Posted: Monday 19th July 2021 in Performance Marketing.

Peak 2020 was marked by significant changes in consumer behaviour which were accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Most UK retailers had to adapt and overcome new challenges as their audiences migrated online following shop closures during the key retail period before Christmas. Shopping trends were accelerated by approximately 10 years, which is equivalent to a 10% growth for the fashion sector.  

Let’s explore the top three consumer trends that Google identified during Peak last year: 

Using digital to browse – the discovery and exploration phases of the customer journey have had to move online, which increases the expectation placed on digital to deliver what was traditionally an offline experience. In the fashion sector, 69% of womenswear shoppers said they made a purchase online during the pandemic, compared to only 33% the year before. 

New searches & new demographics – 73% of growth in retail searches on Google in the UK last year came from new or rarely searched terms. We expect this to continue even more this year. Also, the largest growth was through the 55+ age demographic, as more users are adopting this new way of shopping. At Summit, we have observed the same trend emerging for one of our biggest PPC clients as well. For them, the biggest growth in term of conversions was seen through the 55-64 and 65+ age demographics.  

And lastly, Peak started much earlier last year and according to experts at Google, it is predicted to start even earlier this year. This year, being prepared is going to be key to winning during Peak. 

So, as we are rapidly approaching Peak 2021, what can retailers do to be prepared from a PPC point of view? At Summit, we expect to see four main trends emerge ahead of Peak: 

Increased brand trial 

Brand loyalty has been in decline for a number of years as people are prioritising product quality, meaning that the bigger retailers which have traditionally held the biggest shares of traffic are starting to lose out to smaller independent brands. From a PPC perspective, this a fantastic opportunity to break through the noise and reach a wider audience than ever before. We recommend investing time in becoming “discoverable” through your PPC activity now, so that people will remember and return during Peak. Here are the segments you should consider growing now: 

Google Shopping – Take advantage of this quieter period before Peak to optimise your Google Shopping feeds and sort out any outstanding issues and warnings in the Google Merchant Centre. Also, try to gradually increase spend through some of your key product categories in order to drive more awareness and reach a wider audience. This will make it easier to scale up your Google Shopping activity when demand increases before Black Friday. 

Non-Brand – Focusing on non-brand terms is a great way to increase brand awareness and expose potential new customers to your brand when they are in the research phase. While this activity targets more upper funnel traffic, many users who discover you through non-brand activity will often return and convert through a different channel, so do not be discouraged if you don’t see a strong last-click ROAS through non-brand. 

Brand building is key

It is very important for retailers to start investing in brand ahead of Peak, with a view to influencing shoppers now, so they become your customers later. For the fashion and jewellery industries visual and inspirational formats play a key role in influencing purchases so use every opportunity to engage potential customers with enticing creatives and strong brand messaging. Here are some segments you should invest in now: 

GDN – Grow your brand awareness by launching Prospecting and Remarketing GDN campaigns focusing on the audiences that are most valuable to your business. By investing in GDN now, you are increasing your discoverability during a relatively quiet period when it is easier (and cheaper) to cut through the noise and reach your target audience.  

Discovery – Similarly to GDN, Discovery targets a more upper funnel audience, however it is a format that combines the versatility of ETAs with engaging and creative visuals to deliver a unique customer experience. For some of our clients at Summit, Discovery drives a much stronger ROAS as well. 

Be smart

According to Google “Peak 21 will be won by combining 1st party data with smart solutions and automation to deliver the right experience, to the right user, at the right time.” This means that now is a great time to trial some smart PPC features and decide which ones have the potential to help you achieve even better results during Peak. Here are some smart features we recommend you trial in the run up to Black Friday: 

Smart Shopping – We launched Smart Shopping across some of our PPC clients this year and so far, we have achieved strong results using this tactic. The best results, however, came from launching our Top Product campaigns on Smart Shopping using a Target ROAS bidding strategy. 

RSAs – This ad format is versatile and helps combat ad fatigue by showing users a bespoke ad based on what they are most likely to click on. It does involve a bigger set up effort as you would need to generate between 7-14 unique headlines and 4 unique descriptions for each ad, however RSAs tend to have higher CTRs compared to ETAs, making them a useful tool to have in your account before Black Friday.  

Focus on lifetime value

Use advanced measurement, 1st party data and lifetime value predictions now to understand who your most profitable customers will be, so that you are set up to acquire them at the end of the year. Most importantly, ensure that you are set up to incorporate CRM audiences within your wider PPC audience strategy across all accounts. This will allow you to target people who you know are more valuable to your business and even show different messaging to users at various stages of their purchasing journey. 

Peak 2021 is set to be bigger and more competitive than ever, as many retailers are more tech savvy and better prepared for the increase in demand compared to last year. Being prepared and having a solid strategy to target users at every step of the journey will be the key to winning during the Black Friday season this year.

We hope you found this PPC guide useful and if you need support now to prepare for Peak, please get in touch with our experts today at [email protected]. We wish you good luck during Peak!