All posts by qSample

Type of Questions To Keep Respondents Engaged

When conducting quantitative research, market researchers and programmers need to be mindful of survey fatigue. This is a problem that occurs when individuals get tired or bored while taking a survey, which often leads to the survey not being completed or terrible data quality. Surveys designed with aesthetically pleasing elements and interactive tools tend to keep respondents’ engaged and reduce survey drop-out rates. In addition to to the aesthetics of the survey, research practitioners can implement dynamic questions with captivating interfaces. These varying question styles foster interaction between the respondents and the survey. Dynamic questions also serve as alternatives to single select, grid, rating and open-ended questions, which often can be tedious and unstimulating for the respondent. Therefore, we have compiled a list of question styles that can add variety to a survey and minimize fatigue.


Keeping respondents engaged can be achieved by using slider style questions, which allow respondents to answer a question on a scale by dragging an interactive slider. This is an alternative to rating scale questions since users can interact and create unique distinctions through comparisons among related items.

Sliders questions are not as beneficial when there is little to no interrelationship between question topics. For example, when asking a set of attitude statements that are not related.

 In the example, there is no relationship between the three questions options. When using a slider question it is important to understand that respondents will make relative comparisons among related items. If there is no relationship between the items, it will be more beneficial to use another type of survey question such as multiple choice.

Image Heat Map

Another way keep respondents engaged is by using an image heat map question. This type of question allows users to identify the areas they like or dislike about a specific image. This type of question provides flexibility and has a number of potential applications. For example, it can help collect feedback on a new website layout. Using an image heat map facilitates feedback through interactions and sustain user engagement.

Rank Sort

Rank sort questions are another alternative to keep respondents alert and engaged by using visual indicators. This type of question allows respondents to rank items by clicking or dragging them into the desired order. This offers an alternative method to numerical inputs which respondents might find tedious. The use of visual indicators provide the respondent with an interactive experience and can improve survey participation.

Card Sort

Another question style that promotes interaction is card sort questions. This question style serves as an efficient alternative to grid questions, where a list of attributes are rated on a scale. For card sort questions, respondents are shown animated text or images, one at a time. The respondents are able to drag these elements into the desired category. This allows the collection of multiple data points while mitigating fatigue and dropouts.

In sum, survey fatigue is an ongoing problem in the data collection process. When crafting a survey, researchers need to keep in mind their audience and the type of questions needed to minimize survey fatigue. Collecting quality data relies on respondents’ engagement, therefore the use of interactive questions will improve participation rates, minimize dropouts and ultimately keep respondents engaged.


Think Like a Consumer: Knowing your Audience


In today’s technology-driven landscape, consumers can have a packaged delivered to their door with a few clicks of a button and information can be disseminated across multiple platforms in a matter of seconds. The most pivotal shift is that consumers are keeping up with all of these advances with mobile phones. Today’s consumers have adopted a lifestyle where they are juggling multiple tasks, interests, and responsibilities. Retailers, media outlets, and other companies are all competing for the consumers’ attention and research panel providers are not exempt.  To attract the right respondents to join a panel, panel providers must adopt the mindset of the consumer. Consumers’ lifestyle, habits, and preferences mold the way respondents participate in research.

Moreover, social media plays a large role in the general consumer’s lifestyle and their behavior models the usage of various online technology platforms. Aside from socializing with friends and family, social platforms are a place to become informed about news, events, and products as well as share opinions.  According to a 2016 study conducted by Facebook, the average person spends about 50 minutes using Facebook or Facebook platforms daily. Social media platforms are attractive to consumers and to mirror this same magnetic approach, online panel providers must establish their company’s presence on social media platforms, to attract respondents to participate in research.

It is imperative that the platforms that respondents utilize align with the convenience consumers are accustomed to when using social media or other mobile platforms. Consumers have become acclimated to simplified platforms that are easy to use on both computers and mobile devices. It is important to match this same sense of convenience, even when it comes to research data collection.

In sum, the ability to think like a consumer and become familiar with the audience will attract respondents to participate in a panel and ultimately increase response rates to studies. The general consumer is gathering information, making purchases, and socializing in a fast paced environment that is accessible through online platforms and mobile devices. The attraction to platforms that are fast and simple has become a standard expectation. Research panel providers use this familiarity with the consumer as a way to recruit panelist, keep them engaged, and ultimately increase survey response rates for clients.


