Look to Thanksgiving dinner for holiday shopping trends

Columnist Adam Weiss takes a close look at the friends and family we all have around our Thanksgiving dinner tables and explains how affiliate marketers can get their attention this holiday shopping season.

holiday-retailer2016-mobile2-ss-1920There’s nothing quite like the holidays: home-cooked feasts, colorful foliage, gift giving, and most importantly, visiting with friends and family you haven’t seen in a while.

In thinking about the upcoming holiday season, I thought it would be interesting to create customer profiles for each family member and reflect on how affiliate marketers might be able to get their attention during the biggest gift-giving season of the year.

No matter how diverse your family is, there’s always a deal, trend or offer to suit them. This shopping season is the perfect time for advertisers and publishers to reach the whole family.

Everyone at the dinner table

I’d be hard-pressed to find someone at your Thanksgiving celebration who doesn’t own a mobile phone. The mobile phone takes on a whole new role during the holiday season; for some people, it becomes their No. 1 shopping buddy.

Based on our Rakuten Affiliate Network data, mobile sales grew 59 percent year over year from 2014 to 2015 and generated 40.5 percent of holiday traffic last year. More and more advertisers and publishers are making their sites mobile-friendly, which will impact the 2016 holiday shopping season through increased sales.

The post-Thanksgiving dinner shopper

Last year, several of my family members made a beeline for their laptops after dessert was served. In 2015, it was clear that Thanksgiving was the day to shop: According to our network’s data, orders increased by over 30 percent and sales by over 55 percent compared with previous years.

These increases surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2015. Additionally, Thanksgiving Day shoppers spent more money per order, compared to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with the average order value coming in at over $155.

Deal-hunting aunt

She’s been doing her homework for weeks to get the best deals. Not only does she have her in-store circulars in hand, but she’s also been organizing emails and checking all of the loyalty sites to see which ones are offering the best deals and cash back.

It’s important to have a presence on these sites as shoppers continue to make key decisions on where to shop based on rewards in the forms of points, cash back or future rebates, all of which can greatly influence where a consumer makes a purchase.

For advertisers and publishers, be sure to promote those offers early in the week so strategic shoppers will remember where they saw their favorite deal first.

Fashion-forward cousin

You always keep your fingers crossed that you pick out your cousin’s gift from the holiday grab bag, because you know she’s wrapped up the hottest item of the season. She knows what’s trendy because she’s constantly scouring her favorite fashion and beauty blogs. Brands don’t want to miss an opportunity to get in front of this shopper.

In preparation for the holidays, diversify your partnerships with publishers to reach a wider audience of consumers. Engage with bloggers and influencers and look for opportunities to forge new relationships. These publishers are a great vehicle for communicating the unique features and functions of your product through engaging long-form content.

Additionally, Pinterest, a favorite platform used for cool gift ideas and unique presents, can help check everyone off your holiday shopping list. Pinterest reports that two-thirds of pinners say the platform will influence holiday purchases, and these shoppers intend to spend two times more than the general public. Make sure that your affiliate network has robust tools for publishers that can quickly and easily allow them to feature your products and affiliate links on Pinterest.

Lastly, seek out key spokespeople you can engage with for paid placement opportunities. Paid placements align your brand with influencers who will authentically recommend your products to your target audience.

‘I’m finished with my holiday shopping’ in-law

Every family has at least one relative who starts shopping as soon as there’s a hint of chill in the air. If you don’t get your offers out early, you could miss an entire audience.

In 2015, almost half of internet users began holiday shopping before Thanksgiving (one to two months before). These shoppers are eager to avoid the rush and get the best deals from cyber weekend.

In a recent interview we conducted with RetailMeNot (disclosure: publisher partner), when asked if there was too early of a time to start promoting holiday deals, Vice President of Operations Kim Read noted, “There really is no ‘too early,’ but advertisers need to be strategic.” Read emphasized that the focus should be on the quality of the deal.

Last-minute shipping and shopper cousin

Everyone is familiar with the cousin who hates the holiday shopping crowds and dreads the mall. He’s always on the lookout for free shipping, and his favorite day of this year will be December 16, Free Shipping Day.

Last year, Rakuten Affiliate Network saw orders increase by over 32 percent and sales rise over 24 percent on Free Shipping Day. Smartphones and tablets contributed to 23 percent of sales.

If your brand is participating in Free Shipping Day, use your affiliate network to get the word out to your customers. And after December 16, “browse online and ship to store” becomes the preferred method of holiday shopping and a lifeline for those last-minute shoppers. Providing updated messaging to your affiliate partners can help communicate these conveniences to consumers.


Unfortunately, my recommendations can’t help with Uncle Bob’s bad jokes or Great Grandma Beth’s cheek pinching, but you can use them to better the performance of your affiliate marketing strategy. Don’t be afraid to rely on your affiliate network for assistance with messaging and distribution of special offers.

Most importantly, amid all the madness, take the time to enjoy the holidays with your family and friends. It’s during these times that some of the best memories (and sales) are made.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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