British shoppers spent an estimated £2bn over Christmas last year, and UK retailers have already seen a faster rate of growth in more than a year between November and December. Here at the7stars, we’ve undertaken our own research to learn more about Christmas shopping habits.
The research is still on-going, but here are seven key insights so far:
25% of shoppers were buying Christmas groceries as early as the last week of November. This rose to 35% by 19th December, so expect some last minute grocery drama in the aisles this weekend. Especially with the news that Click and Collect services may be oversubscribed. (Source: Telegraph)
Our passive tracking data indicates that women are spending more time browsing retailer sites for presents for their families – fitting these in between school runs and when kids have gone to bed. Clear peaks around 10am, from 1-4pm and then again at 9-11pm. Top sites? Argos, Disney Store & Toys-R-Us.
Men on the whole are less likely to be visiting retailers on their mobile. Their top sites for Black Friday fortnight were adult entertainment (yes, really!), BBC news and sport, betting and gaming sites, and YouTube.
Men are more focussed in-store. 1 in 3 buy exactly what they’re looking for, compared to only 1 in 5 female shoppers. How can we interrupt this mission and encourage extra stocking fillers in-store?
As time has gone by, shoppers in-store who are inspiration hunting have dwindled – 34% in the final week of November, and only 25% in the week ending 19th December. Price comparison also declines over time, and pre-planned bundle purchases almost double.
16-24s are most likely to make their retail therapy a sociable experience in the lead up to Christmas. 28% shopped with friends, compared to only 9% of 65+. Opportunities exist for brands to reward these groups and invite them to stay longer when they’re making a day of it.
Even as the day itself draws nearer, shopping still remains a largely enjoyable experience! 55% of those shopping up until the 19th December said so. With 900,000 shoppers estimated to hit the West End this weekend (source: Daily Mail), let’s see if the last minute stress-fest is a myth!
Source: the7stars Lightbox
Data collected from passive tracking of 100 Brits’ mobile behaviours since 25th November, and 1500 shoppers at over 10,000 geo-fenced retail locations.
This month Amazon confounded expectations by setting out to launch a bricks and mortar retail outlet. It is not unprecedented for pure-play brands to launch a physical store (e.g. Made.com), but it is an interesting move for the world’s largest online retailer.
Bricks and mortar is about the only thing that groups Amazon’s planned venture with the others it will be surrounded by on the streets of Seattle, when it launches in 2017. The Amazon Go store is a supermarket with a difference. No checkouts, no queues. Shoppers will simply open the app to enter the shop, add items to their baskets, and then open the app at the exit gate. Everything will be paid for; wirelessly, effortlessly, and without human interaction.
As Mary Portas would argue, the high street beats the internet when it comes to shopping experience. Retailers are using stores not only to showcase their products, but to offer interactive experiences, making the high street a destination for entertainment. Charlotte Tilbury’s in-store VR installation is a great example of this, as is Superdry’s magic virtual dressing mirror, while Apple’s Fifth Avenue store – one of the most successful stores in the world – has an abundance of gadgets for customers to play with, making the experience rewarding, and the store a tourist attraction in its own right.
Amazon clearly believes checkouts and the queues they result in are retailers’ biggest problems, and are banking on tech being the solution. However, regardless of the level of innovation, technology can easily become a frustration if the user experience is not seamless.
Those who shop at supermarkets will be well attuned to the frustration when they are marginally delayed by having to enter a PIN at the checkout rather than pay with contactless. The prospect of a store so advanced that it highlights what you may like as you walk around, knows you and your tastes better than the shop assistant, and even delivers to you when your shop is too large for your bag, is almost frightening, yet equally exciting. If the technology can live up to expectations, and consumers embrace it, this may well revolutionise the weekly shop as we know it as other retailers follow suit.
For advertisers, taking out the human element means a more emotionless path to purchase, dictated instead by algorithms and past behaviours. Winning in this world won’t be about mastering the algorithm but rather breaking it, by being a brand that people harbour irrational demands for. Being distinctive and standing for something has never been such an important marketing strategy to lock down in 2017.
2016 will be remembered for many things; Bowie, Trump, Brexit and Pokémon Go all made their mark. For tech fans however, it will also be remembered as a year of significance in the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Google created an algorithm that outmanoeuvred a world champion at strategy and intuition; Microsoft created Tay, the well-intentioned chatbot which became racist within 16 hours; Uber tested an autonomous driverless fleet; and Amazon introduced us to Alexa, a voice controlled speaker turned intelligent virtual assistant.