Top 5 Healthcare Trends Impacting Market Research in 2017

The healthcare industry is always evolving based on changes in the public landscape. The sensitivity to consumers’ needs and perceptions is quintessential to the success of new develops in healthcare. The new year introduces a new set of trending topics that yearn to be explored through market research. Therefore we have compiled the top five trends that will impact market research strategies in 2017.

1.Emerging Technologies

As emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and drones become more common, the healthcare industry will be adopting these new technologies. These developments will have a direct impact on business models, operations, and cybersecurity. Healthcare organizations will have an increased need to understand the outcomes and potential risks that these emerging technologies will have on their operations and consequently their patients. In order to target this new business venture, market researchers need to employ strategies that will directly answer the implications of these new technologies.

2. Nutrition and Population Health

Health organizations are now focusing on nutrition as a way to prevent costly medical problems and improve the overall health of the population. The start of a new year presents an opportunity for individuals to get back in shape and an avenue for healthcare organizations to fuel innovation in the nutrition sector. Market researchers have another avenue to focus on healthcare providers’ perception and promotion of new methods and practices among individuals. The research that is conducted on this topic will need to be creative and induce innovative ways to find solutions to the matter at hand.

3.Consumer Skepticism and the Rise in Non-Traditional Methods

Consumers are having an increased lack of trust in traditional health system due to the more side effects and potentially toxic ingredients found in traditional methods. The increase competition and lack of trust from consumers have encouraged healthcare organizations to provide high-quality services that meet consumers demands.

This new trend associated with lack of consumer trust and increase use of non-traditional methods is a profitable avenue to adjust market research strategies and target those organizations looking to increase their brand loyalty. A good way to approach this trend is by providing healthcare organizations research objectives that will provide a solution to increase consumers’ trust.

4.Patient-Centric Health Systems

There has been a shift from fragmented health care models to integrated approaches. Now organizations, communities, and social care providers have united their efforts to provide integrated services to patients.

In order to provide integrated services, healthcare organizations need to create sustainable business models and integrate technologies that enhance interconnectivity. This is another avenue where  organizations can change their existing market research strategies and provide a methodology that will allow potential clients to find solutions to their business needs.

5.Aging Population

The increase of technological advances have provided means to increase life expectancy across the globe. As generations grow older, long-term care and chronic diseases services will be in higher demand. Research is necessary in order to understand the implications and needs of this aging population. Therefore, this presents an excellent opportunity to adjust market research strategies that will increase the knowledge base of the Baby Boomer population.

In sum, the healthcare industry will see a great amount of changes in 2017, with the emerge of new technologies, innovations, and transformative business models. The new trends in the healthcare industry will provide several opportunities for market researchers to explore the professional and public perception in regards to these developments and trends. Market research conducted with research panels will provide ample insights that can propel and refine new findings within the healthcare industry.

Best Moments in Research of 2016

As 2016 comes to an end, we have been doing a bit of reflection and making New Year’s resolutions  along with the rest of you. All year long we have been researching an array of topics and presenting them in our distinctive qSample style. We have conducted research with both our general panel and specialty panels, in order to share key findings in a multitude of industries. This year has been amazing and we already have plenty of new topics to explore in 2017. As always, if you have any studies you will like to conduct using online sample just send us a  message. However, if you are looking for more research ideas or just curious of our finding, check out our best infographics of 2016.

Ingredients To Surveys Consumers Will Actually Want To Take

We started 2016  by sharing insights on how to create a survey that warrants the best response. We are experts in crafting surveys to gather optimum results, so we wanted to share some of our strategies with you. Always remember that you want to keep the participant engaged. This can involve incentives and survey design. Also, if you need sample to conduct your survey we are always here to help. This infographic was a great starting point to our year and we hope that it is helpful to you in 2017.

 Mind Blowing Text Message Statistics

We took the opportunity to explore a commonly overlooked form of marketing – text messages. Text messaging applications are the most used app on smartphones, however they are not a popular platform for email marketing campaigns. This infographic may persuade you to focus more on mobile marketing efforts.

