Holiday Readiness Guide: Strategies to Prepare Omni-channel tactics to maximize impact and results during HSS 2015

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1 Market Track Perspective TM Holiday Readiness Guide: Strategies to Prepare Omni-channel tactics to maximize impact and results during HSS 2015 Market Track s Holiday Readiness Guide In this issue of Market Track Perspectives, we will outline the resources and processes necessary for retailers and manufacturers to prepare a successful advertising, promotional, and pricing plan for the 2015 Holiday Shopping Season. Today s holiday sales numbers are a testament to a resilient industry that knows what their customers want, when they want it, and how they want to get it, Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation, was quoted after holiday 2014 retail sales came in right at the projected $602 billion, a 4% increase year over year. Shay s comment points to the industry embracing the habits of the always on shopper. Retailers from every channel leveraged all points of advertising influence to try to win holiday shopping carts from daily online price changes, to offering early season specials online, to communicating with shoppers on social media. The improved understanding of when, where, and how to engage holiday shoppers bodes well for the industry overall from a sales perspective, but it also means that retailers and manufacturers will be facing an increasingly competitive environment this coming holiday season. The industry has moved past questions like, Did my competitor advertise in social media this holiday? or, When did my competition execute their Black Friday discounts online? These questions have been replaced with trying to understand the types of messages competitors are sending to shoppers in social media, how often and at what depth they are discounting online, and what actions those strategies are intended to drive among holiday shoppers. In this issue of Market Track Perspectives, we will help you evaluate how ready you are for the upcoming Holiday Shopping Season (HSS) Do you have the right resources in place to assess competitive advertising, promotional, and pricing activity? Are the right processes established to react quickly to competitive pressures? Can you identify today the potential risk areas you may encounter come November? This is your 2015 Holiday Readiness Guide. Top Trends from 2014 Holiday Shopping Season: More Black Friday events pulled forward, creating less incentive for shoppers to go to stores on Friday Deal complexity made it challenging for shoppers to find best deals/ competitors to match deals Retailers prioritized convenience, offering deals however, whenever and wherever Cross-channel competition increased, with all trade classes offering traffic driving categories such as electronics and small appliances Digital advertising pushed the shop early message Holiday circulars showcased specific manufacturer and brand shops, showing more supplier involvement in holiday ad planning

2 Pre-November Holiday-Themed Ads, 2014 TV, Radio, Online Video, Online Display Source: Competitrack s Featured Holiday data Figure 1: Shoppers saw the first holiday advertising in early September through TV advertising Kmart promoted their layaway program and Macy s got a jump start on holiday messaging in a TV spot showcasing jewelry in September Make holiday shoppers consider you early Though the majority of holiday shopping takes place during November and December, a well-timed advertisement run weeks or even months before the start of the season will help keep your store or brand at the top of shoppers minds. Figure 1 uses Competitrack s Featured Holiday data to identify pre-november holiday-themed ads across various broadcast and digital media, and shows that the first holiday TV advertisements reached shoppers as early as September last year. This was the first step in gaining shoppers consideration in their purchase cycle, and an earlier start to the season. When do you plan to engage shoppers with your first holiday advertisement? Do you have the resources in place to track when your competition began their holiday ad campaigns in 2014? Is your message at risk of being preempted? Shoppers are exposed to thousands of advertisements throughout the HSS. Giving them incentive to consider shopping your store or buying your brand before the season starts will set you up early for success. The importance of advertising at the right times during the holiday shopping season applies not only to the season as a whole, but also during each event throughout the season. Pre-Black Friday, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Christmas, and After-Christmas sales are all events within the larger holiday shopping season. How you advertise the details of each event from the use of themes, to store openings and hours can impact your ability to drive traffic throughout the season. Figure 2 shows the In-Store Event section of Market Track s Black November Scorecard, which examines attributes of select Figure 2: Stores opened for Black Friday event earlier than ever before 2 Market Track Perspective TM