With the world’s biggest tech players all jostling for space in the AI arena, it seems timely to look at what this may mean for brands in 2017.
Artificial Intelligence is formally defined as the development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence. While this may sound a bit Orwellian, John McCarthy, one of the original computer scientists, famously said, “As soon as it works, no one calls it AI anymore”. So whether it’s Google Maps suggesting alternative routes because of traffic or Netflix suggesting what else you might like to watch – once an AI innovation is embraced, it recalibrates consumers’ expectations for brands and platforms.
Back in the ‘90s, companies first built websites as an interface to answer customer questions 24/7; fast forward 30 years and we have seen the birth of the bot to provide a human feel without the human being on the clock. From a macro point of view, it’s no wonder that the biggest tech companies in the world are all relentlessly chasing the next generation of AI architects. Ahead of the curve, Foxconn – the world’s largest electronic contract manufacturing company – announced this year that it is replacing 60,000 employees (more than half of its workforce) with AI ‘robots’.
AI has been seeping further into the world of advertising too, but not quite at the pace originally predicted. ‘Programmatic’ was the ANA’s 2014 marketing word of the year, and while the volume of AI fuelled planning and buying is steadily on the increase, it has struggled to break beyond the confines of pure digital media channels.
Digital audio and outdoor have made strides programmatically during 2016, but are still far from critical mass. Moreover, while DSPs and SSPs are facilitating greater levels of targeting, optimisation and RTB, there is still an absolute need for human intelligence to manage the campaigns and ensure quality, so the robots won’t be taking over any time soon.
From a consumer point of view, AI seems to be quite welcome as long as it’s helpful and facilitates personalisation, rather than acts as a creepy know-all entity. For example, Google Goals automatically schedules self-defined goals based on your free time, and reschedules that goal session for you if something else crops up. The more you use the function, the more it ‘learns’ when and how you work best. This is the perfect example of how AI works best when fused with human intelligence, and should serve as a best practice blueprint for brands looking to work with AI in 2017. Just because something can be replaced with AI doesn’t mean it necessarily should be.
The media industry powered forward in 2016, adapting well to new technologies, including software and specialisms. It hasn’t been easy, but media agencies are arguably pulling ahead of other marketing service disciplines when it comes to embracing and building tech innovations.
1. This year saw the diversification of a number of media brands, as they stepped into new channels –
Vice launched 24-hour channel Viceland, Sky made its long-awaited move into mobile and Amazon expanded into just about everything. But it’s not just media brands that need to diversify. Agencies will need to follow suit; the success of the modern agency will depend on evolving in line with the latest trends – if they can’t keep up, like brands behind the times, they will soon be defunct.
2. Globalisation over the past few years has seen customers demand their favourite brands wherever they are – and at a cheaper price than ever before. Meanwhile, globalised marketing in agencies has largely been a failure. Cross-country campaigns have often meant bland global messaging, and have led to frustrated clients. Delivering global campaigns without losing the interest of a culturally and geographically diverse audience is an area that media agencies need to improve on.
3. Nearly 90% of marketers believe growth depends on personalisation and improved customer knowledge. The problem marketeers face is keeping up with creating the volume of tailored content to deliver personalised campaigns. Traditional agencies aren’t set up to deliver here; their cost structures are too high and their processes too inflexible. As a result, in 2017 we expect to see the lines blurring between media and creative agencies. As media is digitised – and as the tech is developed for last-minute and live-feed campaigns, even in a formerly non-digital space – the ability to deliver creative becomes ever more challenging.
4. Diversification, creativity and accountability will be the talking points into 2017 and beyond; we look forward to the challenge of staying ahead of the agenda.
With digital out of home predicted to hit 40% of outdoor media spend by next year (AA/Warc), 2016 has seen outdoor media owners battling over their shares. Exterion won the world’s largest outdoor contract from TfL, and a £100m investment is expected to go towards upgrading the network’s advertising infrastructure. Despite losing this contest, JCDecaux has drawn up a battle plan to become the fourth largest media owner in the country by hitting the 1 billion eyeball mark – though the LDN 6-sheet phase out is already 500 screens behind schedule. Alongside the big two, Primesight unveiled LinkUK, a plan for London’s streets and a new small format import from New York. From Clear Channel and others, expect to see more Wi-Fi hotspots and information points next year as outdoor owners look to “add value” to their portfolio.
