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How the Golden Quarter is transforming shopping behaviours

The festive season is a period when shopper spending habits change from essential buys to bargain hunting, gift buying and luxury purchases. According to data from Criteo’s network of EMEA retailers, top selling items during the period include high tech items (+373 per cent), beauty products (+333 per cent), fashion (+317 per cent), and sporting goods (+307 per cent).

Online and new retail sales rituals during the last three months of the year, the “Golden Quarter”, have also transformed shopper expectations and behaviours, who now expect to find just the right deal or shopping experience for them, at any time.

Two thirds of UK shoppers agree that promotion, price, or discount have an effect on their purchasing decisions, while almost half (41 per cent) of UK shoppers demonstrate a shift towards conscious consumerism basing purchasing decisions on brands they closely identify with. This category of consumer wants the best value, but the decision to buy will ultimately be determined by whether or not the product or brand fits with the beliefs and values that are important to them.

These increasingly complex shopping behaviours see consumers embracing the ‘Golden Quarter’ as a cycle of promotions from which to cherry pick the right bargains for them, no longer one-off, must-buy mega sales days.

Sales begin to steadily increase starting in October and peak as we reach Black Friday which remains hugely popular across the EMEA region, recording annual average growth of 117 per cent. Last year, Black Friday saw an increase of 454 per cent in sales and Cyber Monday 411 per cent, bookending what is now known as the “Golden Weekend”. Criteo data has revealed a third peak during the Golden Weekend on “Hidden Sunday” (336 per cent) revealing more shoppers are making their purchases outside of the traditional sales periods.

The popularity of promotional events during this period continues to grow, giving retailers a chance to multiply business opportunities and boost their performance. This growth is backed in a recent Criteo survey by 67 per cent of retailers who expect sales to increase in Q4.

Sales expectations are equally matched by an increase in the annual marketing spend. However, the motivations behind marketing budget increases is not uniform with responses split fairly evenly between the ability to achieve targets (38 per cent), keep up with the competition (37 per cent), and expectations of annual sales growth as the top three reasons (36 per cent).

“Certainly, the opportunity to increase sales and improve performance during the Golden Quarter is not going away any time soon. But there are subtle changes year-on-year that require retailers to ensure that their strategy has the inbuilt agility and flexibility to cope with changes that occur across all phases of the festive journey and account for increasingly complex consumer shopping behaviours,” commented John Gillan, MD Northern Europe and UK, Criteo.

“Using next generation technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, reams of data can be assembled quickly into a clear picture of consumer behaviour and preferences more quickly. The businesses that innovate their use of data to gain a more complete view of their shopper will survive and thrive in this era of shopping.”

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