3 Mock Purchase Cycle Walmart Holiday (Select Examples) Figure 3: Advertising influence on a Walmart holiday shopper in 2014 Source: Competitrack and Market Track Data retailers in-store events and scores them according to areas of opportunity and strength. This can be used as a competitive SWOT analysis for planning advertising for the Black Friday 2015 in-store event. In Figure 2, we see Kmart s relative strength was the timing of their deals (6am Thanksgiving opening) and the length of their availability (good through 3am the following morning). Comparatively, Toys R Us showed a relative strength in appealing to family and community with a Toys for Tots philanthropic ad on their Black Friday circular cover. Toys R Us approach to family and community also provided an example of a convenience offer that many retailers leveraged during HSS 2014, adding differentiated value on top of their discounts and promotional offers. Monitoring ALL channels of advertising is key We introduced Market Track s Advertising Influence Model (AIM) in our May 2015 Perspective to put a framework around how advertisers should leverage different media to communicate with various shopper segments throughout their purchase cycle. This process should help you understand how messages are being used at each phase of the purchase cycle: Awareness, Consideration, Preference and Purchase. In Figure 3, we examined when and how Walmart advertised to holiday shoppers to kick-off their 2014 HSS ad campaign. Beginning on 10/19, Walmart advertised a Fall for the Holidays sweepstakes in an online display ad, which gave shoppers an opportunity to win a $100 gift card. Between 10/29 and 11/2, they advertised unbeatable prices in ads on TV, in an online video, and in their print circular. They Walmart advertised a gift card offer to kick-off HSS In our Shopper Insight Survey, we found that when using a gift card, 82% of shoppers claim their purchase exceeds the amount of the gift card concluded their kick-off with a digital ad campaign beginning on their website and in an opt-in on 11/1, letting shoppers know that their Early Bird Online Specials were immediately available. They reinforced that messaging on 11/7 by posting on both Facebook and Twitter. Using Market Track s AIM framework, we saw that Walmart raised awareness in late October with a sweepstakes offer, The Power of Market Intelligence 3

4 Omni-channel Ad Calendar, Mass Channel, Black Friday Week 2014 Figure 4: Omni-channel advertising spiked the week of Thanksgiving 2014 confirmed that their holiday prices would not be beat, and alerted shoppers that they did not have to wait for deals rather, they could go online for Early Bird Specials the moment the calendar turned to November. This certainly put them in position to take some demand out of the market early in the season. Do you have the resources in place today to track all the channels through which your competition will be engaging with shoppers? What makes the HSS such a difficult period for advertisers to corral is that there are really no off days. Different shopper segments will complete their purchases at different times during November and December, requiring consistent, daily advertising engagement. Additionally, it is a guarantee that every day during HSS some competitor in the market will communicate an advertisement or promotional offer to shoppers. The question is: Is it the right message at the right time for their target shopper? Market Track s omni-channel ad calendar, shown in Figure 4, alerts clients each day to which media their competition is using, and in what volume. Figure 4 focuses specifically on broadcast, social, and print promotions run on the week of Black Friday With the exception of Meijer, every Mass channel retailer advertised in at least one media channel per day during Black Friday week Know the what behind your competition s holiday advertising While understanding the timing of your competitor s holiday advertisements, and the channels through which they are advertising is important, there is more to winning their purchase. A deeper view of competitive advertising is required to position yourself for success during HSS. You 57% of shoppers will view TV commercials and 29% will turn to social media before planning their next shopping trip, according to the results of our survey need to know what their message is, and what actions they are trying to drive among holiday shoppers. In Figure 5, we analyzed what share of ad spend Electronics retailers dedicated to drive different points of the 2014 holiday shopper s purchase cycle. Over 60% of ad spend by Electronics retailers during HSS 2014 delivered a Consideration message to shoppers, driven exclusively by Best Buy, as seen in Figure 5. A Consideration message lets shoppers know that a retailer 4 Market Track Perspective TM

