Why this Holiday Season is a Growth Opportunity for Marketers

Our CRO, Brian Gleason shares why marketers need to focus on customer acquisition and retention this holiday season for long-term growth.
Updated on September 26, 2023

Marketers always need to push their bottom line, but the holiday season is an especially critical window to drive sustainable growth through customer acquisition and retention.

Even with economic obstacles like inflation and high interest rates, consumers are planning festivities to make the most of the holidays. And for marketers, growth is even more important when facing economic challenges, because they will want to increase purchase volume with existing customers as much as possible and acquire new in-market customers who can become repeat buyers. This approach creates a flywheel effect that can transition from being holiday-specific into an always-on, 365-degree growth strategy. But marketers shouldn’t wait until Black Friday to engage consumers.

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The fourth quarter is the best time for customer acquisition

More consumers are in-market during the holiday season, making it the best time of year for brands to try to acquire new customers. And they’re not just shopping on big deal days. Criteo shopper data from November 2021 across 22,000 advertisers showed that in the U.S., and much of Europe and Brazil, the share of new buyers (consumers who identify as new customers) began to rise in early November and peaked on Black Friday1.

Brands and retailers are already capitalizing throughout the holiday season with custom sales events—including Amazon hosting its second 2022 Prime Day last month. But our data showed October’s Prime Day didn’t create a strong halo effect of sales across brands and retailers as it has in the past. And Black Friday, while still an annual commerce milestone, saw softened sales since 2015 (except for in the peak of the pandemic in 2020). This may be because retailers and DTC brands started their own sales events earlier in the season, so consumers have more control over their holiday shopping schedule, and access to quality brands, retailers, and products online and in-store.

Marketers who understand buying journey are the ones who win

For marketers to stand out in the holiday noise, they need to understand the buyer journey and provide value to their best customers and prospects at every stage. But connecting with the right audiences is more challenging than ever due to higher competition, emerging channels and formats, and impending addressability concerns that have marketers recalculating how to best deliver seamless consumer experiences.

That’s why acquisition campaigns built on first-party data can provide durable audience strategies for marketers to reach and engage lookalike audiences whose shopping behaviors and preferences best resemble their existing customers—as well as audiences who are in-market for their products and have the highest intent to buy. Leveraging first-party data that is continuously refreshed to build audience segments helps marketers’ strategies evolve alongside consumers’ needs and behaviors to ensure they always know how to provide the most value to their customers’ and prospects’ lives.

Always-on strategies drive long-term growth

To achieve long-term growth, marketers must be always on to capture new customers when they want to buy. While the holiday season may be when more consumers are in a commerce-focused mindset, marketers can reach in-market, high-value customers all year round and optimize their approach with their best audiences. This helps marketers think beyond the holidays and plan out how to leverage holiday promotions to lower customer acquisition costs in the new year and drive long-term customer lifetime value into the new year.

This also means advertising in the right places, including open internet inventory outside of saturated walled gardens, as well as new media environments like retailers’ sites and online marketplaces through retail media. In fact, our Global Marketer Survey found that 53% of marketers are prioritizing leveraging online marketplace advertising as a tactic to acquire customers this year2. Retail media not only sustains retailers by driving incremental revenue for their business, but also puts brands as close to the point of purchase as possible on a retailer’s site—in the holidays and beyond

Marketers need the right tools for sustainable growth

If marketers leave growth strategies out of their holiday marketing mix, they not only miss opportunities to connect with consumers over the festive season, but also face steeper competition in the coming year against marketers who capitalized on acquisition and retention during the fourth quarter. The holiday season is always critical for marketers, and our team at Criteo is helping marketers drive their bottom lines through digital advertising with our Commerce Growth solution.

This solution powers marketer’s acquisition and retention campaigns with our First-Party Media Network, that lets marketers tap into insights from 725 million daily active shoppers and their browsing and purchasing habits, leveraging more than 120 intent signals and advanced AI to engage the right customers at the right time and with the right messages. With an always-on approach to data-driven acquisition and retention strategies, marketers can achieve continuous business growth in the holiday season, and years into the future.

For more digital advertising strategies for the holidays, download Criteo’s Holiday and Festive Season Playbook on a Page to help you make the most of the peak shopping season.

1Criteo Data, Indexed share of New Buyers in November 2021, compared to November 1-14
2Criteo Marketer Survey, Global, May-July 2022, n=526

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Brian Gleason

Brian Gleason is Chief Revenue Officer at Criteo. He leads the company’s global client solutions organization that is focused on helping clients drive outcomes on the open internet through its Commerce Media Platform solutions. Previously, Brian was Global Chief Commercial Officer of GroupM and ...

Chief Revenue Officer (CRO)

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