2016 was an eventful year for national press, with the market seeing titles launch, close, and even change hands. We saw the closure of the Independent, the launch (and just nine weeks later, the closure) of New Day, and the i move to Johnston Press. Despite all of the above, the biggest news of 2016 was Project Juno and the planned consolidation of national press sales houses to combat the emphatic rise of digital powerhouses. Next year will see the major players make a yes or no decision, in what could be the biggest evolution of print since the Gutenberg press.
This year became a battleground for BBC and commercial radio, as they jostled more closely than ever for the number one spot on the airwaves. In February, the reach of commercial radio overtook that of the BBC for the first time in 15 years, and they went tit-for-tat in subsequent RAJAR surveys. Further fuelling this year’s success for commercial radio, the second commercial DAB multiplex launched with 18 stations in February – a combination of wider-reaching existing stations, and some brand-new ones, including Mellow Magic and Virgin Radio.
This year saw the changing of hands of many BBC television classics; Paul Hollywood was the last man standing as Great British Bake Off moved to Channel 4, Will.i.am took The Voice to ITV for early 2017 and Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May took Top Gear on a Grand Tour to Amazon. In sport, ITV took the horse racing reins from Channel 4. But the channel fought back as Steve Jones headlined C4’s new Formula One coverage and its Rio Paralympics reporting excelled once more. Money talked as 21st Century Fox made a £18.5bn offer to acquire Sky, and viewing habits continued to change as viewing figures for video-on-demand increased yet again.
2016 was predicted to be a tough year for cinema , and yet, the box office remains on course to match 2015’s figure of 172m admissions. This year saw the rise of 18 certificate movies, with Deadpool and Girl on the Train breaking several records; 50 Shades Darker is expected to continue the trend of commercially successful adult blockbusters in 2017. Also this year, the gold spot was sold on a film-by-film basis for the first time. This allowed brands to ‘own’ select films – an opportunity previously unavailable due to a long-term deal with Orange. 4DX has also seen a surge in popularity – and is a trend to watch in 2017 – with Cineworld’s immersive format installed in cinemas nationwide. Finally, this month DCM poached the luxury cinema chain Everyman from Pearl & Dean, increasing its share of market to 81%, and strengthening its position as the largest media owner in the market.
Distracting us all from another year of mobile, 2016 saw the influencer marketing sky rocket in the digital sphere. Lending digital advertisers credibility and an ability to reach new audiences, influencers allowed advertisers to react to trends and engage with users in a fresh and exciting way. Alongside this, augmented reality took off this year, with AR/VR offering brands an ability to showcase innovative content. Never far away from the headlines over the last 12 months has been the pursuit of transparency in digital; with big investigations into rebates and kickbacks already underway, we are expecting this story to roll on into 2017.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a holiday is “An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling.” However, when the the7stars Lightbox collaborated with Exterion Media to undertake research with UK urban consumers, we found something very different: for most people a holiday simply means a break from routine and having some time to yourself. This finding led us to go on and bust three popular holiday myths.
So, the first of the three myths we busted was: holidays are a chance to get away from it all and switch off. The majority of consumers (57%) said they want to escape everyday life, however only 21% said they aim to evade technology when they are on holiday. In fact, for many technology actually adds to their experience – as long as work stress and anxiety caused by work emails and social media are avoided. Furthermore, whilst 2 in 3 said they wanted relaxation, 2 in 5 of these urbanites told us that they were also active on their last holiday. This shows that relaxing does not always mean completely switching off, instead it suggests that relaxation is about having the chance to pick and choose what you do on holiday.
The second myth we busted was: low cost always wins in importance over other factors when considering holidays. Less than a quarter (23%) said that low cost influences their holiday choices, whereas 42% said that they look for good value. In fact, accommodation (30%), location (25%), and experiences (15%) are what most consumers prioritise when booking a holiday. This shows that people are willing to spend more when they believe they are getting a good value. Travel brands, therefore, should focus their attention on these rather than the cost of holidays to attract consumers.
Finally, the third myth was: people are only in the holiday mindset around Christmas and New Year. With one third of foreign travel marketing expenditure taking place from December through to February and reaching a peak in January, the7stars asked whether this is the most efficient way of targeting consumers. In reality, bookings are almost equally spread across seasons, and 38% said that they did not book holidays at any particular time of year. Although more than half (51%) said that they start planning holidays at the start of the year, booking is triggered by key motivational moments – such as a change of season, and specific events or festivals. Even more surprising, 76% said that they book mini-breaks throughout the year, within no particular time frame. Travel brands, then, should target their advertising to consumers’ particular behaviours so as to provide a bespoke and more successful campaign.