5 is stocking certain brands and products, without sharing any product attributes, promotions, or price points. Best Buy wanted shoppers to consider them as a destination for the categories they advertised. Sears and hhgregg allocated their ad spend to Preference and Purchase, by comparison. Preference messages advertise specific advantages, like product attributes, that 60% of ad spend by Electronics retailers during HSS 2014 was geared to drive Consideration among shoppers differentiate the advertiser from the competition. Purchase messaging provides a specific promotional offer on a product to drive action. As the calendar drew closer to Black Friday, and shoppers presumably inched closer to making their gift purchases, both Sears and hhgregg shifted their spend from Preference to Purchase to match the progression of the holiday shopper s purchase cycle. The second aspect to understanding the what behind your competition s holiday advertising is understanding the mix of categories, brands, and products they are promoting in their holiday sales. HSS is a unique time for all retail channels in that it is the one time of year during which all channels blur. For instance, Kohl s has taken to promoting categories holiday shoppers would expect to see in a Best Buy or Target Black Friday circular, such as Flat Panel TVs and Video Gaming categories. Competition expands during HSS, making it especially important for retailers to monitor who is promoting what, and identify cross-channel competitive promotions. Figure 6 shows Market Track s competitive category allocation analysis for the Men s Apparel and Jewelry categories in Black Friday 2014 circulars. Interestingly, Figure 5: The Electronics channel pushed Consideration message during November 2014 Source: Competitrack WE 11/2/14-11/30/14; TV Spend reflects national TV buys (Network, National Cable, Syndicated) and Spot TV spending. Spot TV spending includes data from 3 markets. Note: TV Spend only reflects ads with Holiday/Christmas and Black Friday/Thanksgiving messaging The Power of Market Intelligence 5

6 Men s Apparel Share of Retailer s Total Black Friday 2014 Ads Jewelry Share of Retailer s Total Black Friday 2014 Ads Source: Market Track FeatureVision - Black Friday Ads running November 25-28, 2014 Figure 6: Department stores saw cross-channel competition from Sporting, Mass Sporting Goods retailers Gander Mountain and Dick s Sporting Goods allocated a larger share of their Black Friday circulars to Men s Apparel than did Department channel retailers Macy s and Kohl s. And though they allocated a much smaller share of their Black Friday circulars than the Department and Mass channels, Sporting Goods stores even featured Jewelry products during HSS Daily price changes require vigilance For shoppers, there is no more polarizing factor than price when it comes to deciding where to shop and what to buy during HSS. In our recent Shopper Insight Series Perspective, we shared that 69% of shoppers, regardless of category, will switch brands if a lower price is available, and 77% will switch stores. Shopper loyalty is limited during the ten months leading up to HSS during HSS, it is logical to assume that even your most loyal shoppers are at risk of switching given the wide availability of promotional discounts across all retail channels. Considering price is the top factor impacting purchase decisions for shoppers, having daily visibility into competitive prices during HSS will allow you to react and alter course where necessary. Using Market Track s PriceVision data, we found that online pricing strategies across different retailers varied drastically, and price changes occurred daily through HSS Figure 7 shows the percentage of products that changed price both the percentage that increased and decreased day by day throughout November The products examined were taken from the front, back, and select interior pages of each retailer s respective Black Friday circular. This was to ensure that the products we examined were identified Cross-channel competition heats up during holiday, with retailers across all trade classes offering traffic driving categories such as electronics and small appliances by retailers themselves as their top Black Friday deals for Looking at Figure 7, we see that Best Buy, hhgregg and Sears used very different online pricing strategies leading up to Black Friday. Before Black Friday, Best Buy changed price on a very small percentage of products each day, as did hhgregg. This was due in large part to both retailers offering their Black Friday online price for select 6 Market Track Perspective TM

