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Strategies, spending and organization. While these three words parallel the holiday shopping we’re doing this month, it’s also what marketers (and businesses) are thinking about as we re-evaluate and perfect strategies for the new year. One of the best ways to get into the minds of marketers and the customers they market for is the bi-annual CMO Survey of marketing leaders at for-profit U.S. companies. The most recent edition takes a closer look at marketing across various industries in a post-covid era, from what factors are important now to what’s ahead. In reviewing the most-recent CMO Survey, we found many of the takeaways in action during Black Friday weekend. Without further ado, here are three marketing trends forecasted in the most-recent CMO Survey and where they fit in with the holiday season of giving… and shopping.

Customers Conscious of Quality, Price and Community

Marketers anticipate that superior product quality, excellent service and low price will be among the top three customer priorities in the new year. This emphasis on quality and service is consistent with findings over the last year, however trusting relationships was a key focus during the COVID-19 pandemic that has since declined. This is a reminder to keep price in mind without making it the main priority as we’ve seen repeatedly that customers will pay more for better quality or a name brand that they respect. As foresight practitioner Jenny Dinnen shared in our November podcast, “We don’t want to be in a race to the bottom on pricing, we want people to have a personal connection with us to be telling the stories that are happening and to engage deeper with us.”

A record 196.7 million Americans shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, spending an average of $325.44 on holiday-related purchases, according to the National Retail Federation. One of the most common questions to ask avid black Friday shoppers is, of course, “How were the deals?” To which 90% of those who shopped would reply that the deals were the same or better than last year.

In a Bankrate survey, 33% of people planned to do their holiday shopping this year in-person at a small business and 41% planned to shop in-person at a large business. Of those who planned to shop online, 35% planned to shop small and 45% were going with retail giants, while the remainder of respondents planned not to shop. Those that planned to support small businesses cited unique gift ideas (51%), better customer service (48%), fostering a sense of community (39%) as the top three benefits small businesses have over large businesses, while only 23% believed they offer lower prices.

Face-to-Face and Face-to-Screen Channels Alive and Well

Spurred by changes over the last three years, 65.1% of marketers report an increase in the number of channels used and 30.9% say they added a direct-to-consumer/customer channel. While some of these shifts remain intact, 50% of marketers are shifting once again by returning to or opening new face-to-face channels. As B2B Products and Services lead the returns to face-to-face channels at 58.6%, the survey finds that 27.3% of B2C Services are more likely to convert former face-to-face channels to digital. Meeting customers where they are, 41% of marketers report now using social channels to sell. While this social media presence and streamlined shopping experience plays a huge role in everyday, unplanned shopping scenarios (hence trending “TikTok made me buy it” must-have items), it can be especially helpful for the holidays. Deloitte research cited by the Washington Post finds that 60% of Gen Z (those born in 1997-2012) and 56% of millennials (those born in 1981-1996) will complete at least some form of holiday shopping on social media, including TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and similar apps. The influencer marketing space, which hit $10.4 billion last year according to Grand View Research, plays its role in this with branded content incentivizing purchases and paid media leading the way in digital spend at 44%, per the CMO Survey.

As apps continue to push in-store shopping and streamline the process, it’s anticipated that virtual storefronts will continue to grow. Be it the rush of physically scouring stores for deals or a return to normalcy, 17% more people headed to actual storefronts this holiday than in 2021. Fully integrated marketing campaigns can help businesses bridge the gap between online and offline sales and experience with consistent messaging, incentives, touch points along the buyer journey and more. As NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay highlights that retailers did their due diligence in delivering excellent service and price by matching sales and promotions across online and in-store channels to streamline the shopping experience.

Investments in Technology Rise

Each year, the CMO Survey asks participants about their current marketing investments. In the most-recent edition, marketers report focusing on the optimization of their company website (75.1%), data analytics (66.7%), digital media and search (63.6%), marketing technology systems/ platforms (59.1%), and direct digital marketing (52.9%). It’s clear that owned content media is a priority with content marketing, email marketing, site development and post-sales digital support accounting for 34% of budgets.

An updated website is endlessly important for businesses across the board. Aside from SEO rankings, when consumers land on websites, designs that focus on user experience can help them take a dedicated action. We talked about the importance of having a dedicated email list in our August coverage of the CMO Survey and it remains a focus for marketers once again! Between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, a data-driven email and SMS platform for e-commerce businesses, Klaviyo, reported over 10 billion emails sent and $2 billion in revenue on e-commerce stores, up 46% from 2021! Outside of email, Klaviyo also witnessed an increase in SMS revenue with order counts growing 190% over that five-day period. In line with an increasing focus on data analytics, personalized messages with email headlines and SMS messages saw an increase at 14,000 sent, and resulted in the most clicked and highest converting, per Klaviyo and more companies are studying online behavior (63.3%) to better connect with their audience, the CMO Survey finds. For more on data analytics, stay tuned for Part 2 of The 19 podcast with Jenny Dinnen!

As the year winds down to an end and holiday shopping continues – seriously, 76% of shoppers said they’re not done filling their carts, we leave you with the above points on what’s important to consumers, how to reach them and what types of investments marketers are making. To focus your marketing strategy in 2023, reach out to the Orange Label President Rochelle Reiter at rreiter@orangelabeladvertising.com

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Founded in 1972

As Orange County’s longest-standing, privately held response marketing agency, we have witnessed dynamic shifts in the world of marketing. Through it all, we have ensured our clients stay at the forefront of communication and technology, driving response and value with every new endeavor.