Unwrapping success: 5 trends to help activate the 2023 holiday shopper

Holiday Shopping 2023

The winter holiday season is a magical time of year filled with joy, festivities, and gift-giving. In 2023, holiday shopping is set to be more dynamic than ever before, with evolving consumer preferences and behaviors. To stay ahead of the game, it's essential for brands and agencies to be up-to-date on the latest shopping trends and tailor your marketing and activation strategies to reach more consumers effectively – and make the most of this festive season.

If you’re paying attention to recent holiday predictions (like CNN’s ‘ho-hum holiday’ expectations or Deloitte’s retail forecast), you’ll find a mix of perspectives ranging from abundant optimism in buyers’ needs to shop in-person again to less-than-optimism about the effects of price increases. We’re here to share what consumers are telling us – and what trends to watch this holiday season.

1. Early Bird Deals

Consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier than ever. They are on the lookout for early bird deals to secure the best prices and avoid last-minute stress. Based on MRI-Simmons’ 2023 Retail Trends Study, 30% of American adults – over 76 million Americans – plan to holiday shop earlier this year compared to last year. These shoppers don’t want to risk shipping delays or out-of-stock products, but they like to shop around (81%), are spending more time researching products (80%), and opt to avoid large crowds (66%). Marketers should start holiday campaigns well in advance of the Black Friday ad flood and capture these eager shoppers. Consider running early-bird promotions and sending out targeted emails to your loyal customers, encouraging them to start shopping now.


2. Online Shopping Dominance

Online shopping shows no signs of slowing down. Over 55 million Americans plan to shop online more this holiday season compared to last year, up from 41 million in 2022. When shopping for holidays in the past year, these ‘online shoppers’ are 51% more likely than the average American to shop mostly online. They also spent more money on average for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the Winter holidays in 2022, creating a compelling case for brands and marketers to have a strong online presence this Fall. 80% of American consumers prefer the convenience of home delivery from online shopping, and 55% are less likely to shop in-store due to the online options available. In fact, nearly 100 million Americans plan to participate in (and are already looking forward to) Cyber Monday 2023. Invest in user-friendly websites, optimize for search engines, and ensure a seamless shopping experience to attract and retain more online shoppers.

3. Discounts and Coupons

With high inflation rates this holiday season, saving money is top of mind for most shoppers. In fact, 80% of Americans are being more “choosey” in what they buy to save money, and nearly 3 in 4 Americans (over 188 million) plan to spend less money this holiday season compared to last year. 85% of these ‘savers’ worry inflation will get worse through the end of 2023, and for most, the number one goal when shopping is to save as much money as possible (74%). To bring in these consumers, marketers should focus on the power of discounts. Nearly 60% of these shoppers always look for a discount code when shopping online, and over 50% will “gladly switch” brands to use a coupon. With consumers pinching pennies, brands should get their holiday campaigns out early and blow up every opportunity to save money.


4. Sustainable Gifting

Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword; it's a lifestyle choice for many consumers. In 2023, eco-conscious shoppers will seek out sustainable and ethical gift options. 50% of American adults are preferential to brands committed to reducing their environmental impact. These eco-conscious consumers are increasingly seeking sustainable and ethical products, with nearly 80% agreeing they will pay more for a product that is safe for the environment. They are 51% more likely than the average American to buy clothing brands that focus on sustainability and 44% more likely to buy natural products. If your brand aligns with these values, highlight your eco-friendly products and responsible sourcing in your marketing materials. Consider launching special holiday campaigns that focus on sustainable gifting and partner with environmentally-friendly influencers to amplify your message. Brands that prioritize sustainability not only attract environmentally-conscious consumers but also contribute to a better future.


5. Mobile Shopping and Social Media

With 94% of American adults owning a smartphone, it’s no surprise that mobile shopping has become the norm. 3 in 4 Americans like mobile apps because they make shopping easy, and mobile tools, such as click-and-collect, view-in-room, and virtual try-on, make apps more appealing. Over 130 million Americans have used mobile tools like browser extensions, QR codes, or virtual assistants to help them shop in the past 6 months, and over half of Americans plan to use at least one of these tools in the next 6 months. To make the most of this holiday season, ensure your website is mobile-responsive, implement digital payment options, and offer exclusive mobile discounts to entice smartphone-savvy shoppers.

But as we know, mobile shopping isn’t limited to retail apps. 48% of Americans – over 123 million – have purchased a product on social media in the last 6 months, and this percentage continues to grow year over year (up from 43% in 2022). These ‘social media shoppers’ discover new brands, learn about products, and even purchase products after viewing content from their favorite influencers. Building an engaging social media presence can help brands connect with a wider audience and drive holiday sales.

Activating the 2023 holiday shopper

With 188 million consumers planning to spend less this holiday season compared to last year, marketers may find it challenging to capture their share of holiday spend in 2023. In this dynamic environment, a good starting point might be to focus on those consumers who would be more willing to buy a brand if they knew it was eco-friendly, or that would go out of their way to buy a product that is environmentally safe. For CPG brands and other organizations that can make the eco-friendly claim, targeting that audience, which represents over 36 million Americans, would be a wise strategy.

Through MRI-Simmons' activation solution, ACT, marketers can leverage trusted and nationally representative data to target and reach this cost- and eco-conscious consumer target. Curate your audience with over 60K consumer elements: 1000+ attitudes and opinions, 6500+ brands in 1000+ product categories; and 90+ proprietary segments. Then, activate via the DMP, DSP, SSP, MVPD, or programmer of your choice.


The Winter holidays present a wealth of opportunities for marketers. By staying attuned to the latest trends and implementing targeted marketing and activation strategies, you can reach more consumers and maximize your success. Whether it's through early bird deals, sustainable initiatives, or mobile-friendly approaches, adapt your marketing efforts to meet the evolving demands of holiday shoppers and have the key to unwrapping success this Winter season!

Sources: 2023 August Retail Trends Study (SP23 USA); 2023 Q3 Trending Topics Study (SP23 USA).

Emily Paschal
Emily Paschal
Emily Paschal is a Senior Researcher at MRI-Simmons, whose career spans market research, project management, and marketing. Emily plays a central role in the development and execution of MRI-Simmons’ focus studies.