7 Source: Market Track PriceVision Data Figure 7: Select retailers ran Black Friday pricing throughout November online products throughout the month of November. Conversely, Sears changed price on more than 40% of the products in the basket we examined on 11/2, over 30% on 11/9, and over 20% on 11/11, 11/16, and 11/23. The changes fluctuated between price increases and decreases, with many of the increases occurring in the middle of November, after early season specials but before Black Friday. With pricing being more volatile, and strategies more varied than during any other time of year, retailers and manufacturers must be able to track their competitor s pricing daily throughout HSS to alert them of price changes, and allow them to react quickly. Find out how to put the right resources and insights in place for a successful HSS on the next page. About Market Track Market Track is a market intelligence firm dedicated to increasing our customers returns on their promotional investments and providing real-time visibility into e-commerce pricing. We support our 850+ retail, manufacturer and agency clients through monitoring and analyzing over 200 U.S. and Canadian markets for every channel of trade, 1 billion buy pages from 3,000 global merchants, and 1,700 media channels enabling dynamic decision making by turning data into actionable insights. Learn More For more insight into the entire promotional landscape or an analysis of your digital and print strategies, call Market Track at or Market Track. All rights reserved.

8 Implementation: Translating tactics into meaningful strategy change Our analysis was designed to provide a roadmap for retailers and manufacturers to put themselves in the best position to have a successful HSS On their own, the insights we shared throughout this piece will not improve your chances of winning shoppers or meeting your holiday sales targets. In order for these findings to be meaningful, you need to ensure you have the process, resources, and visibility in place to monitor the various competitive pain-points that are sure to impact your performance this November and December. Below is a list of the most important steps retailers and manufacturers must take to strategically plan for HSS 2015, and set themselves up for success: Your HSS advertising plan should begin today If a retailer wanted to be first to market with their HSS advertising in 2014, their first ad would have had to hit shoppers in mid-september. That is almost a full two months prior to the traditional November 1 start of HSS. Implementing your ad planning for HSS today will ensure you are prepared for any early competitive holiday messages. What you need: Retailers and manufacturers need a process and resources in place to alert them in-the-moment of any holiday-themed ads hitting shoppers across all media types. Market Track monitors all advertising media available to shoppers, and identifies featured holidays within each advertisement. This data is available within days of an advertisement s first run, allowing clients to react quickly to changing market conditions, such as an early competitive holiday advertisement. Take an analytical approach to timing HSS ad campaign, sales events You could make any number of guesses as to when you will see the first competitive holiday promotions, or when your competitors doors will open to Black Friday shoppers this year. Our suggestion? Avoid the guesswork this year by taking a more analytical approach to when you should time your first HSS promotions, sale events, discount periods, and the like. What you need: An ad calendar for each of your cross-channel competitors that includes the days during HSS 2014 on which a promotion was run, and the media type in which it ran. You need this today to confirm that the scheduled dates of your HSS 2015 promotions in particular, the dates of your weekly door busters will not be preempted based on when your competitors promoted in years past. Market Track s Omni- Channel Ad Calendar summarizes competitive ad placements by ad date and media type for up to the past three HSS periods. Confirm you are engaging shoppers through the right channels How detrimental will it be if a competitor promotes the same product as you at a much lower price, and you did not catch it because they ran the promotion only in new media? To understand all the factors that are impacting your holiday sales results, you cannot afford to have any blind spots when it comes to assessing your competitors ad placements. What you need: Visibility into all promotional media channels so that your competitors cannot promote without you knowing. Additionally, you need the ability to quickly interpret the messaging they included in each omni-channel ad so you can respond strategically. Market Track s digital, broadcast, and print promotional data is collected continuously through the holiday shopping season, and ad themes, promotion types, and creatives are aggregated into one reporting suite. Ensure your advertisements are driving the right message and prompting the right actions $ What is the goal of your holiday ad plan? Are your TV ads intended to drive awareness of your sales events? Push specific product promotions to drive purchase? What actions are your competitor s ads driving? Understanding the impact of your ad messaging on a holiday shopper s purchase cycle, and how it compares to your competition, can help you plan the message you want to deliver through different media channels during the upcoming HSS. What you need: A process for measuring the impact of your ad messaging on holiday shoppers versus your competition. This requires the ability to overlay shopper insights with competitive advertising data. Market Track s AIM competitive analyses tags each advertisement with the stage in a shopper s purchase cycle it influences most. In aggregate, this data can tell you whether your competition focused the majority of their HSS on driving awareness of, consideration of, preference for, or purchase of their store, brand, product, or service. 8 Market Track Perspective TM

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