Lessons From the Most Distinct Q4 in the Modern Commerce

This year – more than any that has come before it – we’re experiencing a battlezone in the final quarter of the year. Even the most tried and true marketers have realized that winning this period is about shifting your mindset completely, especially in the commerce space which has exploded over the past nine months.

To get a pulse on where clients stood in terms of commerce readiness and capabilities, Publicis Commerce conducted an analysis across clients across sectors. From this analysis, we walked away with a list of principles and learnings that can help companies maximize their commerce strategy for the remainder of this year and into 2021. Here are some ways brands can capture the commerce momentum for long-term success:

Create Moments of Celebration

‘End of year’ definitely has a festive connotation for all involved. Think Diwali, Cyber Weekend, Christmas and more, but it may be time to add Single’s Day to the official Holiday list. Emarketer research shows that consumers, across all age ranges worldwide, report getting a deal as main reason they make a Holiday season purchase. They just might be getting more joy out of buying the right product, the right way, at the right price over gifting it. Black Friday and Cyber Monday rank #1 and #2 respectively when it comes to number of deals in the Holiday season, so that’s your opportunity to close. The Cyber 5, where 21% of the less than $300 that most (59% according to eMarketer) US adults plan on spending on gifts this year is won in July and August. Consideration built in Q3 is converted with quick discovery and conversion tactics closer to prime time. Adding to that, Episerver research shows that holiday shopping starts 115 days out in Europe, so early action is key, and rarely wrong.

Appeal to Broader Celebratory Mindset

Christmas and New Year’s messaging shifts to broad cultural themes making hard sell and deal communication secondary at best. But don’t worry, one thing most marketers don’t realize is that, the remaining less publicized days are a major opportunity. Using the UK national statistics as a guide, every year, without fail the last 3 months of the year rank in the top 5 retails sales months. My hypothesis on this phenomenon is best explained by how I approach an airport (when I could travel). No matter time of day or point in a fad diet I may be on, when I enter an airport I can eat McDonald’s. All discipline goes out the door, I am off the grid and no one is counting calories. Q4 consumer spend is pretty similar. With the holidays, we tend to see marketers take risks, indulge a bit more and be more generous as the end of the year is in sight – resulting in about 90 days of a gradually increasing YOLO mentality. Finding the right gift, grabbing a good deal and needing a quick solution for those five minutes you can squeeze shopping into while not having to check on that thing you’re baking, are great moments for marketers to not have to fight for expensive search terms, strategic placements or valuable space in people’s minds. Consider it the license to throw your own mini brand occasions or solution kits for days when your brand can be a solution and people are more open minded.

Broaden the Spirit of Gifting

There is also great opportunity in reframing the definition of gifting - especially if you are in the CPG category. Think: self-gifting - a moment of experimenting with your look, indulging in self-care or just having carbs. It can make for quite the opportunity for the right brand to offer something worth trying. Suddenly, weekly groceries, impulse categories and retail media can tap into holiday spend from many more angles and your ecommerce team will officially have joined the marketing mainstream. People may not gift one another mac and cheese for the Holidays, but I can’t think of a greater gift to myself after a week of ugly sweaters and frigid weather.

In the end, what will truly drive success in this battlezone is making sure your company is equipped to bring a commerce mindset across every facet of its end-of-year actions. This starts with ensuring every stakeholder and player in your commerce stack thinks about the consumer’s overall mindset balancing festivity and responsibility, opportunities to drive trial at a time of unique open-mindedness and how your product can create its own battles. If you look at the drivers of purchase from a different angle, you have the opportunity to grab big wins across the entire quarter and beyond.