4th of July Marketing & Shopping Trends [2021 Guide]

The Namogoo Team
  • The Namogoo Team
  • March 7, 2021

Bonus material: The 3-Stage Sales Promotion Strategy Blueprint for Top Retailers, by Namogoo & Microsoft.

Apart from the winter powerhouses that are Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there are few holidays on the yearly calendar that Americans look more forward to than the 4th of July weekend — and with excitement that comes with letting your patriotism shine through comes another favorite past-time: Shopping, and as data over the years shows, lots and lots of it.

From backyard barbecues, camping trips, parades throughout the nation, fun-filled games and plenty other activities for families, 4th of July weekend promotions have been a staple event, helping consumers party like it’s 1776 year after year. 

This has made Independence Day sales promotion hugely profitable for eCommerce retailers — According to the National Retail Federation, consumer spending on food items alone has been north of $6.2 billion[*] going back to 2014.

 

The 4th of July eCommerce sales forecast for 2021 will no doubt look different than in years past, because the COVID-19 global pandemic has impacted online shopping behavior dramatically. 

But many industries can expect a more profitable 4th of July than ever before, and retailers today have an entire year’s history lesson they can look to when planning their sales promotion strategy for this year’s Independence Day.

That’s why we’ve assembled this guide — to help eCommerce and digital teams understand the factors impacting consumer behavior and arm them with the data and insights to launch promotions that’ll both meet their customers’ needs and business goals. 

This guide will take you through:

 

Jump to any section here:

4th of July Online Shopping Forecast for 2021
4th of July eCommerce Data: Can 2020 Results Give eCommerce Brands a Heads Up for 2021?
Get Ahead of the Competition By Launching Your Promotions Early
4th of July Marketing Ideas for a Profitable Independence Day

4th of July Online Shopping Forecast for 2021

One of the first steps for planning any major marketing campaign is to put together a forecast with finance and operations to ensure you have the inventory and margins to support the promotion you want to run. 

And to properly forecast, you need to understand the key factors and events that may impact the performance of your campaign. 

In 2021, there are two factors to consider: 

1. The COVID-19 pandemic

2. Amazon Prime Day 2021 

Both of these events may significantly affect the way consumers choose to spend their shopping dollars during the 4th of July sales period. 

#1. How the COVID-19 Pandemic Will Impact This 4th of July Ecommerce Sales

Consider these COVID-19 online shopping statistics from 2020:

  • In 2020, the percentage of consumers who indicated they plan to celebrate Independence Day dropped from 86% to 76%
  • Spending fell from $6.78 billion to $6.52 billion with the pandemic still very much a factor on the economy and consumer spending priorities. 

The impacts of social distancing have changed consumer buying priorities — this impacted how they felt about the last 4th of July in particular. In a survey prior to last year’s Independence Day:

  • 74% of consumers indicated they would not be making any July 4 travel plans
  • One in three said they felt less patriotic in 2020 than the previous year[*].

However, a lot has changed since the beginning of the pandemic, and the data is encouraging for eCommerce retailers: 

  • Amazon’s 2020 Q4 revenue rang in at over $125.5 billion, up from $87.4 billion during Q4 in 2019, largely due to an increase in online shopping due to the pandemic. 
  • 56% of consumers surveyed reported an increase in their online shopping
  • 14% of survey respondents reported shopping online for the first time
  • 75% of consumers expect to maintain or increase their online shopping even after the pandemic is over.

So while there were many reasons for a retailer to be nervous last year when planning their 4th of July marketing campaigns, after a year of data, the statistics paint a more positive picture.

How optimistic should retailers be about a return to normalcy before July 4? 

McKinsey forecasts that as vaccine rollout scales across the country, herd immunity (when most of the population will be immune to COVID-19) will be achieved between the third and fourth quarter of 2021[*]. 

That’s the best-case scenario, and unfortunately the possibilities of new infectious strains of COVID-19, any delays in rolling out vaccines, and skepticism leading to some avoiding vaccination could see the pandemic’s impact linger until the first quarter of 2022. 

With so many factors that can delay eradicating the problem, consumers may not bounce back to pre-Corona levels: Retailers should expect that already intense competition for online shoppers will likely be as fierce as ever come July 4, and that will up the ante for their approach to online promotions. 

