What Are Americans Buying on Labor Day?

Pattern Data Science

August 26, 2021

Labor Day is usually seen as the last big “hurrah” of the summer. A time for Americans to go on one more camping trip or have friends and family over for a big backyard BBQ before the kids return to school and cooler weather sets in.

It’s also a weekend when Americans look to do some shopping. In 2018, Americans spent $2 billion online on Labor Day, stocking up on everything from furniture to clothing to appliances and more.

Last year, however, brought a different approach to Labor Day shopping. According to our previous research, for example, back to school items saw demand drop during Fall 2020 compared to 2019.

So we dove deep into our data to learn more about how COVID-19 impacted online demand for some of the categories most associated with Labor Day sales in 2020, how things are trending in 2021 so far, and what that might mean for the future.

Did major categories experience increased demand during Labor Day last year?

First things first, let’s take a look at online demand from 2020 through this summer in a handful of the categories most associated with Labor Day purchases to see if the holiday moves the needle.

We started by examining the online demand for those categories during the week of Labor Day and comparing it to the average weekly demand throughout the rest of 2020. Here’s what we found:

It seems that plenty of people turned to online shopping to get their hands on some non-white shoes last year. From our pool of categories, shoes got the biggest Labor Day bump with a 21% increase in demand compared to the typical week during the rest of the year.

Labor Day week was the 12th biggest week of the year for shoes, making it a solid holiday for shoe sales, but definitely not peak shoe season.

The same was true for most of the other categories we examined as well. Labor Day brought solid if not astonishing increases in online demand, usually around a 10% increase over the average week.

Only outdoor games and activities saw a dip in demand, as Labor Day weekend is most likely a holiday when people bust out the cornhole and bocce ball sets they bought during the spring for one final game of the summer.

For a clearer picture, here’s how 2021 looked for each of the above categories.

Most of these categories experience their largest increases in demand during the summertime. By the time Labor Day rolls around, demand is still above the annual average, but well below previous high points.

Furniture and patio furniture both experienced their high points during the late spring and early summer. Camping and hiking equipment saw demand at its highest from June through the end of August, while shoes experienced even more dramatic highs during that same timeframe.

Outdoor games and activities, meanwhile, saw demand spike in the weeks immediately following lockdown, as Americans were eager for new forms of at-home entertainment. Interestingly, this is the only of these categories where the holiday shopping season brought a substantial boost in demand.

Either way you look at it, though, Labor Day wasn’t a major driver of online demand. It could be that Americans were more eager to do some in-person Labor Day shopping last year after spending a significant portion of the year in lockdown, or it could be that Labor Day simply isn’t the online shopping holiday that others are.

Still, looking at these trends got us curious about how these categories are looking so far in 2021. Has the COVID-19 pandemic had long-lasting repercussions on demand for shoes or camping gear? And how might those trends impact demand during Labor Day weekend this year?

Online demand is up in 2021 for all categories in our analysis

Last year, the pandemic had a clear impact on demand for each of the categories in our analysis. Furniture, patio furniture, and outdoor games all saw demand spike at the start of lockdown as people found themselves stuck at home for the foreseeable future.

Both shoes and camping/hiking equipment saw demand drop in the initial weeks of lockdown, only to rebound in a big way later in the summer.

So how has 2021 compared so far? Is demand up even more as things have reopened? Has the delta variant surge over recent months had any impact?

Let’s start with a broad look by comparing all of 2021 so far to the same timeframe in 2020.

It looks like the more things reopened this year, the more Americans decided they needed a new pair of shoes to venture out in. Online demand for shoes is up a whopping 157% in 2021 so far compared to the same timeframe in 2020.

Each of the categories in our analysis has seen demand up in 2021, though. Online demand for outdoor games and activities has been up 10% in 2021, while each of the other categories has experienced a nearly 30% increase.

For an even clearer picture, let’s next compare monthly demand for the past three years for each of the above categories.

The first half of 2021 has seen a huge surge in online demand for shoes

Comparing monthly demand in 2021 to what we saw in 2020 and in 2019 will help paint a much clearer picture of how the long term effects of the pandemic have impacted consumer behavior. So let’s start with demand for shoes, which we in the previous section has been up big this year.

2021 saw online demand skyrocket in March, which during a pre-pandemic year was far from the height of shoe shopping season. Our best guess is that this may have been due to the initial rollouts of the vaccine, as more and more Americans began to venture back out after a year practicing social distancing.

After a brief dip in April, demand shot back up in May and has remained consistently high throughout the summer. We will definitely be keeping a closer eye on this category as the back to school shopping season closes and Labor Day weekend approaches.

