Combining offline & online data to win with holiday shoppers

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At Foursquare, offline behavior is central to everything we do. We understand how people move around the world, track changes in foot traffic over time, and help brands capitalize on those trends. Now more than ever, marketers are relying on location data to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on real-world consumer behavior.

Online behavior can be an incredibly powerful supplement to location data – expanding reach, unlocking new types of audiences and phases of the buyer journey previously difficult to reach with location alone, and ultimately improving performance. With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s essential for marketers to understand consumers’ online behaviors and interests in order to drive sales online as well as in stores.

During these unprecedented times, the powerful combination of online and offline data can help marketers navigate the holiday season in a changed world – enabling marketers to capitalize on times when peaks in shopping may occur, identify ways to stand apart from the crowd, and accurately target the right shoppers in the moments that matter most during a holiday season unlike any before.

Amplifying Holiday Retail Marketing

One key industry that benefits from online interest data is retail. Online interest data unlocks new insights around a variety of different retail shoppers. With our online interest targeting capabilities, savvy retail marketers can extend targeting beyond just those who have been seen at specific retail stores or shopping malls, reaching consumers who have been observed engaging with specific retail content online, such as reviews, ratings, and more.

Whether you’re a warehouse store looking to reach wholesale shoppers, a toy brand looking to reach young parents, or an apparel brand looking to target affluent Millennial shoppers this holiday season, online interest data can reveal the powerful insights needed to reach these customers in the places they go, allowing brands to conquest from competitors, or reach new customers with relevant moment-based messaging.

Let’s take a closer look at how location data and online interest data can help you win with wholesale, toy and luxury shoppers this holiday season.

Wholesale Shoppers

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, we saw a notable uptick in traffic to retail categories that allow for one-stop-shopping, indicating that people are more likely to visit big box and warehouse stores over making multiple trips to specialty retailers as a result of the pandemic. As we continue to keep a close eye on consumer behavior, we anticipate that wholesale stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club will continue to be top of mind destinations for holiday shoppers this year.

Consumers who have expressed interest in shopping wholesale (via their online behaviors, such as shares, searches, comments and likes) can include a wide swath of people with varying lifestyles and preferences. For example, our data shows these shoppers may be:

  • non-office workers who frequent courthouses (+23%), police stations (+19%),and fire stations (+12%), .
  • students who frequent trade schools (+74%), medical schools (+39%), college libraries (+26%), and law schools (+13%).
  • suburban parents who spend their days shuttling the kids from nursery schools (+34%), Chuck E. Cheese’s (+31%), and gymnastics gyms (+19%).
  • casual diners who dine out at T.G.I. Friday’s (+57%), Ruby Tuesday (+42%), and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (+21%).
  • hosts & guests who pick up entertaining essentials from flower shops (+16%), gourmet shops (+14%), beer stores (+12%), and cheese shops (+11%).

Wholesale clubs should consider leveraging online and offline data together to connect with their most loyal customers. Alternatively, big box, grocery, convenience and specialty retailers may want to conquest these shoppers to win share of holiday shopping visits.

Toy Shoppers

Foot traffic to toy & game stores has picked up less quickly compared with other specialty retail categories since the pandemic began. This slower recovery in foot traffic may indicate that toy shoppers are more likely to search and shop online as a result of the pandemic, making it particularly important to think about online behaviors this holiday season. However, location is still highly relevant, and can be leveraged to identify different types of parents – new parents, suburban parents, working parents – based on their offline behaviors. Understanding who these parents are and where they go in the physical world can help savvy marketers drive them to shop online.

Analyzing these users’ offline behaviors, our data confirms what you might expect – toy shoppers may be parents of young children, and can be found at daycares, preschools and indoor play areas. Perhaps less expected, these consumers are more likely to be pet owners, in search of new toys for their beloved furry friends. They’re more likely than the average consumer to visit pet stores (+16%) like Pet Valu (+31%), Pet Supplies Plus (+28%), Petco (+16%) and PetSmart (+8%).

They likely enjoy planning a family outing to bowling alleys (+18%), mini golf courses (+16%), and arcades, like Chuck E. Cheese’s (+28%). After a long day of family fun, these parents may be likely to pick up dinner from their favorite pizza place (+7%) such as MOD Pizza (+24%) or Papa Murphy’s (+23%) on the way home. Savvy marketers looking to reach this audience should align with family friendly activities via real-time targeting, creative messaging, or strategic partnership.

Toy shoppers may also be in the market to rent or purchase a family-friendly vehicle this holiday season. Our data shows that consumers who have expressed online interest in shopping for toys are more likely to visit some auto dealerships, such as Mazda (+28%), Volkswagen (+18%), and Subaru (+15%), more than others like BMW (-14%), Mercedes-Benz (-16%), and Tesla (-18%).

Luxury Shoppers

The combination of online and offline signals enables marketers to better identify, understand and reach consumers with different holiday shopping budgets.

For example, we’re able to isolate and analyze consumers who have expressed interest in shopping for luxury goods. These consumers are more likely to be jetsetters, shopping and planning for winter vacations. They’re more likely than the average consumer to visit travel lounges (+21%), resorts (+18%), hotels (+17%), and ski lodges (+13%). In 2020 they may choose to take the more scenic route, traveling by car rather than plane. These shoppers are more likely to rent a vehicle from rental car locations such as National (+24%) and Avis (+10%). They may also be planning to tune up their own vehicle in advance of a road trip, visiting auto shops such as Valvoline (+23%) or NAPA Auto Parts (+14%).

Our data has revealed a significant shift in consumer behavior around travel and tourism as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a greater focus on local travel and road trips. For example, foot traffic to gas stations, auto shops and dealerships has remained slightly above pre-pandemic levels since early June, while traffic to airports has remained consistently low since the pandemic began in early March. With that in mind, we may anticipate more local travel this holiday season as the pandemic continues. Marketers should tap into this trend, reaching consumers on the road this holiday season and tailoring their messaging for luxury shoppers vs. cost-conscious shoppers.

The Takeaway?

Online interest data unlocks new phases of the purchase funnel, enabling data-driven marketers to extend targeting beyond just those who have visited a given type of place or chain, reaching consumers who have been observed engaging with relevant content online, such as reviews, ratings and more.

Whether you’re a grocery store looking to reach holiday party hosts, or an apparel brand trying to reach Millennial shoppers, Foursquare Audience and Proximity offer customizable and easy-to-activate solutions for reaching the right audience at the right moment this holiday season.

Reach out to our team of location experts at to learn more about how you can level-up your campaigns with custom location and online interest targeting recommendations this holiday season.

Editor’s Note: Foursquare analyzes foot traffic patterns from more than 13 million Americans that make up our always-on panel. All data is either anonymized, pseudonymized or aggregated, and is normalized against U.S. Census data to remove age, gender and geographical bias. For this analysis, Foursquare looked at data from April 2020 – June 2020. Percentages above indicate more or less likely to visit than the average U.S. consumer.

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