September is that special time of year when kids go back to school, a chill creeps into the air (at least for those about to enter autumn) and thoughts turn to those of...Christmas shopping?
There have always been those who like to get their Christmas shopping done early, ahead of the crowds, but even this might be stretching a point. Not to Cint, however, who issued a recent statement advising business owners that now is the time to understand how customers plan to spend money this holiday shopping season to ensure that they get the biggest slice of that pie.
Cint's remarks suggest many have already started their shopping, as they have plans to work from a budget this holiday. The continuing bad economy has depressed consumer confidence on several fronts. Those with large families are especially staying thrifty.
Thus, those businesses wanting brisk Christmas business should already be looking to accommodate those shoppers, and try to figure out if current sales targets – often based on the previous year's results – are even realistic goals.
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But it's not just stores that should be concerned. The recent drought across the United States has left a significant likelihood of increased food prices, and that may have an impact on both the kinds and the quantities of food and drink bought for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas times.
Those businesses that understand the impact of holiday shopping and the impact of the ongoing recession on shoppers' budgets can plan accordingly, with loss-leaders, increased advertising spends, or just updated promotional offerings for the resellers.
Further advancements in market research among the target market will likely reveal plenty of information about shoppers' plans, and give stores and brands the necessary forewarning they need to make adjustments in plans.
There's an additional advantage to this that was unforeseen, but makes some sense in light of conditions: it turns out that customers are actually more likely to buy goods and services from a store or business that has previously asked their opinion about shopping matters. It buys a kind of limited loyalty – a "they cared enough to ask my opinion so they're more likely to take good care of me everywhere else" sort of experience.
Cint even offers a variety of do-it-yourself marketing tools specifically geared toward helping businesses get a handle on their market research – like Cint Access, which allows users to specifically target surveys, and Cint OpinionHub, which offers access to a research pool of seven million individuals across 50 different countries to ensure the best chance of finding the most relevant information.
It's that exact item – information – that will likely make the difference between a good holiday shopping season and a bad one. With Black Friday now under two months away, shopping season will begin in earnest soon.
Whether this one will be as big as retailers hope is in doubt, but the key point is that information will help make it the best it can be.
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Edited by Braden Becker