Online demand for furniture and outdoor furniture was up in early 2021, returning to near 2020 levels

Now let’s take a look at online demand for both indoor and outdoor furniture.

During a pre-pandemic year, online demand for furniture was remarkably consistent. It rose slightly over the spring and summer, and was slower during the winter months.

In 2020 we saw a huge surge in online demand for furniture after millions of Americans spent a month or two isolating at home, many clearly decided to invest in some new furniture to spruce up their surroundings.

Interestingly, 2021 also saw a surge in online demand for furniture early in the year, this time in March. The driving force behind this one is less clear than in 2020. Perhaps people were preparing to host in-person gatherings at home.

Either way, demand in 2021 has remained above 2020 levels every month of the year so far, although at diminishing levels each month. Patio furniture and accessories have seen a very similar trend to their indoors counterparts.

As you’d expect, a normal year saw online demand for patio furniture peak even more during the summer months. This trend was particularly exaggerated in 2020, again, likely due to more Americans than ever spending almost all of their free time at home.

2021 has also seen online demand stay consistently higher than in 2020, particularly earlier in the spring. This may simply be due to people getting more used to making larger purchases online after last year, or it could be that even more people were interested in upgrading their backyard lounging situation to prepare for some huge post-lockdown parties.

Online demand for camping and hiking equipment continues to soar to new heights in 2021

Camping and hiking equipment may not have had the same kind of total increase in 2021 that shoes experienced, but there’s no question that Americans are venturing out in big numbers this year.

2020 saw demand dip somewhat during the first months of lockdown, but rebound to slightly above 2019 figures during the summertime. 2021, meanwhile, has been nothing but a consistent month-over-month increase in online demand for camping and hiking gear.

Our analysis of camping gear back in May showed early signs that 2021 was going to be a big year for the category, and that certainly hasn’t changed. In fact, August was the biggest month of the year for camping and outdoor gear back in 2019, so there’s no reason to believe that this month might be the biggest month for the category yet.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on each of these categories and more as the summer comes to a close and Labor Day weekend comes and goes.

A lesson for brands

Our data shows that Labor Day weekend may have only a moderate impact on online demand for key categories, but that COVID-19 has had a major impact.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

For example, we may see Labor Day weekend continue to be a more modest weekend when it comes to online sales, as Americans have spent this past summer online shopping for new shoes and camping gear.

It could be, however, that last year was an anomaly, and that Labor Day weekend may drive a surge in online sales for some of these key categories.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

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MAP Pricing vs MSRP: What's the Difference? (blog header)
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MAP Pricing vs. MSRP: What's the Difference?

“MAP” and “MSRP” are two of hundreds of acronyms floating around in the world of ecommerce, and they’re two of the easiest to confuse and misunderstand. While MAP and MSRP do play similar roles, they also have key differences that can work in tandem to support and protect your brand on marketplaces.

So what are MAP and MSRP and why do they matter? Here’s what you should know: 

What is MAP?

MAP (or minimum advertised price) is the minimum amount that a manufacturer or wholesaler recommends resellers advertise their products for. MAP pricing policy is essentially a one-way boundary you set to protect your brand, protect the margins of your resellers, and maintain fair competition across all of your distribution channels.

When setting a MAP policy strategy, remember the important things you’ll want your MAP policy to do are:

  1. Protect the interests of your brick-and-mortar resellers, giving them the margins they need to display and carry your product as well as sell it.

  2. Stay small enough that it discourages resellers from heavily discounting your products and keeps competition fair.

  3. Accurately reflects on the brand image and value you want to reflect.

“Advertising” and “recommends” are the key terms here. MAP policies should only recommend the price that is advertised online or in-store for a product, not attempt to fix the actual selling price of the product—that’s illegal—or recommend the actual selling price. That’s MSRP’s job.

Benefits of MAP

MAP not only keeps competition fair, but allows you to control your brand identity and promote consumer trust of your product and brand. Here are some of the benefits of having MAP policies:

  • Better brand protection and control

  • Creates a level playing field for retailers

  • Reduces bad customer experiences

  • Provides an accurate performance analysis

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MAP?

It’s critical that MAP policies are structured in such a way that a brand avoids violating anti-trust laws. One way brands can effectively enforce MAP is by simply monitoring online product prices across digital channels to identify fluctuations in the market. 

At Pattern, we help brands not only develop a MAP policy, but also enforce it. Enforcing MAP policies and gaining marketplace control includes finding unauthorized sellers, which Pattern’s data finds. Once Pattern finds the unauthorized sellers, Vorys eControls (Pattern’s legal partner) steps in and handles the takedowns of unauthorized sellers, continuous enforcement of brand management, and reseller policy enforcements.

