Unwrapping the power of dark social at Christmas time
A view from Craig Tuck

Unwrapping the power of dark social at Christmas time

With seven Fridays to go, it's past-time for marketers to start the run-up to Christmas

Last Christmas, it wasn’t hearts Brits gave away, but rather £77.6bn in festive spend. According to Nationwide Building Society, Brits on average buy 14 individual gifts during the festive season, totalling £645 per person.

Christmas marks the busiest time in the shopping calendar and of this huge spend, nearly a quarter of all purchases in December are made online.

RadiumOne’s Christmas Insights Report reveals that three in five people (62%) begin Christmas planning with less than three months to go. That window is the most crucial time for marketers to ensure they are front of mind of their target audience and engaging them in the right way to capitalise on the Christmas shopping frenzy.

The findings also show that there are three distinct phases across the shopping period. The first step to cracking the Christmas consumer is recognising their behaviour and shaping campaigns around peoples’ needs accordingly. So, with seven Fridays to go until Christmas and the countdown begun, what exactly does that mean for marketers?

Don’t underestimate the power of Black Friday

In 2016, Black Friday saw sales peak over the entire Christmas shopping season, and 2017 is set to follow suit. While brand purchases at Christmas time remained above average compared to the rest of the year, our data reveals a clear spike in online transactions on Black Friday.

Marketers need to take note. The day is no longer just a tech play, with a number of categories reporting a jump in online sales during the period. Black Friday is the time most gift hunters take to the web to fill Santa’s sack, regardless of category. In fact, technology and jewellery sales increased by 52% and 48% respectively, and sports and beauty purchases increased by a third.

Showing intent through dark social

Dark social is a crucial part of the Christmas shopping cycle. Eight out of 10 of festive shoppers share Christmas themed content through email or instant messaging, and act on these recommendations.

Dark social sharing is a clear sign of intent for later purchase, with one in two people sharing technology gift ideas via these channels and one in three people sharing fashion gifts. Of those that shared tech and fashion gift ideas, one half and one third, respectively, went on to the point of purchase.

Make the most of multiple screens

The key to making marketing magic in the run-up to 25 December is a mixture of screens. Mobile is key for researching those perfect presents, but when it comes to conversion, consumers continue to favour desktop and laptop. Almost a third (29%) of shoppers use both mobile and desktop, while 64% stick to one device.

Marketers shouldn’t disregard mobile. Cross-device is as key at Christmas as it is at any other time of year, and a successful marketing strategy is one which is executed across channels.

Understanding consumers’ preferences and behaviour when it comes to both sharing and planning helps marketers improve ROI from campaigns. This is especially critical in the noisy festive period where cut-through is even more challenging.

Craig Tuck is managing director at RadiumOne UK