Retailers surveyed on online holiday spend


Shopping / Christmas / HolidayFollowing mixed sales projections for the holiday shopping season, retailers aren’t planning to significantly adjust spend compared to last year. A recent BDO USA survey said 72% of chief marketing officers at leading U.S. retailers plan to allocate roughly the same amount of funds toward marketing and advertising this year as they did in 2012: “Although 20% plan to increase spend, retailers anticipate a 1% decline in their ad budgets overall. Social media continues its rise as an essential element in holiday marketing. The 88% of retailers leveraging social media this season indicate that the tactic will comprise 14% of their total marketing budget, on average, up from 10% in 2012. However, despite the growing prominence of social media and other forms of e-commerce, including mobile, retailers remain uncertain about the optimal mix of digital marketing strategies.”

“Retailers know they must embrace multiple channels to stay competitive this holiday season,” says Natalie Kotlyar, partner in the Retail and Consumer Products practice at BDO. “But the truth is, many brands are playing catch up with the digital movement. Consumers have come to expect social engagement; mobile is now the challenging frontier for many brands seeking to test the waters more before making a major investment during such a critical season.”

Traditional channels still important amid mixed approach to mobile. While 38% of retailers are including mobile in their marketing strategy this year—down from 50% in 2012—those who are embracing it are ramping up their efforts. Last year, mobile comprised an average of 5.9% of retailers’ overall marketing budget; this year, that number has jumped to 15%.

41% of CMOs are investing most of their holiday budgets in traditional print ads, which have been a consistently popular medium over the last 4 years. And CMOs still believe in the power of TV to reach a wide audience: 29% say they will spend the majority of their holiday advertising budget on broadcast.

For social media, Facebook and Twitter dominate, with Pinterest on the rise. From the report: “Among the 88% of retailers who are incorporating social media into their marketing strategy this holiday season, Facebook (99%) and Twitter (52%) remain the two most popular platforms. Marketers are also increasingly using Pinterest (27%) and YouTube (24%) to engage customers and drive traffic to their e-commerce platforms. Target, for instance, debuted its “My Kind of Holiday” campaign this year, which uses holiday catalog Pinterest boards to attract consumers and provide ideas for how to use products in creative ways this holiday season. A solid 16% of retailers are leveraging Instagram this year, as well, ranging from apparel brands such as Gap and Patagonia to food retailers like Starbucks.”

Only one quarter of retailers anticipate using Daily Deals during the holidays, down from 42% in 2012. Flash sales were the top mobile promotion strategy for a plurality (30%) of retailers last year. This year, only five% of retailers cite flash sales as their primary mobile tactic. Overall, greater emphasis on text message campaigns (33%) and mobile coupons (28%) point to a shift in mobile strategy.