To stand out from the many incentives that will be thrown at customers, your 4th of July sales promotions strategy should be diverse and able to take into account the unique needs of both first-time and returning shoppers.

As the industry has seen, eCommerce adoption has rapidly accelerated ever since the pandemic started  — to  the point where 52% of senior digital managers in our Annual eCommerce Leaders Priorities Survey Report conducted just before the end of 2020 expect first-time shoppers to represent over a quarter of their total traffic in 2021.

We should expect by this summer that customers will be hoping COVID-19 restrictions will be relaxed just enough so they can enjoy local travel and outdoor activities. 

For July 4 weekend, families will be thinking ahead about their imminent purchases, ranging from grills for family cookouts, inflatable pools and swimmies for the kids, and tents and backpacks for that camping trip they’ve been craving. 

They’ll be planning ahead and stocking up on food and picnic supplies, toys, summer clothing, patriotic merchandise, and more. 

#2. Amazon Prime Day May Overlap with 4th of July Shopping in 2021

Then there’s the moving target that is Amazon Prime Day. 

Usually held mid-July, the online marketplace behemoth pushed last year’s annual mega event back to October 13-14. Amazon Prime Day sales jumped from $7.16 billion to 10.4 billion U.S. dollars worldwide during the event, and effectively triggered an early start to consumer holiday season shopping[*].

For eCommerce and digital teams, making the most of Q4 meant planning earlier than ever and getting ahead for their marketing content calendar and being ready for a longer and shallower holiday period

The industry is watching and waiting to see when Amazon will decide to hold Prime Day this year — the online marketplace tends to keep its cards close to its vest and announce it’s 2-day promotional event just a few weeks ahead. 

There’s a good chance that Prime Day will return to its traditional slot in the first or second week of July — that will mean intense competition[*].

We’ll touch on just how important the timing of this event should influence your 4th of July promotion plans a little later in this guide, but before that, a look at how last year’s Independence Day performed will also shine a light that can help you plan for success in any scenario.

 

4th of July eCommerce Data: Can 2020 Results Give eCommerce Brands a Heads Up for 2021?

With COVID-19 looking to be a factor again this coming 4th of July, what can retail brands take from last year’s eCommerce results so they can smartly plan their promotions strategy in advance?

We honed in on our consumer session data to see how eCommerce traffic and conversion KPIs performed for several industries performed on the 4th of July compared to the month leading up to it last year, as well as how these results stacked up against week leading up to and including July 4 in 2019.

Independence Day 2020 eCommerce Traffic & Conversion Results

 Looking at results on Independence Day itself, it’s not surprising to see industries offering essentials like food groceries seeing the biggest surges in traffic last year, with online supermarkets seeing 4 times the conversions compared July 4,2019. Less people were browsing for electronics and luxury items on Independence Day.

But when looking  at how this traffic converted, electronics retailers actually converted at a notably higher rate — pointing to higher purchase intent for customers that visited sites in this product vertical last July 4.

Other industries that increased traffic translate into higher conversion rates than the previous than the previous 4th of July were homeware (+16.5%) and footwear (+13.8%)

But 4th of July is not just about same-day shopping! How did eCommerce Sales KPIs the week of Independence Day compare vs. 2019?

We stretched out KPI performance data to see which industries also saw spikes in year-over-year sales and conversion rates in the 7-day period leading up to and including last 4th of July weekend.

Aside from across-the-board increases seen by online supermarkets (up 446%), health and beauty (up 192%), and homeware (up 143%), consumer electronics retailers actually netted over 21% more conversions, and saw conversion rates lift by 30.9% from June 28-July 5 last year, vs. the same period in 2019. For electronics brands, being ready to roll out promotions weeks ahead is pivotal to engaging customers when they’re ready to complete their 4th of July shopping.

Footwear retailers also saw these KPIs rise during this span compared to the same period in 2019, with online sales up 85% year-to-year.

Seeing that more industries saw yearly eCommerce KPIs increase the week before 4th of July last year, we wanted to see how much greater they performed on July 4 2020 when looking a month back. 

