What do travel, footwear, and pets have in common? If you guessed these are some of the faster growing categories on Rakuten as of recent – that’s right. While economic pressures are driving a focus on value and savings, we’re continuing to see shoppers spend money. In the US, first quarter ecommerce sales hit $253.1 billion. That’s an 8% rise from the year-earlier quarter. As people gear up for wedding season, summer vacations, and back-to-school, let’s look at five of the hottest categories Rakuten members are shopping right now.
Like last year’s summer travel season, it appears summer 2023 will be another one of full flights and booked-solid hotels. Sixty-three percent of US adults plan to travel this summer, up from 61% in 2022, according to a recent survey by Bankrate. While inflation is easing, higher prices are still leading vacationers to look for ways to cut down on their travel expenses. More people are turning to loyalty and rewards programs to save money, speaking to strong performance of Rakuten’s Travel category.
Travelers are also planning to drive to their destinations. Twenty-six percent say they plan to drive rather than fly this summer, up from 16% last year. On Rakuten, we’re seeing healthy engagement in the Auto category, suggesting members may be getting ready for long road trips.
This summer, Rakuten members are refreshing their wardrobe from the ground up. From sneakers to slip-ons, the strength of the footwear category confirms that a new pair of shoes never goes out of style. On Rakuten, Footwear is experiencing consistent growth year-over-year, spurred by an increase in category buyers.
According to the Footwear Market Report by Allied Market Research, a growing interest in health and fitness among people, as well as an increase in young kids participating in sports activities is fueling footwear growth. Furthermore, the return to in-person events and work has had a positive impact on performance in the last year.
3. Health & Beauty
Health & Beauty is seeing a surge as consumers prioritize self-care products. They’re unwilling make sacrifices to their beauty routine, viewing spend on skin care, hair care, fragrance, and make up as essential. On Rakuten, our members are spending more on self-care and beauty. In addition to growing cart values, we’ve seen a spike in buyers. TikTok has undeniably played a strong role in this growth. Eighty-nine percent of TikTok users purchase beauty products after seeing them on the app, often driving new and old products to sell out overnight.
Seventy-eight percent of pet owners acquired pets during the pandemic, earning its name the Pandemic Pet Boom. Now, increased pet ownership is driving growth in pet spending. Insider Intelligence forecasts US retail sales of pet products will reach over $80 billion this year, a 3% increase over 2022. Members are turning to Rakuten to simultaneously save and spoil their furry (or scaly) friends. We’ve seen consistent growth across our core metrics year-over-year since 2019.
5. Events & Entertainment Tickets
Live experiences made a roaring comeback in 2022. This year, music lovers, museum goers, sports fans, and the likes are flocking to live events once again. Almost half (46%) of people expect to attend more live events or experiences in summer 2023, compared to 2022. Tickets for live events on Rakuten have mirrored consumer demand with increased buyers who are spending more on entertainment, signaling a clear desire for people to experience shows together in-person.
How can brands win shoppers this summer?
Now that we know what’s on everyone’s summer shopping list, how can brands reach shoppers? Here are three tips for driving engagement and sales this summer.
Invest in customer-centric moments throughout the summer:
Savvy shoppers will continue to prioritize deals and rewards, seeking out summer sales events to save on their seasonal purchases and everyday essentials. Fortunately, there are several opportunities to capture shopper attention and wallets throughout summer, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. It’s in these shopping moments that consumers are most intent on spending. Brands and retailers must strategically invest in summer retail events to reach engaged shoppers and keep them loyal and spending.
Double-down on omnichannel:
People are on the go during the summer, meaning when it comes to making purchases, convenience is king. They expect the ability to purchase wherever is convenient in that moment – be it in-store, on their smartphone, or other. Retailers need to ensure they’re meeting customers on their omnichannel journey, providing the right message and incentives to optimize conversion.
Foster customer loyalty:
Fostering strong relationships with customers is always important, but even more so in the summer as we approach the holiday season. Rewards programs have proven to be an effective strategy to nurture long-term value and boost loyalty. To win and nurture their audience in today’s competitive market, brands must ensure the offers they’re serving are personalized and relevant, based on shoppers’ interests and preferences.
Get in touch to learn how Rakuten can help you reach and convert shoppers with highly personalized shopping experiences.