What is the fifth quarter?
There is no let-up for retailers or brands selling direct or through marketplaces. As if Black Friday and the run-up to Christmas wasn’t enough, there is a growing focus on the importance of ‘the fifth quarter’ (Q5) as a further commercial opportunity that needs to be better planned for.
Threepipe Reply imagines a new quarter for the year and preempts how marketers can get behind this gift-giving season
Often overlooked, Q5 is the ‘invisible’ quarter that begins the day after Black Friday and runs until the end of January. It’s made up of three key phases or moments: first, pre-Christmas; second, Christmas and Boxing Day; and third, the New Year and January sales. These three phases are hugely important because consumer shopping intent is still high, but also (and perhaps more importantly) the cost of media is lower than in preceding weeks.
This next fifth quarter also takes on more importance as we are likely to see more consumer purchasing because of fears of inflation as we move into 2022 and the need to secure products earlier in the year.
The three phases
The challenge for retailers is that these three phases need thinking about separately, which requires an agile messaging and creative approach. While purchasing intent is very high, motivations change fast during this eight-week period.
Shifting from phase one to phase two, product messaging must shift rapidly from buying gifts for family and friends to purchasing for oneself. With this change of focus comes a change in product selection. Out go the chocolates, alcohol and beauty products and in comes self-gifting of mobile phones and games consoles. Understanding how to shift the product focus is key to success.
Boxing Day sales these days start online on Christmas Day itself. As with most online sales, this trend was begun by Amazon to get a head start on the traditional physical stores’ discounting and this will continue to be the case this year. However, with consumers increasingly concerned about supply chain issues, we are expecting physical retail to be in higher demand as shoppers are able to buy and take away what they can see.
With more people spending time at home over the festive period, there is also a greater search for products and services ‘near me.’ More people will buy more locally and physical store retailers must ensure that their online search strategies capture this spike in demand.
One increasing purchasing trend has been the use of gift cards, which are used both online and in-store from Boxing Day onwards. £7bn will be spent on gift cards this year, with most given over the Christmas period. This is a huge opportunity for retailers and brands because, when using a gift card, 43% of people buy a product that they have never bought before and two-thirds of people top up the spend beyond the initial value of the gift card. This represents a fantastic customer acquisition channel. Brands must be alive to that opportunity.
All of these retail moments are driven by a range of changing desires over quite a short period of time. Brands must be alert and agile to these opportunities. Changing product availability, creative and messaging is key to success.
Jim Hawker, co-founder at Threepipe Reply.
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