2016 Holiday Selling Season: Who’s Winning So Far?

12.22.2016 Articles
Written by Randy Schrock, Business Intelligence SVP

The results are in and the pundits have spoken. Overall, traffic is down, discounts are steep, and revenue is flat.  While price still matters most and online sales continue to grow, in-store sales are still alive and well. Over the past few weeks, our trusted BDSers have been in stores surveying the holiday season landscape. Read on to learn more about our findings and see who’s winning the holiday season so far.

The Basics Still Count

While our teams were in store over the first holiday weekend, they evaluated conditions in four key categories: Video, Printing / Digital Imaging, Computers and Wearable Tech.  Within these categories, we assessed winners and losers in terms of:

  • Best Represented Visual Merchandising
  • Most Knowledgeable / Most Recommended by Retail Staff
  • Demonstration Operability / Display Functionality
  • Most Branded Staff
  • Steepest Discounts

Knowledge Is Power

Retail Sales Associate knowledge was generally good across the board, with all categories delivering over 50% of the RSAs rated as either “good” or “very good” (4 or 5 on a 1 – 5 scale).  Impressively, the percent of “good / very good” knowledge RSAs in wearables was 72%, although even that was surpassed by those in computers, receiving a whopping 88%!


While some brands may be satisfied with 54% of RSAs with “good or very good” knowledge, the reality is that they are leaving opportunities on the table.  BDS has conducted extensive analysis on the impact of in-store tactics at retail, with correlation models revealing that for every numeric scale increase in RSA knowledge (i.e. from a “3” to a “4), sales revenue increases up to 23%.  Now, multiply that across every RSA in every store of a major retailer, and the difference between 54% and 88% translates into a significant amount of sell-through!

The Importance of Functionality

Most of you are probably too young to remember the commercial where they put a piece of American Tourist luggage in a gorilla’s cage to show its durability, which you can see below. That is usually how retail displays fare on Black Friday weekend!

Out of the four categories observed, printers were in the best shape with 69% of display units functioning, followed by printers at 58% functioning, and computers at 54%.  At the other end of the scale was wearables with only 37% of all units observed to be found operable.

Our Research team found that a fully demonstrable device connected to the Internet increases sales lift by 80% over non-functional devices.  While it may not make sense to display every single unit in full functioning mode, serious consideration should be given to not only ensuring your brand gets proper representation, but also that it is maintained in full working condition for the duration of peak selling seasons.

To Brand or Not to Brand, That Is The Question!

Especially during peak selling seasons such as holiday, manufacturers can get significant visibility and sales lift using brand specific representation.  Our correlation analysis has shown that a branded representative drives a 235% increase in sales revenue over no representative available.

Brands that won overall at retail for the beginning of this holiday season are also leaders in Branded Representation, with GoPro at 38% of locations visited, Garmin at 74%, and HP at an impressive 91% of all locations visited (computer category).

So, Who’s In The Lead?

Considering the impact that every retail marketing tactic has, it is critical that a brand understands not only its own position at retail, but also that of its competition and of its customer.

While many brands were represented extremely well and some that were not, at the end of the day there were only a few standouts. Among them was one brand, GoPro, who stood out among the rest.



(Printer Category Results)

With 92% functionality in displays, almost half of all RSA recommendations, plenty of inventory and accessories, and an extremely competitive price, Go Pro is our call for the brand that got it right this holiday season.

To learn more about the holiday hits and misses at retail, contact us at [email protected] for a copy of the full report. Want to start the New Year off right with valuable insights? With our newly introduced Research and Commercial business units, we’re ready to provide a wide array of strategic and channel execution services to boost your brand at retail and beyond.