This year, festive shoppers are starting earlier than ever. But while consumer demand hits all-time highs, supply is hitting all-time lows. The good news? The festive season can come early for you, too. Move up your season to play festive hero for customers—and beat the retail bottlenecks while you’re at it.

This article originally appeared in Adweek on 3 November 2021 as ‘Holiday Shoppers Are Ready—But Are Marketers Prepared?’


My sister called in a bit of a panic the other day. She’s worried about shopping for the festive season and getting gifts to my children in time for Diwali. After all, she doesn’t want to lose the title of ‘favourite Auntie’ if she can’t follow through with their wishlists.

She’s always been a planner. But hearing my sister worry about the festive season, even before Halloween, made me realise just how widespread the panic is getting. Even consumer news channels are reporting on a fraught festive retail season. Which means that everyday consumers like my sister are starting to get nervous—and they’re starting to shop earlier than ever.

This change in consumer behaviour is actually good news for marketers. In a festive season retail year unlike any other, early shoppers bring unique opportunities. Don’t wait for the festive crush to set in later. To win this festive season, your season should start now.

Orange and yellow flowers and white candles floating in water inside a round metal bowl. Orange and red flowers surround it against a purple background.

Beat the bottleneck

After 2020’s smaller festive meals and cancelled trips, people are planning to go big this year. Going big also means spending big. According to Deloitte, sales could increase by as much as 9% this festive season, compared to 2020.1

Normally, marketers would welcome the challenge of increased demand. But this year’s concerns aren’t about the consumer. They’re about the container: whether gifts will even make it to shelves and homes on time. Between logistics issues, operational woes and labour shortages, there’s a real concern that supply won’t keep up with demand.

People are starting their festive planning and shopping earlier than ever.

Like you, we’ve been watching these complex issues unfold. But timing is everything and it’s actually on your side. Our data shows that people on Pinterest are searching for festive content earlier in the season than ever before.2 They’re already looking for festive inspiration and shopping for gifts. They’re already ready for you.

A hand in a loose blue sleeve holds the silver metal ring of a small blue bag, with a forest blurred in the background.

Be the festive hero

Don’t wait for supply and operational issues to pile up later in the year. Take cues from your audience and start your push for the festive season now. You can be the festive hero—for your customers and your brand. Save people the stress of guesswork later on, and save yourself from worrying about hitting all your festive goals later in the season.

Here are three small shifts to help you capture shopper demand:

1.Start your messaging now for the festive season
Don’t wait until cyber week to drive conversions. Encourage early shopping by highlighting the products and gift categories that you already have in stock. Maybe it’s not the full list of gifts that you hoped for—and that’s OK. Start by marketing what you have in stock right now and keep adding over time as more inventory rolls in. This will help you to ensure sales this festive season, regardless of what happens later in the year. Plus, our data shows that people who shop early end up spending more.3

2.
Encourage in-store discovery

Help to alleviate those last-mile concerns and get people into your shop. Run targeted campaigns at shoppers who live near your location and encourage them to browse in-store to find their favourite picks. Emphasise that in-store shopping is the best way to guarantee on-time delivery… Because they’ll take it right home with them!

3.
Refresh your messaging throughout the season

Lean into the festive messaging early and often. You want to stay top of mind throughout the season so that you’re with people all the way from crossing off gift lists to buying that last-minute decorative accent. Remember to pivot your messaging as needed to reflect what you can offer and where people are in the process. And don’t forget about marketing gift cards, especially as the festive season gets closer and people need quick solutions.

Meet the moment on Pinterest

Pinterest routinely sees demand for the festive season earlier than other platforms, because it’s the first place that people go to start planning for gifts, décor and more.4 But this year, even we are surprised to see just how early people are planning. Festive search volumes are growing at a higher rate than in past years, and earlier in the season.2

Indexed search volume for terms relating to the festive season
2020 vs 2021

Line graph showing indexed search volumes comparing 2020 to 2021, 5 July to 21 September, with pink and pale purple lines trending upwards and 2021 showing greater growth

Pinterest is the perfect place to find festive shoppers who want to hear from you ASAP. Plus, these shoppers mean business. People who shop on Pinterest build 30% bigger baskets than shoppers on other platforms.5

Our measurement studies show that brands that reach people on Pinterest earlier in the season see better results. Our data shows that brands see 4.7x more conversions when people are exposed to Pinterest Ads earlier in the season, compared to brands who wait to advertise later on.3

We understand what’s at stake this year. And we understand that a successful Q4 sets you up for success the following year. Luckily, there’s a way forwards—and it might even be one of your best festive seasons yet.

For more Pinterest insights and campaign tips for the festive season, visit our 2021 festive season hub.

Written by NIKITA SHETTY

Currently saving ideas to HAPPY DIWALI

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Footnotes
2

Pinterest, search analysis, US, Aug 2019 vs Aug 2021

3

Pinterest, internal campaign analysis, global, 2020. Early season classified as 01/09 to 10/11; normal is 11/11 to 25/11; late is 26/11 to 31/12

4

Compiled with Pinterest and publicly available third party data, global, Jan 2020–2021

5

Dynata for Pinterest, shopping study with people who use Pinterest weekly for fashion and beauty, compared to people who use other platforms. Apr 2021