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

This article originally appeared in Adweek on November 3, 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 holiday shopping, and getting gifts to my kids in time for Diwali. After all... she doesn’t want to lose the title of Favorite Auntie if she can’t follow through on their wishlists.

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

This change in consumer behavior is actually good news for marketers. In a holiday retail year unlike any other, early shoppers bring unique opportunities. Don’t wait for the holiday crush to set in later. To win this holiday 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 holiday meals and canceled trips, people are planning to go big this year. Going big also means spending big. According to Deloitte, holiday sales could increase by as much as 9%, 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 labor shortages, there’s a real concern that supply won’t keep up with demand.

People are starting their holiday 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 holiday content earlier in the season than ever before.2 They’re already looking for holiday inspiration and shopping for gifts. They’re already ready for you.

Hand in a loose blue sleeve holds the silver metal ring of a small blue purse, forest blurred in the background.

Be the holiday hero

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

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

1.
Start your holiday messaging now
Don’t wait until cyber week to drive conversions. Encourage early shopping by highlighting the products and gifting categories you already have in stock. Maybe it’s not the full list of gifts 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 ensure holiday sales, 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 alleviate those last mile concerns, and get people into your stores. Run targeted campaigns to shoppers who live near your locations, and encourage them to browse in-store to find their favorite picks. Emphasize 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 holiday messaging early and often. You want to stay top of mind throughout the season, so 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 at in the process. And don’t forget about marketing gift cards, especially as the holidays get closer and people need quick solutions.

Meet the moment on Pinterest

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

Indexed search volume for winter holiday terms
2020 vs. 2021

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

Pinterest is the perfect place to find holiday shoppers who want to hear from you ASAP. Plus, these shoppers mean business. People who shop on Pinterest build 85% bigger baskets than shoppers on other platforms.5

Our measurement studies show that brands who 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 a successful Q4 sets up for success the following year. Luckily, there’s a way forward—and it might even be one of your best holiday seasons yet.

For more Pinterest holiday insights and campaign tips, visit our 2021 holiday 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 9/1-11/10; normal is 11/11-11/25; late is 11/26-12/31

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. US, Apr 2021