As the 2017 holiday shopping season comes to a close, the numbers are rolling in. Sales this year are expected to reach $671 billion — including this week. During the final shopping days of the year, from Christmas Day through New Year’s Eve, consumers are expected to spend $73 billion.
According to the research firm Customer Growth Partners, this holiday season’s 5.6% increase over the same period last year is the largest increase in sales the retail industry has seen since Holiday 2005.
According to Mastercard’s SpendingPulse Report, which tracked sales activity across all payment types from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24, 2017 marked a “new record for dollars spent.”
Tracking online sales, Adobe says Cyber Monday 2017 was the largest shopping day in history, with sales up 16.8% over last year, bringing in $6.59 billion in online sales — a 16.8% rise over last year, and $1.5 billion above Black Friday’s sales.
Rakuten Marketing, a leading technology company that enables brands to increase sales through data-driven marketing, reported year-over-year (YOY) holiday online sales growth of 16% for the period of December 1 – 15, 2017. (Rakuten shares these insights and more, here.)
Tony Zito, CEO of Rakuten Marketing, comments, "The uptick in retail holiday sales and transactions directly correlates to strong consumer confidence and a healthy economy, and this positive environment is driving strong eCommerce results for advertisers.
Zito continues, "As we approach the end of 2017 and the first weeks of the New Year – periods where last minute gift purchases and gift card redemptions take priority – marketers must keep consumers engaged in order to capture additional wallet share.”
Rakuten data shows that this week, 27% of first-time purchasers purchase a second time — and 45% percent of two-time purchasers make repeat purchases. “This figure jumps to 66% for shoppers who have purchased five times or more from any one merchant,” Zito adds.
Beauty Shoppers ‘Search’
Search, accounting for 42.6%, was the leading driving factor of online sales this holiday season, Adobe says. Twenty-five percent was from direct traffic and 24% from email.
In beauty, holiday sales started out slow, the NPD Group reported, but took off the 3rd and 4th weeks of November. Makeup gift sets are selling the most, followed by skincare.
A surprising fact: Skincare gift sets contributed more volume during Thanksgiving/Black Friday week than fragrance gift sets. (See more from NPD’s sales report in the news story, Beauty’s Looking Bright this Season.)
According to Google Trends, one “Breakout” search term this holiday shopping season was “Beauty Advent Calendar,” which is a cleverly designed gift set package that has become more popular in recent years. A few of the brands this year that launched “beauty advent calendars” are NYX and Charlotte Tilbury - see them in the slideshow, 21 Stand-Out Beauty Gifts.
Searches for “Beauty Advent Calendar” rose steadily from September 2nd through December 2nd, before a gradual descent through December 16th. Searches for the term peaked from November 5th through November 11th.
When Do Holiday Shoppers Shop?
Beauty brands might want to start thinking a lot earlier about gift sets — and this is where Sephora may have the edge over competitors with its online “Gifts” section, which is fully “stocked” all year.
According to Rakuten Marketing, 54% of consumers are thinking about holiday gifts throughout the year, with women being 36% more likely than men to browse for gifts online all year.
By Halloween, 83% of consumers start actively holiday shopping — with Millennials being 38% more likely to start shopping by Halloween than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.
While 28% of consumers want to be mostly finished shopping before the holiday rush, only 13% plan to be done in time for Thanksgiving week sales.
Late shoppers: 53% of consumers don’t plan to finish their holiday shopping until December, and 36% of them won’t finish until the week before Christmas.
In the beauty and personal care category, 50% of early October sales convert in less than one day versus 43% approaching Cyber Week.
What are the most effective ways to reach online shoppers? Display ads, search and social campaigns, and influencer marketing are all highly effective during the holiday selling season, Rakuten reports.
Consumers who engage with display ads are 31% more likely to make a purchase. Search and social marketing strategies initiate 84% new shopping journeys than other digital marketing strategies, with search at 95% more and social at 64% more, according to Rakuten.
Perhaps no one knows better than beauty brands that Influencer marketing creates more engaged consumers on a brand’s website. Rakuten says Influencer marketing drives an average of more than 7 page views per session. Also, 53% of influencer touchpoints are the first touchpoint in the consumer journey.
This Year’s Stand-Out Beauty Gifts
We spotted lots of makeup sets, including fancy boxes filled with mini lipsticks or shiny cases with gloss or face makeup. Skincare sets were also popular.
Gift set packaging trends this year include boxes that turn into hangable ornaments, reusable tin boxes, and Beauty Advent Calendars — featuring cartons filled with products tucked under flaps or inside drawers. There are also quite a few luxurious splurges — “super” sets that contain every lip color, eye color or nail polish a brand makes.
As always, landing on the coveted “Oprah’s Favorite Things” list always means a huge boost in sales for a brand. Here are the beauty gifts that made Oprah’s 2017 Favorite Things list.