Welcome to the 2023 holiday shopping season! I know – it’s the middle of summer. But the middle of summer is the start of the holiday shopping season, believe it or not. So, it’s about time to check out the big holiday trends for the 2023 shopping season.
Historically, consumers have rolled right from back-to-school spending into Halloween and winter shopping. See… look at this Pinterest interest calendar.
This year, with inflation bumming everybody out 😡 holiday shopping will likely start even earlier this year than it did last year (which was October-ish).
The trends shaping consumer behavior are changing. As brands and marketers gear up for a competitive season, it’s crucial to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to the evolving landscape.
We can read the tea leaves, so to speak, to get a good idea of how the back-to-school trends we’ve seen this year will inform holiday spending AND your holiday marketing.
So, let’s dive in and unpack the nitty-gritty consumer trends that’ll help you rock your year-end influencer marketing game like never before.
1. Inflation Woes: The Great Spending Divide
Okay, folks, here’s the deal. Inflation is playing its part in creating a divided shopping scene. People with deeper pockets are spending more cash to offset those pesky higher prices. On the flip side, those with tighter budgets are cutting back… because of higher prices.
This means shoppers are starting their gift hunts earlier in the season and stretching them over a longer period, flipping Black Friday into more of a mega deal day than the ultimate shopping kick-off.
Oh, we can’t overlook the “R” word? Yep, there’s a chance a recession might join the holiday party this year – the recession is an on-again, off-again narrative at this point. 🎉 Even still, folks are on the hunt for bargains, even willing to switch up their loyalty for a killer deal.
Action Plan: Offer Smart Deals and Value-Packed Bundles
- Collaborate with influencers to promote your big sales, irresistible deals, and exclusive bundles that provide genuine value to budget-conscious shoppers.
- Roll out a mix of promotions that start long before and last way beyond Black Friday, capturing the extended shopping window. Make sure to communicate these extended offers through influencer partnerships and brand ambassadorships.
- Leverage influencers to emphasize the value and savings that customers will enjoy, helping to offset the impact of rising prices.
2. Fatigue: Let’s Talk Exhaustion
Crisis fatigue. Financial fatigue. Fatigue fatigue. Raise your hand if you’re tired. 🙌🏽 Like, really… friggin’ tired.
The “everything everywhere all at once” vibe? Over it. Weariness has left consumers feeling exhausted and disengaged.
While fatigue certainly sucks as a holiday trend, it’s likely one that will impact the way you market and get your message out this year. Why? Because this fatigue is contributing to a decline in the appetite for old-school sponsored posts. So, if your higher-ups are still demanding creators with heavily curated feeds and color aesthetics…
(Sigh) Nudge them into 2023.
As consumers seek authentic and meaningful interactions with content creators, community leaders, and brands they’re rolling their eyes at the one-off sales pitches masked as lifestyle posts from social media creators.
Is influencer marketing dead then? I promise you, people have been asking that question for years, and the answer is always “No, the industry is maturing and growing.”
But to counteract message fatigue, brands, and marketers have to revamp how they see influencer activations and shift their focus from peddling their wares to building out interconnected marketing campaigns across different channels that can cut through the noise to offer genuine value and relatability.
In other words, you need your content to resonate and connect with your audience. And influencers are experts at knowing how to connect with their audience.
Action Plan: Create Authentic and Uplifting Content
- Craft influencer campaigns that focus on positivity, self-care, and mental well-being; prioritize pushing content that will resonate with weary consumers.
- Encourage influencers to share personal stories and experiences that inspire and uplift, establishing a genuine emotional connection.
- Team up with content creators who can authentically connect with their audiences and provide a refreshing break from the chaos. One of our all-time favorite creators is Trey Kennedy – someone who is a MASTER at short skits. Check out the content he created for [yellow tail’s] Fresh Twist campaign (that was us, btw) – it’s hilarious, feel-good content.
3. Phygital Experiences: Where Online Meets Offline
Hold on to your hats – the age of “phygital” is upon us. I actually quite like that word, though each time I say it, I cringe just a little. But… yeah, phygital – the blurring of the line between physical and digital experiences.
Apps are the magic glue weaving together online and offline shopping adventures. People aren’t just browsing online; they’re using their online experiences to fuel their in-store shenanigans. This is true across generations, and surprisingly, it’s also true of younger generations as well, even those who are most likely to shop online.
According to GWI, 52 percent of US Gen Z consumers prefer to shop online, while 48 percent prefer to shop in-store. They’re basically heading into the store to check out goodies they spotted on their social feeds.
Action Plan: Merge Digital and In-Store Experiences
- Partner with influencers to create content that bridges the gap between online discovery and in-store exploration, encouraging shoppers to experience products firsthand.
- Highlight products in influencer content that are available both online and in physical stores, showcasing the convenience of cross-channel shopping.
- Collaborate with influencers to promote in-store events, pop-up shops, or exclusive offers, driving traffic to brick-and-mortar locations.
4. Social Media Ads: Your Holiday Inspiration Hub
Psst! Social media ads are where it’s at. About half of shoppers are more likely to hit up a brand’s website after seeing a social media ad. That’s way more than those who visit a brand’s website after receiving an email. So, team up with influencers and get your holiday inspo out there at the perfect moment.
Action Plan: Make Your Social Media Campaigns Irresistible
- Repurpose the coolest influencer content (assuming you have the content rights, of course) as social media ads that feature products and promotions that resonate with their followers.
- Leverage influencer stories, reels, and posts to showcase the value, benefits, and must-have nature of your holiday offerings.
- Utilize influencers’ storytelling abilities to create narratives that inspire action and evoke emotion, prompting viewers to visit your website or store.