Outlook: Presidential Election 2016

We could not neglect one of the most landmark events of 2016. As the president of qSample, Rudly Raphael says “presidential elections are known to provide good theater…but this year was filled with some interesting twist and turns.” We conduct a survey with our voters panel to predict the results among the general population in comparison to the battleground state of Florida. We followed up with a blog that evaluated polling methodologies titled “Whose Poll is Right?”. We expect our voters panel to thrive as 2017 represents a major year of transition on the political scene.

Pet Food Trends: Humanizing or Jeopardizing the Health of Your Pets?

Our veterinarian  specialty panel truly makes us unique when it come online sample. We decided to survey the panel on their thoughts about  major pet food trends. Consumers are currently bombarded with endless pet food options. We learned that veterinarians still recommend scientifically formulated pet foods. Find out why in the infographic.

You Only Live Once: Millennials’ Travel Spending Habits

Most recently we conducted a survey of travel spending habits of each generation. We discovered that millennials are not as impulsive as we may think. They take more time to plan their trips than any other age demographic. That was just one of our many interesting findings. We followed this study by researching in-flight purchases and brand loyalty. Keep this research in mind as you pursue your travels in 2017.

As you can see we were very busy in 2016. Our resolution for the new year, is to research even more pivotal shift in market research and continue to provide the best online sample out there. Happy New Year, we hope to partner with you on a research project in 2017!


For more information about how to conduct research with us, please email

Learning from the Best: Stellar Email Marketing Campaigns


Having fresh and updated tactics for email marketing campaigns is a constant goal for companies. As time passes new technology emerges, consumers engage in more trends, and competition arises. Consequently, there is an ever-growing need to keep up with the most successful campaigns and better yet, understand how they achieve their success.

Looking back at 2016, we have compiled the best marketing efforts that have optimize email campaigns and inspired current marketing efforts.


Launched in 2009, the car-sharing app Uber has been creating numerous possibilities for riders, financial opportunities for drivers, and making the service available in more cities. The company has an outstanding way of enriching their customers’ experiences by building email campaigns with unique offers. Subscribers are constantly being provided with new offers, free rides, and rewards. Uber has even offered their customers ice cream on a hot day and roses for Valentine’s Day.

Uber’s email content is characterized by a simple and concise style, which is perfect for those email subscribers who are quickly skimming their emails. The company uses this simplistic approach to increase consumer engagement and retention by providing a main subject line at the beginning of the message. This subject line presents the core message of the email, in case subscribers are not willing to read all of the content. Also, the content is followed by a call to action button that stands out from the copy of the email,  this grabs the readers’ attention and encourage them to want to learn more about the offer.

The success of Uber’s email campaigns relies on the integration of all their marketing assets. The company’s email campaigns mimic the app interface and incorporate the brand’s strategy in their content and design. Brand consistency is one of the tactics the company has optimized in order to gain brand loyalty.


Grubhub is a web-based mobile company that allows users to order food from a wide variety of restaurants in close proximity to the user. The company has excelled in the food delivery service and has become the number one choice for many Americans across the country. Grubhub’s marketing efforts are characterized by implementing catchy subject lines aligned with current events. These efforts can mainly be seen on the company’s email marketing campaigns.

Grubhub approach for their email content is captivating and catchy. The copy of the email is casual but its main purpose is to build relationships and engagement with current and new customers. The company’s call to actions are seamlessly placed in the email surrounded by high quality pictures. This guides the customers’ eyes to the “order now” buttons. Another aspect of the company’s marketing campaign is the frequency of their messages, Grubhub sends a variety of message to their customers informing them about newly added restaurants, promotions, and even when its raining outside.

The success of Grubhub email campaigns relies on the ingenuity of creating impactful content from day to day activities.


As a leading provider of online software, QuestionPro’s platform allows users to generate the insights they need to make better decisions. The company provides a wide variety of tools for polling and data visualization. Conducting research can be an arduous task, but QuestionPro’s email invitation survey has been carefully crafted to guide respondents through the survey process and ultimately increase survey response rates.

