23rd Nov, 2022

Reminder, retail marketers: “Attention” can be a mixed bag during the holiday shopping season

retail holiday season

As retail marketers are dotting the last i’s and crossing the last t’s of holiday campaign copy, the Persado content team wanted to take this opportunity to remind you about a language anchor that can be your best friend or your worst enemy during the retail holiday shopping season. It’s Attention.

As in, using the emotion of Attention to capture your share of customer engagement. Time and again, Persado’s multivariate experiments of AI-generated holiday shopping campaigns (compared with a brand’s best human-crafted copy) show that language with an emotional context consistently motivates more email opens, text click-throughs, web banner clicks, and so on. That translates into more marketing-driven revenue during the year-end than retailers would have achieved without Persado.

And Attention is the emotion that regularly ranks among the top three most effective for retail overall. That top three ranking typically holds during the holiday shopping season as well. In headlines, Attention looks like:

  • FYI, this sale ends at midnight!
  • A friendly reminder, these sweaters are almost out of stock.
  • Hey there, we’ve got a gift for you!

However, the 2021 holiday shopping season upended the traditional position of Attention at the top of the performance ranks. Instead, Persado-generated, Attention-driven campaigns underperformed, while those anchored by the emotions of Exclusivity (as in, you’re getting something special just for you) or Luck (an unexpected benefit) did better.

So, where do we stand in 2022, and how should retailers use Attention this year? Our advice is to plan and test.

Attention may help overcome mixed signals during the holiday shopping season

Gloomy talk about persistent inflation and economic pressure is clouding the retail holiday picture, for sure. But the reality on the ground is more nuanced. Overall, consumer spending has decreased slightly in the past months, according to data from McKinsey. Yet predictions about holiday retail spending remain tentatively positive. That’s largely because certain segments have been affected more than others by the economic stressors of the past year.

People in lower-income households may be relying more on lower-cost retailers as they tighten their purse strings. And middle- and upper-income groups are showing less inclination to reduce spending [check out this webinar on 4 Ways to Win the Holiday Season if you want more on that topic].

The takeaway is that people in all income brackets are still going to spend some money—and certain consumers are going to spend as much or more. The key as a retailer is to maximize the likelihood that they spend their money with you. And Attention language in a context of holiday shopping campaigns has traditionally motivated them to do it.

Attention is powerful, but be careful how you use it in holiday shopping campaigns

Given the importance of the next few weeks for retailers, it’s important to leverage concepts that have worked, but test them to see how they have changed. We saw, for example, that even when Attention language was performing well in 2021, the most effective holiday shopping messages had a softer, more subtle tone to them. Instead of a headline that read SALE! with shouty caps and exclamation points, it was FYI: Our sale starts now — still Attention-oriented with that FYI, but less aggressive.

And you can’t know what is going to fully motivate your audience without testing it. Persado Motivation AI is here to help — please reach out!

All the best for a profitable holiday season.


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