5. Surges in Resale Shopping: Sustainability Rocks
While 1 in 5 back-to-school shoppers are making do with last year’s stuff, resale shopping is expected to have its time in the spotlight this holiday season. More than 1 in 6 holiday gifts (around 17 percent) will be second-hand goodies. Bonus: That’s 32 billion pounds of landfill waste avoided by some clever thrifters! Yep, folks are all about snagging pre-loved treasures and saying no to waste.
Action Plan: Champion Sustainability and Second-Hand Finds
- Collaborate with influencers who align with eco-friendly values and promote the concept of gifting and receiving pre-loved items.
- Showcase the quality and uniqueness of resale products through influencer-generated content, highlighting the sustainability angle.
- Create influencer campaigns that celebrate the circular economy and position your brand as a champion of conscious consumption.
6. Deal-Seeking Behavior: The Price Tag Priority
According to Inc., 60 percent of Gen-Zers say that they can (and will) replicate any fashion trend cheaply. Show us the way, oh sensei. Perhaps the most definitive of the holiday trends this year is this one: bargain hunting is the new black.
Last year, better pricing was the top reason consumers switched brands, as economic conditions prompted a shift away from YOLOing and towards more price-sensitive shopping. Consumers are picking brands based on deals and promotions rather than leaning harder into brand loyalty. Brace yourselves for a deal-driven season, and make sure your influencer content sings the value song loud and clear.
Action Plan: Highlight Deals and Exclusive Offers
- Develop influencer content that focuses on the cost-saving aspects of your products, emphasizing the value and benefits of purchasing.
- And speaking of value, play it up. This could be in the form of getting discounts on subsequent products, a rewards program that provides freebies, the swiss-army-knife-type utility of your product, or any number of bonuses that will help you convey the benefits and value of your products.
- Collaborate with influencers to create comparison content that demonstrates the savings customers can enjoy by choosing your brand over competitors. Just don’t mention your competitors.
7. Buy Now Pay Later vs Credit Cards: The Payment Tango
There’s also a bit of a payment revolution happening. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is making waves as consumers try to minimize making purchases with high-interest credit cards.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. BNPL defaults are up among the younger crowd, and companies are nudging the rising costs of funding purchases onto consumers. Add to that that with defaults being more likely as people try to manage the cost-of-living crisis, it’s harder for consumers to get approved for BNPL purchases now than it was a year ago.
Action Plan: Provide Flexible Payment Options
- Incorporate Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) messaging in influencer campaigns, highlighting the convenience and flexibility of this payment method.
- Work with influencers to educate consumers about the benefits of BNPL and address common concerns or misconceptions.
- Promote in-store payment alternatives through influencer content, showcasing how shoppers can seamlessly make purchases on their terms.
8. Inspire, Engage, and Personalize: The VIP Treatment
Another big one holiday trend this year? Personalization.
Personalization is the name of the game. People want to feel seen, heard, and understood. Brands, this is where you shine. Use that customer data to craft tailored experiences that make your shoppers feel like the ultimate VIPs. And guess what? Influencers can totally help you nail this game.
Action Plan: Tailor Experiences and Connect on a Personal Level
- Collaborate with influencers who can authentically represent your brand and engage with their audience in a personalized manner.
- Leverage influencer insights to craft tailored influencer marketing campaigns that cater to specific customer preferences and needs.
- Encourage influencers to share personal testimonials and experiences with your products, establishing a relatable and authentic connection.
9. The Focus on Ease: Smooth Sailing Shopping
Okay, let’s chat about returns. They’re like the unsung heroes of the shopping universe. A hassle-free return process, crystal-clear policies, and top-notch customer support are golden tickets to customer satisfaction. Heads-up, though: 93 percent of shoppers check the return policy before buying, and 81 percent have ghosted a brand 👻 after a bad return experience.
Action Plan: Streamline Return Policies and Customer Support
- Partner with influencers to create content that educates shoppers about your hassle-free return process, emphasizing clarity and ease.
- Highlight customer success stories and positive return experiences through influencer testimonials, showcasing your commitment to customer satisfaction.
- Collaborate with influencers to provide step-by-step guides on how to initiate returns and utilize customer support, ensuring a seamless and stress-free experience.
10. Unified Shopping Experiences: Get Omni-Savvy
Drumroll, please – it’s time for the omnichannel extravaganza! Social media’s role is growing like wildfire. And get this: social media traffic referrals shot up 27 percent in the first quarter of 2023. The key? Influential content creators who understand the digital-physical blend and can guide shoppers through a seamless buying journey.
Action Plan: Create Cohesive Omnichannel Journeys
- Develop influencer campaigns that seamlessly guide shoppers through the entire buying journey, from initial discovery on social media to in-store or online checkout.
- Encourage influencers to showcase products both online and in physical stores, leveraging their influence to drive traffic to various touchpoints.
- Collaborate with influencers to promote omnichannel experiences, such as exclusive online offers redeemable in-store or vice versa, encouraging a holistic shopping approach.
Final Thought on This Year’s Holiday Trends
So, there you have it, the lowdown on the holiday trends shaking up the 2023 holiday shopping season and a handy little playbook of actionable strategies. Buckle up, get creative, and let’s make this holiday season a shopping extravaganza to remember! 🛍️
About the Author
Sorilbran Stone | Content Strategist
I serve as the resident content strategist and the official Head of Content Marketing at The Shelf. Marketing is my happy place. I’m as happy looking at analytics as I am actually creating a thing. I focus a lot on dreaming up and implementing the best ways to create, publish, and distribute content that will builds our brand and gets our readers to do a thing