The survey administration process begins with an email invitation. The company has developed a simple and effective approach to encourage their respondents to take the survey. It all starts with a catchy subject line that increases the chances of email open rates. When opened, the email displays a clear, concise and simple message asking the respondents to take the survey. The message is followed by call to actions, which are effectively placed at the bottom of the email to drive attention to the survey link.

The success of QuestionPro’s email campaigns relies on clear call to actions and concise messages that encourage readers and respondents to take action.

Email campaigns have become an imperative tool for companies, consequently marketers have been faced with the challenge of creating campaigns that will not go directly to trash folder. In the midst of inbox clutter and increased competition, companies are trying to capture customer’s attention through different marketing efforts. The examples mentioned above, introduced several strategies that that make those companies stand out in the endless stream of messages.

Market Research is the Key Ingredient

As usual, Amazon is on the move and presenting even more great ideas. In 2017, we have plenty to look forward to when it comes to shopping. Amazon will be opening the Amazon Go store to the public in early portion of the new year. The store will be like no other grocery store. There will be no cashiers, instead shoppers will use a mobile app to enter the store, gather what they need, and walk out. This takes artificial intelligence to the next level as innovative  “walk out technology” will track what  customers placed in their shopping bags and charge their Amazon accounts for those items. They are also making strides in their drone delivery system as well . The company’s first commercial drone delivery was announced last week. As large companies like Amazon strives towards creating an easy and fast shopping platform for users, these concepts leave room to be explored through market research. Amazon is accelerating technology and influencing consumer behavior. To complete these tasks effectively and keep the momentum going, an intense amount of market research is necessary.

With every new technological update or product release, there is a sense of unpredictability with how the consumer will react. This is where market research becomes pivotal. Conducting research before, during, and after the update can help understand the consumers’ mindset and the market conditions that affect their habits. Market research can also help shape and mold product revamps. Amazon is currently conducting research internally with their employee base. The Amazon Go store is currently open to Amazon employees, this a way to test the store before it opens to the public. Once the store is open to the general population, it would be helpful to gather a diversified sample of people who have been to the store and people who have not. Collecting their thoughts and opinions through an online platform could be beneficial in understanding what would draw more people to become customers.


Consumers’ behavior is also being influenced by Amazon’s innovations. This behavior is always changing due to what is made available in the marketplace. We have seen the preference of visiting brick and mortar facilities ebb and flow as online shopping has made great advancements. Amazon has ventures in both of these avenues and because of their impact on the market, it directs consumers towards their products. For example, the drone delivery service fuels the consumer’s’ need for immediacy. Although consumers are constantly shopping online, they still want the sense of immediacy achieved when they are shopping in-store. The drone delivery system marries the comfort and ease of online shopping with the sense of immediate access. However, Amazon will still need to conduct more market research to understand how consumers perceive their idea. With mixed emotions regarding the use of drones, market research could be conducted with a sample of the general population to gather public opinion. Amazon could also gather information to establish a price point for the service that  consumers would find acceptable, whether than the consumer resulting to other delivery methods.


Ultimately, market research is the key ingredient for a company to be successful. When new products or services are  introduced into the marketplace, in-depth market research offers insights into the consumers’ mindset and predictions on how the product or service will be perceived. Market research can help a company make changes or updates that fit the consumers’ lifestyle as well as show how much they are willing to pay for it. Companies like Amazon who are constantly releasing new innovations can benefit from collecting information through on-line sample.


For more information on how to conduct market research with online sample, reach out to

Upgrade You: In-flight Services and Brand Loyalty


One of the busiest travel times of the year has finally arrived. Millions of families across the country are preparing to travel during the holidays to be reunited with their loved ones. With more than 100 million Americans traveling this holiday season, traveling can be an arduous task. In order to best accommodate travelers, airlines offer several additional services where travelers can upgrade their seats, access airline exclusive lounges, and purchase in-flight food and entertainment. This gives airlines the perfect opportunity to boost their end-of-year sales numbers. Moreover, a variety of opportunities exist to engage with travelers. Airlines need to identify new avenues to market to a tech-savvy audience and what better way to do it than understanding their spending habits. qSample conducted a study with its general consumer panel to understand travelers’ spending habits. The survey was deployed to more than 400 respondents and showed travelers’ spending habits during flights and in airports.