What is MSRP?

MSRP (or manufacturer’s suggested retail price) is how manufacturers standardize pricing across their resale channel and determine what price is fair for their product. The key difference between MSRP and MAP is that MSRP is the actual price manufacturers set and recommend retailers charge for their goods while MAP is the advertised price. 

MSRP doesn’t necessarily have to be the final price of a product—it’s most often a starting price—but it is determined by taking into account all of the costs associated with the distribution and manufacturing process for a product and the margin amount resellers need in order to make a profit. MSRP also establishes value. For example, if a brand wants to build a premium brand, the MSRP can reflect the actual or perceived value of their product.

Benefits of MSRP

Setting up an MSRP for your product includes the following benefits:

  • Maintains brand equity

  • Establishes brand and product value

  • Standardizes costs across marketplaces

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MSRP?

Like MAP pricing, MSRP has to be set up as a one-way policy and not an agreement between a manufacturer and a reseller to avoid landing a manufacturer on the wrong side of the law. It’s a recommendation, not a contractual bind. As mentioned for MAP policy, Pattern helps brands effectively enforce MSRP with our proprietary data and expertise to protect their brand. 

How Do MAP and MSRP Work Together?

MAP and MSRP have different applications that may prove useful in different scenarios. For example, MAP policies are typically more useful in marketplaces where competition is fierce and price erosion happens easily if sellers are left unchecked. Ideally, however, MAP and MSRP are a dynamic duo that work together to serve the interests of your brand, support your resale channels, and protect your resellers.

Setting an MSRP establishes value for your product and lets your resellers know you’re serious about controlling channel conflict, maintaining pricing equity, and protecting their margins so they’re more confident setting pricing at the MSRP level.

MAP is the second half of setting a pricing policy. Setting a MAP price for your product, in addition to an MSRP, further standardizes pricing across your resale channel and gives legitimate resellers a fair environment to compete in while setting boundaries against unauthorized sellers harming your brand.

MAP combined with MSRP creates a stronger level of brand protection, giving your brand more sustainable, profitable growth.

Maintain Brand Control With Pattern

MAP policies can be tricky to draft, because there are so many legal lines to tiptoe around and so much nuance that goes into pricing. They can also be tricky to enforce without the right tools. At Pattern, partnered with Vorys, we have the tools and resources to help you maintain brand control on all marketplaces. 

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern can help you identify MAP violators and regain control of your brand online so that your image and your resellers are protected. To learn more, contact us today.

Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days
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Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days

Athlon Optics sells scopes and other optical accessories like binoculars for anyone who may be hunting, shooting recreationally, or competing.  After achieving significant success on Amazon, the brand wanted to launch on Walmart. As a growing marketplace with huge growth forecasts, Athlon saw their competitors already staking claim on walmart.com and saw opportunities for increasing their sales.

As a prestigious brand in its category, with loyal consumers, Athlon does so much with very few resources. With less than twenty employees in the entire company, managing everything from customer service to product development, their ecommerce team needed support to scale to a new marketplace.  And, they needed a partner who had a relationship with and deep understanding of walmart.com to accelerate their growth. Pattern is a one-stop shop for Athlon, providing the resources and expertise, so Athlon could also save budget and stop outsourcing so many different aspects of their marketplace business.

Athlon Optics Prepares for a Seamless Launch

Sometimes brands who transition from 1P to 3P with Pattern have no proprietary sales, marketplace data or content such as product images, video, or optimized copy. These circumstances create a more hands on transition for Pattern and may interfere with launch expectations. 

But Athlon was the consummate partner and overly prepared to transition to 3P– buttoned up, organized, and ready to take on walmart.com’s list of launch needs. Athlon provided all the required assets on time and was very organized.  The images were shot, formatted, and categorized as A+ content that Pattern ported over.  This process dramatically reduced wait times and lag times within the platform.  Plus, since the content was optimized for marketplaces, all images, copy, and listing information uploaded in the first pass. 

Pattern’s Walmart Expertise Leads to Success

But the content worked because of Pattern’s resources and marketplace expertise.  Pattern provided Athlon with a very clear outline of needs and expectations for seamless launch and this process has become a playbook for other brands on walmart.com.  The team’s mutual partnership and Pattern’s diligent follow up with and detailed attention to Walmart processes and logistics prevented Athlon from getting lost in the weeds. 

Three Days is All it Takes

The successful, thorough, and quick transition to 3P with Pattern secured Athlon most likely the fastest ramp-up periods for any brand on Walmart.com.  

Together we achieved success such as:

  • 'Best in class' turnaround–98% faster onboarding than average brand on Walmart.

  • First sale within the first week of landing at Walmart. 

