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 the 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 of 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 2023 will no doubt look different than in years past. Recession risks worldwide, due to inflation and rising interest rates, are impacting online shopping behavior dramatically.[*]
Many industries, however, can still expect a profitable 4th of July, and retailers today have years of history lessons they can look to when planning their sales promotion strategy. That’s not all. By harnessing the power of data and the right technologies, brands can guarantee not only frictionless shopping experiences but also highly relevant customer journeys that maximize your resources.
That’s why, on this year’s Independence Day, we’ve assembled this guide — to help eCommerce and digital teams understand the factors impacting consumer behavior and arm them with the insights to launch campaigns that’ll both meet their customers’ needs and business goals.
4th of July Online Shopping Forecast for 2023
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 2023, there are two factors to consider:
- The global recession
- Amazon Prime Day 2023
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 Impending Recession Will Impact This 4th of July Ecommerce Sales
With prices rising more rapidly than incomes in many parts of the world, inflation is expected to further dampen consumers’ spirits. Consider these statistics from a PwC survey[*] conducted in February 2023:
- 50% of consumers are extremely or very concerned about their personal financial situation
- Fully 96% of consumers intend to adopt cost-saving behaviors over the next six months
- 42% of shoppers expect to significantly decrease their spending across all retail categories
- In groceries, 24% said they plan to decrease spending, compared with 12% in the prior survey
While there are many reasons for a retailer to be nervous when planning their 4th of July marketing campaigns, Independence Day, along with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Mother’s Day, will still be the most widely celebrated holidays this year, with nine-in-ten US consumers planning to celebrate each. Also, more than half of Independence Day shoppers plan to spend over $50 on their celebrations.[*]
Even as shoppers adopt money-saving measures such as buying items on sale, buying less, and using more coupons, they’re planning to spend big on certain categories. The May 2023 update on the state of the US consumer published monthly by McKinsey found that 41% of consumers are still engaging in ‘selective indulgence.’ The top five categories shoppers intend to splurge on are restaurants, groceries, travel, apparel, and beauty and personal care.[*]
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 2023
Then there’s the moving target that is Amazon Prime Day.
Usually held in mid-July, Amazon Prime Day sales last year jumped from $11.19 billion to $12.09 billion worldwide, and effectively triggered an early start to consumer holiday season shopping.
For eCommerce and digital teams, making the most of Q3 and Q4 meant planning earlier than ever, getting ahead of 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 its 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[*].
4th of July Marketing Ideas for a Profitable Independence Day
This coming July 4 weekend, you can plan promotions and launch various tactics that will motivate customers to move forward in the journey while adapting to the impact of a potential recession — and without compromising your margins.
Here are some strategies that can help eCommerce brands find the sweet spot with their promotions strategy for Independence Day:
#1. Get Ahead of the Competition by Launching Your Promotions Early
With 73% of consumers beginning to shop for the 4th of July at least one week in advance,[*] you can maximize the potential of your promotions by launching your 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
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.
#2. 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, and 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%!
Being able to launch promotions that harmonize both your business needs and those of your customers in tandem can empower you with a true competitive advantage well ahead of Independence Day.
#4. Take Advantage of Social Proof and Give New Shoppers a Reason to Join the Club
Discounting is, without a doubt, powerful in influencing purchase decisions – but at other times, it’s not everything. According to Google, behavioral science principles and related strategies such as displaying high-star ratings or attractive free delivery and return were more effective than a 10% discount in influencing choice across categories among U.S. consumers.[*]
This is exactly what Nordstrom has on its website.
Moreover, the retailer finds creative ways to promote its The Nordy Club loyalty program to grow long-term customer loyalty. Offering relevant add-on services like free alternations and first access to sales and workshops as incentives can often be more powerful than just discounting an item alone.
Nordstrom also invites loyalty club members to exclusive events such as anniversary fashion shows to encourage existing customers to continue participating in the program. This is an effective and more fun alternative to heavily discounting merchandise on the site that helps set the stage for loyal members and repeat shoppers.
#5. Create Relatable Videos for Your July 4 Promotions
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.
Lifestyle videos that incorporate product demos and tutorials 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 lifestyle videos to showcase items related to cookouts, a popular activity during the 4th of July.
Lifestyle videos with tutorial elements check off all the boxes: they allow you to highlight your products while helping dispel any hesitation customers have by demonstrating how they work. 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 boosting your July 4 weekend sales.
#6. Leverage Intent for Your Site Announcements to Promote the Right Merchandise
There are particular products that Independence Day shoppers are looking for. From having a backyard movie night to visiting a national monument, the 4th of July weekend is typically filled with activities that your customers are going to want to prepare for. So, make it easy for them to find on your site the exact products they’re looking for.
One way to do that is to create 4th of July product collections, just like what H&M already has on its website. The retailer also makes it eye-catching for price-conscious shoppers by adding an amount to the tile of the collection. This way, you can instantly attract customers who have a specific budget, delivering them relevant products at a price point they’re comfortable with.
To take it a step further, you can leverage real-time data to direct shoppers to places on your site you want them to see.
By combining intent and segments to build custom announcements, you can identify which of your site visitors are Independence Day shoppers and lead them to the most relevant merchandise. They’re likely shopping for in-season items such as swimwear, travel accessories, and merchandise related to outdoor activities that are very much current for both 4th of July and the start of the summer season.
#7. Optimize Shopping Extensions and Win Big with Coupon-Chasing Customers
If shopping extension affiliates help you drive more traffic and conversations, you can get to the bottom line of how each affiliate extension impacts your metrics.
One way that you can leverage data gathered by an extensions management tool is to analyze and understand shopper behavior, and then, optimize the way you run your promotions campaign. For instance, you can pinpoint bargain hunters because they frequently use coupons, and make sure they’re always seeing the best deals.
With shoppers planning to adopt cost-saving measures as recession looms in the background, this is a cost-effective way that not only makes the most out of your budget, but also ensures that shoppers are getting the most value out of their customer journeys with your brand.
#8. Recognize Independence Day with Your Email Campaigns While Staying On-Brand
Fact: Not all 4th of July promotions must 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 as cheesy and distorting your brand language.
Here’s an example of how the dog boarding and walking website Rover pulls this off with a reminder to email subscribers to book ahead before the 4th of July sitters are gone.
#9. 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, 22% of all eCommerce visitors in 2022 were impacted by these disruptive ad injections, which display relevant competitor offers and promotions.
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.
Eliminating unauthorized ad injections is one of the simplest and most impactful ways you can remove hesitation from your customer journey and increase revenue — on the 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: First, earlier planning should equal more significant success. Second, diversifying the types of promotions and shopping experiences according to your shoppers’ needs and 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.