facebook-commissioned online study of 49,563 people aged 18+ across 32 markets: AE, AR, AU, BR, CA, CL, CO, CZ, DE, DK, ES, HK, ID, IT, FR, JP, KR, MY, MX, NL, PH, PL, SG, TH, TR, TW, RU, SE, UK, US, VN, ZA). Minimum N=1500 per market. 9 Dec to 24 Dec 2020.

[10]   Source: “Facebook Seasonal Holidays Study” by YouGov (Facebook-commissioned online study of 49,563 people aged 18+ across 32 markets: AE, AR, AU, BR, CA, CL, CO, CZ, DE, DK, ES, HK, ID, IT, FR, JP, KR, MY, MX, NL, PH, PL, SG, TH, TR, TW, RU, SE, UK, US, VN, ZA). Minimum N=1500 per market. 9 Dec to 24 Dec 2020.

[11]   Source: “Unboxing Singles’ Day” study by Crowd DNA (Facebook-commissioned online survey of 10,999 Mega Sales Shoppers aged 18-64 in BR, CA, CN, ES, ID, MX, TH, TR, US, UK, VN), Nov 2020. Qualifying respondents made an online purchase at least once a month and used any social media channel at least once a week.

Comments