If we look back just a little more at the month building up to last Independence Day, it’s clear that in most industries, Americans are not leaving their 4th of July shopping to the last minute. For several industries, including fashion and apparel, footwear, homeware, and health and beauty, spending on July 4 itself did not match or exceed the daily average for the 31 days leading up to it. 

There were two big exceptions to this, one which by now could be expected, the other a bit more surprising. Online supermarkets still raked in more sales and converted at a higher rate on July 4 than the previous 31-day average. 

But while online conversions for electronics retailers were in-step with other industries and did not match daily conversions for the month leading up to it, conversion rates were 79% higher. This reinforces that American consumers are more intent on purchasing consumer electronics during this time.

Get Ahead of the Competition By Launching Your Promotions Early

These data insights reinforces that while shoppers do take advantage of promotions in the days leading up to and including Independence Day, they’re still locking in purchases earlier and buying steadily before they are a week out from the 4th of July. 

That’s why to maximize the potential of your 4th of July promotions, consider launching your 4th of July marketing campaigns and promotions up to three weeks before Independence Day. 

This enables your team to:

  • Engage your eCommerce visitors with personalized promotions
  • Give your customers a compelling reason to check off their 4th of July shopping list sooner
  • Preempt the competition — including Amazon by helping customers stock up even earlier before this year’s holiday weekend

>> Use the free 3-Stage Sales Promotion Strategy Blueprint for Top Retailers to drive 10X growth

Many of the products on your customers’ Independence Day shopping lists are significant buys they’ll want to lock in ahead of time — so planning the types of promotions that will best fit your target segments in advance will be extra important this year..

To make the most of your promotional campaigns, you’ll want to consider several factors that impact how both your returning and first-time shoppers will respond to different discount amounts and type of promotions altogether.

But while it may seem easy to apply discounts for most of your customer segments to boost sales, you’ll want to take the bigger picture into account and think about how you can use this event not just to increase conversions but also to continue your customers’ journey and strengthen their relationship with your brand. 

 

4th of July Marketing Ideas for a Profitable Independence Day  

July 4 weekend, you can plan promotions that will still motivate customers to move forward in the journey while adapting to the new normal — and without compromising your margins.

Here are some strategies that can help eCommerce brands find the sweet spot with their promotions strategy for Indepence Day:

#1. Use innovations that automatically diversify promotions based on real-time customer intent

While most brands have implemented personalized promotions at some level, very few have been pleased with the results, with 85% of eCommerce managers dissatisfied with their current promotion strategy. 

Most solutions in the market still rely on rule-based, demographic, or behavioral segments to determine what type of promotion or discount level to offer a shopper visiting an online store. 

They don’t capture each shopper’s likelihood to purchase in real time, nor does the incentive they recommend take into account the business’s margins, inventory and other factors that impact profitability. 

The result? Online brands end up relying too heavily on discounts, which lose them slowly but surely weaken their brand reputation and equity.

Making use of AI-driven technology lets digital teams deploy promotions that are based on a customer’s real-time intent on each and every visit, determining precisely the right incentive at the right moment that will motivate them to convert. 

In parallel, the technology should also sync up with the company’s business results to offer the minimal promotion needed, the accurate incentive type, according to inventory needs. 

Here’s how autonomous promotions based on intent impacted key 2020 4th of July promotion results for a leading global retailer of denim jeans. 

  • On the 4th of July, customers presented with these individualized promotions converted 14.5% higher than their control group. 
  • Their average revenue per user (ARPU) also improved by 11.3%
  • They were able to achieve these results all while offering an average discount amount of just 3.4%!


Learn more about Intent-Based Promotions

Being able to launch promotions that harmonize both your businesses needs and those of your customers in tandem can empower you with a true competitive advantage well ahead of Indepence Day.

#2. Create Tutorial Videos for your July 4 Promotions

Tutorial works. Whether it’s setting up (safely!) for neighborhood fireworks or your first barbecue grill, or propping up your tents and camping gear, there are plenty of popular July 4 weekend items that your customers would love visual tips on how to get them up and running as quickly as possible. 