The data shows that 40% of travelers spend little to nothing on in-flight food and beverages. Not a surprising number since most airlines offer complimentary drinks and snacks on flights over 2.5 hours. However, airlines are losing the opportunity to extend loyalty programs through food and beverage services. Most airlines such as United Airlines and American Airlines offer snack boxes for purchase. The price of these boxes ranges from $4-$10, quite an elevated cost but sometimes these are convenient choices for busy travelers. The cost of purchasing food and beverages could be translated into mile points towards travelers’ reward accounts. Several credit card companies offer travel rewards, which are designated for airline tickets and baggage fees. This could be an excellent opportunity for airlines and credit card companies to build brand awareness and loyalty through an in-flight food and beverage reward programs.

In-flight entertainment is another service commonly offered by airlines that could be expanded to increase customer loyalty. The majority of the respondents (53%) indicated that they purchase in-flight entertainment services when traveling. On the other hand, (48%) of respondents indicated that they do not spend any money for in-flight entertainment services. The savvy travelers are planning ahead to make sure they have the latest music or movies for their flight, but the data shows that there is a large pool of travelers purchasing in-flight services. Early this fall American Airlines announced free unrestricted access to in-flight entertainment for all passengers. American Airlines is continuing to elevate the customers’ experience by adding complimentary premium movies and TV shows. Unfortunately not all airlines are able to offer free services, but they still have the opportunity to enhance the customer’s’ experience and brand loyalty by creating reward programs geared towards in-flight purchases.

Travelers are a highly valuable audience, but notoriously a difficult audience to build brand loyalty due to several factors. Most of the time travelers are looking for the best flight options in terms of price and comfort. As airfare prices increase during the holiday season, travelers are trying to find the best cost alternative. This often translates to flying with any airline that has better ticket prices, schedules, and fewer baggage fees. The majority of the respondents (70%) indicated that they pay baggage fees when traveling. A situation that might be an inconvenience for some since baggage fees represent an extra expense for frugal travelers. While is true that some airlines offer points to be redeemed towards baggage fees, this has not prevented travelers from booking their flights with other airlines.

Brand loyalty programs have been implemented to engage with new and existing consumers and create long-term relationships. As the competition increases during the holiday season, airlines are trying to capture the customers’ attention through rewards and flash deals. However, with the increased access to price information and reviews, brand loyalty has diminished. Travelers that are part of loyalty programs and redeemed their points or miles are more likely to come back to earn more miles. If airlines include in-flight purchases as part of their reward programs they could increase their brand awareness, loyalty, and revenue from additional flight amenities.



If you want to download a visual format of this blog please complete the form below.

Name (required)

Title (required)

Email (required)

For more information regarding these findings please contact:

Pink Tax: Building The Gender Price Gap?


When it comes to marketing for the female consumer there are endless possibilities. Major industries such as the fashion and beauty industry have honed in on the buying power of women and are making significant profits; more than 460 billion USD a year.  Female consumers are eager to experiment with new gadgets while staying on top of the latest trends in the industry, this why industries often release a wider variety of product offerings for women. Consequently, this has created a significant increase in consumer spending. According to the Harvard Business Review, 85 percent of all consumer spending in the US is influenced by women. With women driving most of the consumer spending, companies have taken the opportunity to add a premium price to personal care products such as razors and shampoo. This increase in price on the female version of these items has created a gender price gap known as “The Pink Tax”.

The Pink Tax is most commonly found on personal female hygiene products but has also been implemented in some service industries. According to a study conducted by The New York Department of Consumer Affairs, shampoos and conditioners marketed towards women cost an average of 48% more than those targeted for their male counterparts. Overall the study found that items advertised for females cost 42% more than those marketed towards men. Additional research done by the state of California, shows that women spend $1351 more on items and services that are not specifically women-oriented. For example, dry cleaner’s charge more to clean a woman’s shirt than a man’s shirt due to size and fabric. The premium price added to female products and the gender price gap women face have stirred the conversation on how manufacturers and marketers can reduce the pink tax phenomenon.