    • Unprecedented turnaround considering the ramp up usually needed to gain momentum and traction with reviews on Walmart. 

  • Exceeded initial first month growth projection by 34%.

Athlon was so impressed by the ease and simplicity of its launch and execution on Walmart that the brand wants to grow our 3P relationship with other marketplaces such as Amazon Canada and Target+.

And, in the meantime, look out for Athlon Optics in Walmart Deal Days in 2022.  A huge win for any brand tied to organic advertising and new traffic opportunities across all media.

Pattern Helps Brands Expand Marketplaces 

Pattern has the 3P partner experience and deep expertise on Walmart and other global marketplaces to help a brand expand their footprint to maintain sales momentum and a competitive edge. Pattern, an ecommerce accelerator, takes on the responsibility of your stock and provides the expert resources needed to successfully launch and continue to grow your revenue on global marketplaces. 

Learn more about Pattern’s expertise and partnership on Walmart.  Contact us today.

Amazon A+ Content
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Amazon A+ and Premium A+ Content: Pros and Cons Brands Need to Know

Long gone are the days when Amazon listings were limited to a simple product description, five bullet points, and eight pictures. As the platform, and number of sellers, has grown, sellers have had to be more and more strategic and eye-catching to increase traffic and conversions on their listings.

Brands on Amazon have plenty of attractive options available to design their Amazon storefront, which reside in two of Amazon’s content tools: A+ Content and Premium A+ Content (or  A++ Content).

Here’s the pros and cons of brands using A+ Content vs. Premium A+ Content:

What is Amazon A+ Content?

Amazon A+ Content is a standard feature available to all Amazon Sellers and free as one of the many benefits of Amazon Brand Registry. 

With A+ Content, a product listing can have more than a plain text description and standard photo reel–it can include high quality multimedia photos and videos alongside eye-catching information to share the product story, and not just the product appearance.

Some noteworthy features that Amazon A+ offers are:

  • Multiple, varied images of a product

  • Strategically concise introduction

  • Video

  • Bullet points

  • 360° product views

  • Matrix comparison charts

  • “What’s in the box” section

What is Amazon Premium A+ Content?

Amazon Premium A+ Content, or Amazon A++ Content, is a tool that goes a level beyond basic A+ Content, giving brands the ability to showcase their product’s most important features and benefits with a modern, visually appealing structure. 

In August 2022, Amazon announced Premium A+ would be available on Seller Central for free usage during a promotional period. Previously, Premium A+ content was available only by invite for brands using Vendor Central and could cost anywhere from $250K and $500K per product. 

With Premium A+ content, a brand visually communicates using imagery and video, and relies much less on text due to strict character limits for product descriptions. According to Amazon, implementing Premium A+ content can increase your sales by 20%.

For the first time ever, Premium A+ expands the usable real estate of the page, using the entire width of the screen for a sophisticated and modern feel.

Some noteworthy features that Premium A+ offers are:

  • Video

  • Full-width imagery

  • More space

  • Clickable Q&A

  • Interactive comparison charts

  • Carousel modules

  • Mobile-friendly and voice-friendly product pages

  • Testimonials

Pros and Cons of Amazon A+ vs. Premium A+ Content

Although their purposes are similar, there are some key differences between A+ Content and Premium A+ Content. Here are the pros and cons for each tool:

Basic Amazon A+ Content

Pros:

  • Free and unlimited use for all Vendors.

  • An effective tool to enhance customer experience and product listings.

Cons:

  • Less features than Premium A+.

  • It's not as visually appealing as Premium A+.

Premium A+ Content

Pros:

  • There are 16 extra modules to choose from that are media-rich and make an impact.

  • You have two more available module slots than Basic Amazon A+.

  • Overall, there are more possibilities for hyper-engaging content.

  • You can expect a sales rate increase of up to 20% with Premium A+, according to Amazon.

Cons:

  • Amazon has positioned Premium A+ content as more of an exclusive tool, requiring eligibility based on past content to qualify for Premium A+ content. 

  • Character limit restrictions are more strict than Basic Amazon A+.

Elevate Your Amazon Content with Pattern

Ultimately, both of these tools exist to help you and your brand provide customers the best online shopping experience possible. Although Premium A+ offers plenty of exciting new options for enhancing customers’ buying experience, it may not be for everyone. Optimizing your Amazon listing with A+ or Premium A+ Content can provide the best opportunity to build a strong reputation for better brand-recognition and customer affinity. 

Our creative and digital marketing experts at Pattern can help brands use A+ Content and Premium A+ Content to increase conversions and give buyers an amazing experience.

Learn how Pattern can help you increase conversions on Amazon. Contact us