Our research highlighted three main opportunities for brands:
Family life in the UK is changing. The Housewives with Children demographic as a means for media planning and buying has never felt more generic and misrepresentative. the7stars Lightbox research & insight team recently completed an extensive quantitative and qualitative research project encompassing an attitudinal segmentation of 9.3million families in the UK, followed by a bespoke online community and ethnographies with families around the country, to help understand what a modern family in the UK really looks like. Here’s a taster of what we found…
There’s no such thing as an average family
2.4 is no more, with the typical number of kids per family in the UK now 1.8. On the flipside, we’re seeing bigger family units with the prevalence of extended families living together. While this may sound like a story of happy families, we know that for the majority of parents the ‘Family First’ mantra is no longer always true. We learnt that it’s important to consider not only the collective group, but also to understand the individual mindsetand needs within the family unit.
Parents look to social media for escape
Seven out of ten parents say they enjoy spending time by themselves, and six out of ten Millennial parents say they turn to social media to escape the chore of daily family life. We also found that while one in three parents admit they’re not sure what their kids are doing on social media, more interestingly almost one in five wouldn’t want their kids to know what they’re up to.
Personal luxuries are a must –regardless of wealth
While it may seem obvious that some of the wealthiest families in the UK regularly treat themselves to personal luxuries (through the means of buying possessions and time) it is also increasingly happening among some of the least well-off families –the personal luxury may be of a lower financial value, but the value of importance is equal.
Media can be both friend and foe to family life. TV is overwhelmingly still the medium of choice to bring families together, while other screens in the home are felt to cause as much enjoyment as they do arguments.
These insights demonstrate that parents across the board seek personal escape and individual indulgences that reaffirm their own identity outside of their family. It gets even more interesting by segmenting these families to learn more about their motivations.
In recent years, podcasts have become increasingly popular; however, with no tangible research into this area, the7stars Lightbox teamed up with DAX (Digital Audio Exchange) in order to explore the potential that this medium can offer as a marketing channel.
A study of 2,000 Brits, this was the UK’s first piece of independent research on how consumers interact with podcasts.
With almost 4 million people having listened to a podcast within the last month, podcasts are not as niche as one might think. In fact, podcasts make up 7% of all audio listening’s weekly reach, and 10.8 million podcasts are consumed in a month. Not just a way of passing the time, listening to podcasts is active rather than a passive, and 74% agree that doing so helps to expand their knowledge. Furthermore, of those who do not listen to podcasts 32% say that it never occurred to them to listen to one, demonstrating that there is notable opportunity to grow the market.
Podcast listeners, therefore, are a valuable advertising audience. 70% of listeners say that they have never paid for a podcast, and 61% are happy for the audio experience to include ads, as long as the podcast itself is free. More than half (56%) said they did not mind ads relevant to the podcast topic.
Check out the infographic for all the key stats:
This week, leading bookmaker Coral unveil their latest advertising campaign to promote their extensive sports betting offer. The high-energy, action-packed TV and radio ads, were created by Big Al’s Creative Emporium, and feature the voice of Peaky Blinders star Joe Cole.
The multi-million pound campaign is devised to capture the excitement and passion of live sporting events and has been developed to tailor specific ads to our favourite sports, including football, darts, snooker, horse racing and tennis.
On screen visual effects were created by award-winning studio, Framestore and actor Joe Cole’s distinctive voice describes the highs and lows of live sporting action:‘[Football] A 90-minute roller coaster ride of emotions… You can watch it or you can get involved in it. Do you want to be a spectator or a player?’
The first of the 30-second ads launched on SKY SPORTS on December 6th and the continues to run across SKY networks and BT SPORT throughout the festive season and into the new year. In total the new campaign will comprise three TV ads, seven radio ads (for TalkSPORT) as well as press ads, in-shop POS and creatives for social media.
Olly Raeburn, Coral Brand Director said, “Being a sports fan is not just about winning or losing, it’s about getting involved, and this new campaign is designed to encourage punters and would-be pundits to do just that.
Raeburn continues, “Our new executions are much more contemporary and much more product focused. They’re brimming with energy, packed full of action and really drive a sense of engagement around sport, putting Coral right at the heart of the action.”