Tutorial videos are a great way to engage potential customers (and also existing ones) on multiple channels, and enhance your promotions on your July 4 promotion landing pages, social media campaign, and email marketing.

Here’s a great example of how American outdoor recreation brand REI Co-op uses tutorial videos to make secure a tent a breeze for their audience.

Tutorial videos check off all the boxes: they allow you to highlight your products while helping dispel any hesitation customers have by showing them how conveniently set them up. Real value and compelling video footage = a winning combination that can help drive your first-time shopping journeys forward, while enhancing brand loyalty with your repeat customers — and boost your July 4 weekend sales.

#3. Give new shoppers a reason to join the club

Leading health and beauty brand Sephora finds creative ways to promote it’s Beauty Insider loyalty program to grow long-term customer loyalty. Sephora displays a diverse set of product promotions on it’s website and helps customers lose their hesitation. 

Here they communicate compelling reasons for first-time shoppers to convert by using the persuasive power of the word “free” strategically.

 

Offering relevant physical products as an incentive can often be more powerful than just discounting an item alone. Here, Sephora is bringing the brick-and-mortar experience of sampling testers to consumers online, which is genius as they get it free anyhow, no margins cut here. They also incentivize free shipping which helps increase their AOV.

They also use content to attract existing customers to join their Beauty Insider rewards program by offering points-based incentives — an effective alternative to heavily discounting merchandise that helps set the stage for loyal members and repeat shoppers.

#4. Fine-tune your BOGO strategy to while protecting your margins

Have inventory that’s proving to slow to clear out? Buy One Get One (BOGO) is a tried and true way to sell off merchandise and make room for new stock. 

Pro tip: Why not adjust this strategy to increase conversion even with items that are in-season? 

Retail giant Target has used a BOGO strategy with swimwear and multiple product categories that are very much current for both 4th of July and the start of the summer season.

 

Offer excess inventory to shoppers that are likely to purchase, throughout the year 

#5. Recognize Independence Day with your Email Campaigns While Staying On-Brand

True fact: Not all 4th of July promotions have to be star spangled and draped red, white and blue to resonate with your customers. 

Your email promotions can convey patriotism and offer value without coming off cheesy and distorting your brand language. 

Here’s an example of how global fashion and accessories brand Michael Kors pulls this off with an incentive of free shipping and returns in return for joining their rewards program.

#6. Make Sure Your Customers Actually Experience Your Promotions the Way You Designed Them

The headline you just read sounds pretty straightforward — Taking the data in this guide, you plan ahead, fine-tune your strategy, design your perfect promotions and deploy… right? There’s one obstacle standing in the way of your customers from seeing your promotions as you created them: Customer Journey Hijacking.

For years now, this problem targets a large portion of eCommerce shoppers by inserting unauthorized ads into free desktop software, browser extensions and apps. 

As the leader in Customer Hijacking Prevention, our customer session data shows that industry-wide, 20% of all eCommerce visitors in 2020 were impacted by these disruptive ad injections, which display relevant competitor offers and promotions. 

Below, we can see the hijacking rates for several industries for the 7 days spanning last 4th of July weekend:

 

Removing these disruptions from your customer journey helps make sure your customers see exactly the same promotions your team invests so much time and effort into creating. 

The result? Here’s how industry conversion rates in the same period performed for recovered visitors (those impacted by ad injection blocked by Namogoo) against the rest of the pack (visitors not affected by ad injections):


Looking at the above results, eliminating this problem is one of the simplest and most impactful ways you can remove hesitation from your customer journey and increase revenue — on 4th of July and year in, year out.

The Time to Light the Spark for Your 4th of July Strategy is Now

Timing, diversity, and focusing on individual needs will all be crucial to setting your brand apart from the pack this coming 4th of July promotion season. 

The data and industry insights in this guide show that earlier planning should equal greater success with your online promotions for Independence Day this year. 

Diversifying the types of promotions according to your shoppers needs  according to their stage of the buying journey will allow you to deepen loyalty with existing customers while capturing first-time shoppers. 

Getting a head start by leveraging innovative technology to automate this process will translate into increased conversion and revenue and lower promotion costs while strengthening your brand.

Talk to our Intent-Based Promotion experts