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Strategies, research, industry trends — your pulse on the marketplace
Strategies, research, industry trends — your pulse on the marketplace

When you think of paper plates, eye concealer, plastic forks, and compact foundation, do you think of the holiday season? Hopefully not. But if you’re in the health, beauty, or consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, you may want to.

While many holiday shoppers are buying gifts for family and friends, there are some that are shopping for themselves. And that’s no more apparent than with consumers who are hosting and attending holiday parties.

The holiday party season kicks off with Halloween and extends past New Year’s Day. Whether throwing a party or attending a few, preparation is key. In advance of the season’s festivities, consumers are stocking up on paper goods and beauty products, so they can put their best foot forward during the holidays.

The retail industry tends to market to shoppers who are buying gifts, but if you sell beauty or CPG products, you should consider talking to this unique set of party hosts and attendees. We tracked online shopping behavior during the 2016 holiday shopping season across seven product categories on 5,000-plus brand and retailer websites, and our results in the beauty and CPG categories led us to identify this distinct audience. Here are four tips on how you can reach them with your holiday campaigns.


1. Prepare for a long holiday shopping season

In both the CPG and beauty categories, online traffic starts to increase before Halloween and continues all the way through January. The beauty category sees its final spike right after Christmas — shoppers are likely getting the finishing touches for their New Year’s Eve looks. Similarly, the final spike for CPG is after January 1st, right before college football championships (and watch parties) kick off.

For marketers and advertisers, this means planning for an extended promotional season. Unlike other categories like electronics or toys, beauty and CPG products are not on the top of gift lists. Agencies and brand marketers should instead focus on an “always on” digital strategy that runs the full length of the holiday shopping season.

holiday shopping season

2. Focus campaigns on days leading up to major holidays

For both CPG and beauty, mid-November and early to mid-December saw increases in traffic, and Christmas Day was amongst the lowest ranking shopping day. As already said, our data showed that shoppers are in-market for lipstick and plastic cups in advance of holiday events — after all, who wants to run out for garbage bags or hairspray on the day of a party? Hosts and attendees like to get their shopping done, so they can enjoy the party.

Marketers and advertisers should target party goers and planners in the days preceding Halloween and Thanksgiving, the weeks preceding Christmas (holiday parties span the full month), and the days leading up to New Year’s Eve with messaging that highlights buying items early, so they can check them off their prep lists and enjoy the season’s festivities.

3. Encourage shoppers to treat themselves

Unless your idea of treating yourself is to buy paper napkins, this mostly applies to the beauty category. Per the National Retail Federation, holiday shoppers admit that about 20% of their total holiday shopping budget goes to themselves. What’s more, the beauty category saw a 56% growth from fall to winter in 2016. Because of the personal nature of beauty products, it’s reasonable to assume that some of these online shoppers are buying products for themselves — whether to get ready for a party or to take advantage of a sale.

Those in the beauty industry would be smart to encourage self-gifting behavior. Test out campaigns with messaging that gives shoppers permission to treat themselves or plays to their desire to look their best for the holiday party season.

4. Play up convenience factors

Like I already said, no one wants to run out to the store to grab last-minute items on the day of a big holiday or party. That’s where convenience factors — like mobile shopping, buy online and pick up in-store, or same-day delivery options — can set your brand apart. Though traffic to the CPG category is low on Christmas Day, 64% of product page views are coming from mobile devices, implying that those who do need to make last minute CPG purchases are shopping with convenience in mind. If you offer any of these convenience options, let consumers know through your campaigns.

If you’re selling beauty or CPG products, let the rest of the retail industry compete for shoppers buying gifts. You can focus on the shoppers who we know are in-market for your products — holiday party hosts and guests stocking up in advance of festivities. For more insights and trends for the holiday shopping season, including beauty and CPG-specific infographics, visit our Holiday Headquarters.

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