With 21 national holidays every year, India is known to have the most number of holidays in the world. It’s followed by Colombia and the Philippines, tied at 18 national holidays yearly. The Philippines celebrates holidays that are related to its rich history and strong ties with Roman Catholic culture. It is also known to have the longest Christmas celebration in the world, as Filipinos begin preparing for this season as early as September.
The “-ber months”, spanning September to December, are the most awaited times of the year by both consumers and businesses. It’s a symbiotic relationship – consumers are eager to spend their bonuses, so brands provide them with sales and promos which in return increase revenue for their businesses.
What is the typical consumer behavior of Filipinos during this time of the year? And how can digital marketers maximize these trends?
Filipino consumer behavior during peak season
The Household Final Consumption Expenditure or HFCE is one of the ways we can measure the consumer spending of a country. Think of it as a list of all the items Filipinos have purchased or spent money on every year, neatly organized into categories such as food, education, transport, clothing, and entertainment.
Based on a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority, HFCE increases by 20% every 4th quarter of the year. Filipino consumers purchase in categories such as recreation and culture, communication, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and food and non-alcoholic beverages. It is also during this quarter when revenues of malls and retail chains increase by up to 46%. Fast food chain restaurants also feel this season’s effect as their sales can increase by up to 19%. These categories are in line with your average Filipino’s activities during the Holiday season: shopping for Christmas gifts at SM and Ayala malls, buying groceries for Noche Buena, drinking San Miguel beer at office Christmas parties, and keeping in touch with loved ones abroad via video calls on Facebook and Skype.
The spike in numbers is not only felt by retailers, but by marketers and advertisers as well. According to Google Trends, there has been an 85% increase in mobile searches in the past two years, with the height of searches for “where to buy” happening right around the corner of December 25:
From a digital and mobile marketing perspective, the increase in searches means more impressions when running seasonal campaigns. When drilled down, more searches translate into higher website visits and, following the logic, conversions or purchases. Hence, during this time of the year, companies go full force in implementing their marketing strategies for the season.
At this point it’s already a given that great opportunity lies during this time of the year, however not many maximize it. Below are some best practices on launching a seasonal campaign, as well as projected trends for Christmas this year.
Launching a seasonal campaign
Beat the noise by starting early
Although the Christmas shopping rush peaks around November and December, it’s always good to be the first player in the game. Begin creating season-related content right before or as soon as the “-ber” months start, and create a content calendar for the rest of the year. The earlier you schedule your content, the earlier you can also launch and optimize your marketing campaigns. One advantage of doing this is that it results in a much longer purchase journey, giving you more opportunities to connect with your customers.
Adjust to your customers’ seasonal needs
Ever notice how malls, retail stores, and restaurants decorate their spaces during major events and holidays? This concept doesn’t just apply to physical spaces, but to digital and mobile campaigns as well. When running ads especially on display and social, it’s ideal to adjust your creatives so that they match imagery that’s related to the season.
This concept also applies to adjusting to how your customers shop during this season. For instance, trends on Google indicate that mobile shopping is very popular during the Christmas season – as much as 40% of Christmas transactions are done on mobile! Since it’s expected that online users and website visitors will increase during this time, your digital marketing strategy should include ensuring your landing pages and mobile apps work seamlessly, and that your payment option functionalities will work effortlessly for your customers.
Meet customers where they are
Although most Filipinos purchase offline or in-store, a large majority will still conduct initial research online before proceeding with the actual purchase. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that there are enough helpful resources about your product or service that are easily found online.
Another way this strategy can also be applied is by catering to last-minute shoppers. This consumer behavior is not uncommon. On Search, terms such as “store hours”, “stores open near me” and “stores open on Christmas” are highly popular especially during the last few days leading to December 25. Knowing this, you can run campaigns highlighting if your business is open until late in the evening or during the holidays
It’s important to meet your customers where and when they are in need. Expecting when and where they will ask for help is a good practice to have, as this also aids in keeping your business top of mind of consumers.
Expect strong performance…and stronger competition
Face it – during peak seasons, the chances that you’ll be the only player in the game are extremely slim. Although online users and impressions may increase, so will your competition. If you already know that you’re expecting more players in the online space, it’s ideal to set aside a larger budget specifically for your holiday marketing campaign.
Historically speaking, bidding strategies such as Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost Per Thousand (CPM) increase during the holiday season. For instance on December, which is the peak month, CPC can increase by up to 39%. Knowing this you may want to consider increasing your maximum CPC and CPM so that you can stay ahead of the competition.
Although the trends generally point towards revenue increasing during peak season whether or not you have a digital or mobile marketing strategy in effect, it’s always best to take advantage of all opportunities for improvement that are available to you. It’s also important to know that these strategies can be applied not just during Christmas season, but during other holidays or celebrations during other months of the year as well. As a whole, once you keep these practices and strategies in mind, you will have a stronger and more efficient seasonal campaign.