There are some logical reasons why women’s products cost more than men’s, even when those items look similar. For instance, manufacturers have expressed that most of women garments require more workmanships than their male equivalent. Also, the increase competition between brands in the female category justifies manufacturers increasing the price on female items; due to the high cost associated with marketing to women. In the digital era that we live today where consumers are experiencing content shock, marketers need to increase their efforts to stand out in a pool of brand pictures and names. However, this leaves the female consumer paying for the industries’ extra marketing efforts. Women are spending a significant amount for personal care needs and services just because marketers want to capitalize on gender based products.

While is true that companies have seen major avenues to target female consumers, this should not be synonymous with higher prices on basic female care products.  Congresswoman Jackie Speier has aimed to put an end to gender product pricing.Speier introduced the Pink Tax Repeal Act—a bill that prohibits companies from charging different prices for similar products or services simply based on gender. Women have also taken their opinion to social media calling for an end to the gender price gap under the hashtags #pinktax, #genderpricing, and #gendertax. A step needed since not all female consumers are aware of the so called pink tax. Also, under this campaign conscious buyers have vowed to not  purchase female care products that have a male alternative.

Marketing towards the female consumer represents several challenges for today’s marketers. Since competition in the fashion and beauty industry is fierce, company’s need to increase their marketing efforts in order to make an impact on their consumers. However, through this process, the female consumer’s wallet has been negatively impacted by the introduction of higher prices in basic care products and services.

In sum, both women and men want the same result out of most personal care products. They both want shampoo that keeps their hair conditioned and razor that offers a close shave. Lifting the gender binary on these products and simply selling the products based on product results could add a sense of neutrality in price. The reduction of the Pink Tax relies on understanding where in the supply chain is the pink tax being incurred and how can it be reduced. The introduction of new marketing strategies is also imperative, in order to diminish the cost associated with marketing towards women.

Red Cups and Consumer Behavior

In the winter of 1997, Starbucks made a permanent imprint on pop culture with one of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time – the red holiday cup. At the time, Starbucks had only 1,400 stores and had just opened their first stores outside of North America in Japan and Singapore. They were on the rise as a company, so the creative team decided to generate some excitement around the holidays and created a festive holiday cup. Almost 20 year later they have nearly 24,000 stores in 70 countries and the Starbucks red holiday cup is still creating lots of excitement. The red holiday cup has influenced consumers’ behavior, set a standard that has been a challenge for their competitors, and has created conversations surrounding the brand.

The release of the red cup paired with holiday themed beverages has become a marketing frenzy and Starbucks has reaped the financial benefits. Customers anxiously await the red cup and the artistic designs  are usually leaked prior to the actual release date. The marketing efforts start with the holiday cup, but are carried by limited edition drinks such as the salted caramel hot chocolate, eggnog mocha, and the gingerbread latte. The marketing efforts proved to be profitable with Starbucks holiday revenue increasing by 12% last year. Starbucks has perfectly timed their holiday marketing efforts with a slight price increase to compensate for their efforts. This past November several menu items increased 10 to 30 cent. Although the company did not say why prices were raised, it is presumably aligns with the holiday season. Due to the red cup and holiday menu items release, consumers’ are such in a rush to get the limited red cup and holiday themed items that they pay little attention to this price hike.

The red cup has become a trend and competitors can barely keep up with Starbucks holiday cup popularity. In order to stay competitive, Dunkin Donuts has also created festive cups for the holiday season. Dunkin Donuts changed their logo cup to a white cup decorated with the word “joy” in red script as well as Christmas stocking and snowflakes. Dunkin Donuts also released a creme brulee macchiato that is reminiscent to one of Starbucks holiday drinks. However, the enthusiasm of Starbucks consumers is still unparallel to the efforts of Dunkin Donuts. Starbucks have created a high standard that competitors are simply not reaching. The brand attachment and consumer expectations have not been phased by competitors nor controversy.

