PMG Digital Made for Humans

Holiday 2021: Capturing Demand Amid Record Early Holiday Shopping

November 1, 2021 | 7 min read

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PMG Insights Team

Comprised of media practitioners, retail strategists, and senior business leaders, the PMG Insights Team creates compelling thought leadership, spearheads proprietary consumer research, and drafts editorial content on the current and future state of the advertising, media, and technology industries.

According to PMG's Q4 Consumer Outlook Survey, more than 50 percent of consumers have started holiday shopping, but a notable 72 percent of consumers have not decided which brands to buy from this holiday season, representing a huge opportunity for marketers to impact buying journeys and capture share of mind and wallet with the right messaging and outreach.

  • As the holiday season gets underway, consumer excitement is building, and a majority (52 percent) have already started shopping.

  • However, most (72 percent) still have not decided which brands to buy from, representing a timely opportunity for marketers.

  • Now is the time for brands to impact buying journeys and capture share of mind and wallet.

of people have started shopping for the holidays.


How Do Consumers Feel Heading into the Holidays?

😍 Excited & Festive
47.0 %
🙂 Neutral
36.0 %
😯 Nervous
5.0 %
😣 Stressed
10.0 %
😖 Overwhelmed
2.0 %

Source: PMG x YouGov Direct Q4 Consumer Outlook Survey, 2021 (Wave 3)


Most consumers are in-market now.

They remain undecided, are ready to shop, and are primed to invest in a strong holiday season. PMG recommends an opportunistic, pull-forward approach to help capture share and/or alleviate pressures anticipated around peak shopping days.

In our analysis, early investment can yield a sales revenue increase of 7% across the 11-week holiday season.

Purchase Behavior: Decision Points, Products, and Channels

For holiday 2021, product availability is a more critical factor in consumers’ purchase decisions than ever before due to consumers paying attention to the issues surrounding the supply chain and the impact on retailers and marketers.

In mid-October, nearly two-thirds reported in-stock product, delivery dates, and the location of product as important factors in purchase decisions, with availability outpacing pricing and promotions as a top consideration—a flip from years past.

While excitement for the season and favorable pricing have made availability less of a consideration in more recent weeks (still 65 percent), it will continue to sway consumer sentiment and purchase decisions later in the season. Retailers and sellers across verticals have a greater ability to control distribution if they are in a strong inventory position.

Backfill-POVs Holiday 2021 Trends Hero-Desktop

We are seemingly breaking records every day.

For three consecutive weeks, our Q4 Consumer Outlook Survey has shown a consistent pattern: ninety percent of consumers will switch brands this holiday season when their needs are not met.

With 2020’s “shock to loyalty” persisting into this year, measurably growing the customer base and fighting to protect a brand’s core customer set versus the competition will underpin any successful holiday strategy.

of people would switch brands if their needs were not met.


Would You Switch Brands If Your Needs Were Not Met?

91.0 %
9.0 %

Source: PMG x YouGov Direct Q4 Consumer Outlook Survey, 2021 (Wave 3)

Loyal Consumers Are More Powerful Than Any Platform

At every stage of purchase consideration, consumers are looking to trusted recommendations, and loyal consumers will go to brands for information when researching products.

For discovery, inspiration and research, people are considering an array of platforms and channels to influence their decisions, but critically, as they get closer to the point of purchase, large ecommerce platforms are gaining mindshare week-over-week.


Where Do You Discover New Products and Find Inspiration?







Source: PMG x YouGov Direct Q4 Consumer Outlook Survey, 2021 (Wave 3)

Consumers Are Shopping Earlier Than Ever

PMG’s Q4 Customer Outlook Survey findings show that as of November 1, shoppers are beginning to ramp up their holiday purchase behavior and feeling a growing sense of urgency to shop, with availability and convenience more of a priority than ever.

At this moment, marketers have an opportunity to capture share starting today, lowering dependency on peak promotional days to hit ambitious sales goals. Similar to 2020, as consumers move from consideration to purchase, they are increasingly looking for a one-stop shop, whether it be Amazon or other wholesale sites, to complete transactions.

For mono-brand retailers, in particular, this is a critical moment to deliver messaging that helps convey the benefits of a direct purchase and invest in mindshare as consumers move from consideration to purchase.

We See Three Opportunities to Jump on Today:

The holiday sprint is on. Brands that remain agile, capitalize on competitive advantages, and stay in tune with shifting consumer expectations can win the moment.


Pull budget forward, invest early, and flex to performance


Further diversify how customers are reached


Actively pursue and measure market share and customer growth

About PMG’s Q4 Customer Outlook

PMG’s Q4 Consumer Outlook Survey was conducted on YouGov Direct. 800 U.S. adults 18+ were surveyed via three waves on:

  • W1: October 13, 2021 between 11:11 AM and 6:08 PM Eastern time

  • W2: October 20, 2021 between 11:59 AM and 2:42 PM Eastern time

  • W3: October 27, 2021 between 10:06 AM and 1:40 PM Eastern time

Data is weighted on age, gender, education level, political affiliation and ethnicity to be nationally representative of adults 18+ in the United States. The margin of error is approximately 5.6%, 5.5% and 5.5% (respectively for W1, W2, and W3).

This information was last updated November 11, 2021