My friend called me from Target last week. “I am standing between the Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations, what is going on here?!” she exclaimed. Yes, that’s right, the holiday season is here.

As I started to think about my own holiday shopping, I found myself automatically reaching for my phone to make a quick note. Like many of my family, friends, and coworkers, my phone is the hub of my holiday planning; I keep my shopping list in Evernote, I search for discount codes online, on Instagram I check out my favorite fashion bloggers for gift ideas, and I look for recipes and decorating tips on blogs and Pinterest. Just like me, countless other consumers are reaching for their smartphones and tablets to simplify their holiday planning and shopping.

Having a compelling online presence is a critical factor for success for brands and retailers, and is even more important during the holiday shopping season. During the 2013 holiday season, 52% of online smartphone shoppers used their phones throughout the shopping process,[1]and those numbers are only expected to increase in 2014. As more and more shoppers turn to their mobile devices to help with decision making and purchases , retailers and brand owners need to put the connected shopper at the center of their promotional campaigns. This is why for the past couple of months, IMC’s influencer marketing team has been working with our clients to finalize and execute their blogging and social media campaigns for the holidays.

Before consumers pull out their wallets they are reaching for their smartphones. Consumers are more informed about their purchases and spending less time in stores, but this doesn’t mean people are spending less. The Wall Street Journal reported a 55% decrease in foot traffic from 2010 to 2013, but sales for that same period were up from 14% to $782 billion. This is good news for retailers. Consumers are shopping more efficiently, they are researching purchases ahead of time and using their smartphones in stores. Mobile is impacting shopper behavior:

  • 84% of smartphone shoppers use their device while shopping in a store
  • 53% of shoppers are using their smartphones to make price comparisons
  • 39% use their smartphone to find promotional offers
  • One in three will use the their smartphone over asking for asking for help in store

[Source: Google/Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council/M/A/R/C, “Mobile In-Store Research,” April 2013.]

While ads and retailer websites continue to be important, consumers now want to know how other consumers are interacting with products and services. They can and do get this information easily online; the power of social recommendations has never been greater. According to BrightLocal’s 2014 Local Consumer Survey, 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more, while 88% of consumers said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

In addition to being compelling to consumers, this type of online content – usually blog posts and social media posts – also easy and fun to share. The power of a handful of positive product reviews can be greatly amplified online by consumers who enjoy interacting with one other and being involved with their favorite products and brands. I myself love to post pics and share pictures on Instagram of purchases inspired by my favorite fashion bloggers, so I know first-hand that influencer marketing works!

Now that we are into November and ramping up the shopping season, make sure, when consumers reach for their smartphone or tablet, that they can find your store or brand online, that they can learn how other consumers are using and loving your product, and that they can get the information they need to make their purchasing decisions.

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