The red holiday cup is sewn into tradition and pop culture, subsequently the red cup is central in conversations both positive and negative. In 2015, Starbucks released their most controversial holiday cup. A solid red cup with no embellishment was caught in a social media firestorm. Many argued that the lackluster cup was a piece “anti-Christmas” propaganda. Some customers even decided to decorate the cup themselves and post it on social media. Despite the controversy, Starbuck’s holiday sale revenue still made a large climb. The company harnessed this energy and held a design contest for the 2016 holiday cup. This year 13 red cup designs were released, featuring designs by Starbucks customers. This is an example of how Starbucks built from last year’s controversy.

In summary, Starbucks holiday red cup has become an essential component during the holiday season. It is just as classic and memorable as your favorite holiday movie. Starbucks has used the holiday cup as a building block in their marketing campaigns and the company has grown from this marketing strategy. The red cup symbolizes the start of holiday season, which triggers and emotional brand attachment. The popularity and attachment is unchallenged by competitors. This red cup tradition is only expected to grow as 2017 will be the 20th season for the holiday red cup. Starbucks more than likely already has a plan to celebrate the milestone anniversary of their classic holiday cup.

Twelve (or more) Days of Christmas

We all know the song Twelve Days of Christmas, which tells the length of the holiday season. However, marketers have made Black Friday synonymous with “once in a lifetime deals,” leading shoppers to line up outside of stores as soon as their plates are cleared from the Thanksgiving table. From year to year retailers have the urge to top last year’s sales which have resulted in an extended holiday season. The actual start of the holiday season has been blurred by retail initiatives and marketing campaigns. This extension is causing a major ruckus in the retail and marketing landscape and is having an effect on sales and consumers’ shopping behavior.

Formerly, people travelled from near and far to hunt down the best deals the day after Thanksgiving, however now “Pre-Black Friday” and “Christmas Preview” sales are occurring shortly after Halloween. Some stores are opened on Thanksgiving day for holiday shoppers. This shows that Thanksgiving  has been ignored and marketers focus on holidays that include gift giving, numerous parties, and clothing needs. However, with the extension of the season stores are seeing less foot traffic on Black Friday and the sales are decreasing. According to RetailNext, Black Friday net sales in store have been declining. Sales dropped 1.6% last year as compared to 2014, and declined 14.1% in 2014 from the previous year. Traffic also took a dip, dropping 1.8% in 2015 versus the previous year, and 16% in 2014 as compared to 2013. The money that retailers spend on extra manpower for Black Friday and Thanksgiving shopping is losing its value. According to USA Today, nearly two-thirds of consumers stated that they began Christmas shopping before Black Friday. It is no question why Black Friday is losing some of its previous allure. However, the most immediate factor that is impacting Black Friday is online shopping.

In 2005,  Cyber Monday was introduced to pair the same shopping frenzy as Black Friday but instead on-line. Cyber Monday was not that popular in its year of inception but now has surpassed Black Friday. This year Cyber Monday sales numbers exceeded expectation reaching $3.34 billion, with nearly a third of all sales transactions taking place on a mobile device. Cyber Monday was also not excluded from the same extended holiday shopping practices set in place for Black Friday. Cyber Monday has been transformed into Cyber Week. Black Friday was traditional in-store only deals, but this has transferred into an online effort that bridges through to Cyber Monday and the rest of the week following Thanksgiving. Also, online shopping is made easier as users have access to shop on mobile applications and use mobile wallet features to get the best deals. Although holiday shopping is not over yet, we can safely predict that online shopping is going to continue to thrive throughout the remainder of the season.

Online shopping has created serious competition for Black Friday, but so has another contender – Super Saturday. The Saturday before Christmas is for all the holiday shopping procrastinators and the last-minute forgotten gift givers. Most of the time these shoppers have no time to order items online, they need gifts right away. Super Saturday has assumed the title of the busiest shopping day of the year in 2014 and 2015, surpassing Black Friday. With Christmas Eve on a Saturday this year, we will see is upheld this year.

In sum, those Twelve Days of Christmas that we are familiar with are only in song. The holiday shopping season is closer to 30 days or even 40 days since marketers are in a race to capture consumers early. Online sales have spiked over the past ten years and as technology advances we expected this to grow. With some retailers such as Amazon moving to faster shipping methods and pitching ideas such as drone delivery, online sales could stay on the rise. The holiday shopping season has gotten increasingly longer over the last few years and it seems that trend is here to stay.