Digiday+ Research: Marketers are split on customer retention and acquisition heading into the holidays

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This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

It’s the most exciting time of year for discounts — and, many would say, the most important. And with brands and retailers treading the slippery slope of the economy, it’s difficult to discern what exactly is the best strategy for holiday discounts this year. Will retaining loyal customers or gaining new ones boost the bottom line? And will deeper or shallower discounts pay off in the end?

With Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend wrapped up, Digiday+ Research took a look at who exactly brands and retailers are targeting with the promotions that are kicking off the holiday season. According to Digiday’s fall survey of 56 brand and retail professionals, marketers are split between targeting new and existing customers heading into the holidays.

Two groups being split on an issue is a phrase often used in data reporting, but in a very interesting occurrence, Digiday’s survey found that marketers are literally split 50/50 between focusing on customer retention and new customer acquisition heading into the holidays. Exactly 50% of brand and retail pros said existing customers are the primary audience for their holiday advertising, and 50% said new customers are their primary audience.

We already know that brands will use traditional and digital TV channels in their holiday marketing this year, and that they are reaching shoppers on Facebook and Instagram with Instagram poised to become even more important during the holiday season. And knowing who marketers’ target audience is for their holiday season efforts also begs the question: What kinds of discounts will those audiences see this year?

According to Digiday’s survey, most brand and retail pros think discounting is going to stay the same between this year and last year. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they expect holiday discounts to be about the same as 2021 this year, compared with 65% who said so last year.

But of those who think it will change, most expect holiday discounts will be shallower this year rather than deeper. Nearly a third (31%) of brand and retail pros said they expect 2021 holiday discounts to be significantly or somewhat deeper than their 2022 holiday discounts, while only 16% said they expect 2022 holiday discounts to be somewhat deeper than 2021 holiday discounts. Zero respondents to Digiday’s survey said they expect holiday discounts to be significantly deeper than last year.

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