American Marketer


Early head-start bodes well for luxury holiday campaigns: Epsilon

July 25, 2011

Tiffany's holiday from 2010


Luxury marketers that are looking to make the most of their holiday campaigns are advised to start early and keep pushing post-holiday season, according to a study released by Epsilon.

Based on data from this year so far and last year’s holiday season, luxury marketers are poised for a strong holiday season. Multichannel marketing is the most efficient way to market, with emphasis on social media and email.

“Starting early and continuing post-holiday will enable marketers to get the most of the holiday season,” said Jill LeMaire, senior director of the strategic and analytics consulting group at Epsilon, Dallas.

“Testing throughout the holiday season and adjusting your campaigns based on that analysis will help you determine the best days of the week to send communications and optimizing messaging,” she said.

“In addition, we saw people buying much earlier, so we recommend starting holiday campaigns as early as October.”


For brands attempting to use multichannel campaigns, it comes as no surprise that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the best times to get deals in for bargain-hungry consumers.

Additionally, call center and mail-order sales peaked twice last year, first in week 46 – two weeks before Black Friday and Cyber Monday – and again in week 49.

However, retail sales peaked in week 51 with last-minute consumers scrambling for gifts in the week leading up to Christmas day.

Not surprisingly, the sales fell the next week.

Social media, especially combined with mobile, was also a key driver of sales on Thanksgiving Day.

For instance, jeweler Tiffany & Co. launched a social media holiday video campaign across all of its platforms (see story).


Tiffany holiday campaign

Data from the 2010 holiday season showed that consumers used mobile devices for Web site reviews, promotions, to check prices and to check-in while shopping at stores.

Marketers could consider using this information to offer special promotions on branded apps or on foursquare, including in-store specials or deals for mayors.

Mobile video usage has high-value and increased conversion rates, per the study.

Surprisingly, holiday email rates climbed 11 percent year-over-year despite high email volumes, per Epsilon. However, click-through rates fell 16 percent.

The highest open rates occurred the week of Black Friday, with open rates climbing in post-holiday weeks.

Indeed, luxury brands and retailers such as Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton, Frette, Kiehl’s, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman pioneered the art of cross- and upselling to drive foot traffic through discount email pushes in the post-holiday season last year (see story).


Frette's post-holiday email from 2010

Email conversion rates were highest the week after Halloween, which could be why Epsilon recommends starting campaigns early.

Additionally, Mondays and Fridays saw the highest email volumes. Email delivered on Monday had the highest open rates, while Friday had the highest click rates.

Wednesday, which had low email send volume, had the highest conversion rates last year.

“There was a notable shift in the performance by day of the week,” Ms. LeMaire said. “This may indicate that marketers were all sending on the same days based on previous years’ performance so the days with less volume and less competition were more effective in 2010.”

Continuing the merriment

As the country continues to climb out of the recession, Epsilon expects to see this data continuing this holiday season.

“We expect a lot of the trends from last season to carry over into 2011 holiday, including early shopping and post-holiday interest,” Ms. LeMaire said. “Our data shows that consumer spending continues to rebound from that last couple seasons so we recommend that marketers get started early in the season.”

Although the study did not specifically evaluate luxury brands, affluent consumers are the most likely shoppers to open their purse strings during the holiday season.

For long-term marketing strategies, brands should definitely keep track of days and weeks that are the most effective to use for other times of the year.

“If marketers, including those selling luxury goods, can leverage data such as preferences and behavioral, they can more effectively target consumers with relevant offers at the right time in the right channel,” Ms. LeMaire said.

By understanding where and when consumers are shopping, brands can better communicate offers, sales, discounts and featured items.

“We recommend that luxury brand marketers get out there early and repeat messages,” Ms. LaMaire said. “Historically, Epsilon has seen higher average order values in the early holiday window and in the post-holiday period such as mid-January.

“The more times people see the same message, the more likely they are to consider it seriously,” she said.

Final Take

Rachel Lamb, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York