New Fall Essentials: What Are Consumers Planning to Buy This Fall?

Some have already started decorating their mantles with miniature gourds and pumpkins. Others are still making the most of the final days they can wear sandals and leave their house without a jacket.

But whether you’re holding on to summer weather or looking for the first signs of foliage, fall is here. 

Meanwhile, some states and countries are making progress with reopening their economies and “flattening the curve.” Still, other areas remain high-risk.

Regardless, the world is still undergoing a global pandemic. And no matter where you live, mask-wearing and social distancing are still the norm. 

This is nothing new. Most consumers are well-adjusted to the “new normal” by now and many are even starting to make plans for fall, which also means thinking about how they’ll have to adjust their typical autumnal endeavors. 

But this also means that there may be a shift in purchasing behavior compared to years past.

After surveying over 900 people about their plans for fall and looking at the data of over 12,000 Klaviyo customers, here’s what you can expect when it comes to consumer shopping behavior surrounding new fall essentials—the in-demand items consumers won’t be able to get enough of this upcoming season.

Socializing this fall

While the outdoors provides open air and a safer space to socialize, most consumers will be layering up so that they can take on the colder weather with over 34 percent of consumers planning to sit outside at someone’s home, over 31 percent planning to participate in outdoor fall-themed activities, and over 31 percent planning to eat at outdoor restaurants.

Significantly fewer respondents plan to socialize indoors than outdoors as consumers continue to be cautious about enclosed spaces. Activities like eating at indoor restaurants, socializing indoors at someone’s home, and indoor fall activities are less popular. 

Additionally, many are still wary of meeting up with anyone not in their immediate household. Nearly 14 percent of consumers surveyed said that they don’t plan to socialize at all this fall.

To make outdoor experiences more comfortable and festive, a number of consumers are planning to purchase items like fall decorations and outdoor furniture. 

Fire pits, for example, are seeing year-over-year growth of 183 percent when looking at the data of over 18,000 Klaviyo customers. While fire pit sales started spiking in the spring, consumers continued to buy them throughout the summer. 

As fall approaches, sales are still up in this category, presumably because anyone hosting friends and family outdoors this season will need a source of warmth if they experience colder nighttime temperatures.

Still, around 30 percent of consumers aren’t planning to make any additional purchases for outdoor entertaining.

Outdoor activities

Before freezing temperatures arrive in some areas, many people will continue to try to get outside as much as possible.

Some specific outdoor activities that survey respondents are planning to do this fall include going to parks (38 percent), hiking (36 percent), and taking road trips (36 percent). 

While international or even domestic travel by plane may not be in the cards for many, day trips like these provide a way for consumers to alleviate their wanderlust. Additionally, many of these activities will provide an outlet for socializing for those who don’t feel comfortable gathering indoors. 

In line with consumers’ plans to purchase hiking and camping equipment, there’s been an increase in orders for things like sleeping bags and first aid kits over this same time last year from the same cohort of Klaviyo customers. 

Additionally, over 32 percent of consumers are planning to invest in warmer clothing so that they can enjoy stepping outdoors throughout the day even if they no longer have to deal with commuting.

As consumers get better acquainted with the great outdoors than they may have in previous years, consumer shopping trends are likely to meet this behavior with peak fall purchases in categories such as apparel, travel, sporting goods, hiking equipment, and camping gear.

Many brands have reported a similar uptick in items related to outdoor activities, confirming that consumers are more outdoor-oriented that ever. For example, L.L. Bean claimed they’re already seeing a high number of customers buying flannel, fleece, and boots while Dick’s Sporting Goods has seen online sales surge 194 percent in August as more people bought hiking gear, kayaks, weights, and workout clothes.

“We have already seen a pop in sales on snow shoes, sleds, some of our outdoor hard goods for the winter season. I think people are connected to the outdoors in ways they have never been,” said L.L. Bean CEO Stephen Smith in a CNBC interview.

Indoor activities

While consumers plan to do some outdoor activities this fall, indoor activities are much more favored. But it’s also evident these indoor activities won’t be a time for socializing as much as they’ll be used for staying inside with peoples’ immediate households.

Popular indoor activities include watching movies and TV, cooking, and playing family games, with over 55 percent of survey respondents planning to participate in each of these activities. 

Now that football is back in full swing, many are looking forward to Sunday nights at home, but it won’t be a social activity as much as it’ll be an activity people plan to enjoy at home with over 37 percent of consumers claiming that they’ll watch sports indoors with their immediate household this fall.

Additionally, consumers’ couches will likely emerge as a hotspot for Halloween movie nights and Netflix binging, especially for the states and countries that will see colder weather setting in. 

Additionally, as consumers envision more nights inside in the comfort of their own homes, quite a few also plan to make purchases to optimize these spaces.

As a way to make homes more comfortable, almost 30 percent of consumers are planning to purchase home accessories, over 25 percent will purchase fall decorations, and over 24 percent will purchase new living room furniture.

While do-it-yourself (DIY) home projects were popular at the start of quarantine, survey respondents are now making it evident that they plan on investing in more turnkey pieces to elevate different rooms. And we can’t blame them—those Pinterest projects are always harder than they look.

What brands can expect this fall

Consumers are still seeking out safe ways to escape from the confines of their homes.

While activities like apple picking were most popular among families and pumpkin-spice aficionados in years past, this year those options may look even more appealing as typical indoor activities are no longer an option.

Additionally, while brands in the travel industry were in deep water at the beginning of the pandemic as consumers canceled their vacations, many people are becoming more comfortable with road trips and local travel. 

This means that if your brand sells products geared towards outdoor and travel enthusiasts, it may (finally) be your time to shine—as made evident by Away’s 50 percent off sale, which received such heavy traffic that the website crashed.

Of course, this very well may be because consumers knew that they might not ever see these prices again with the direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand, which formerly had never discounted their products or held a sale. But it’s also evident that many people are venturing out to social distance somewhere more serene by visiting nearby beaches, mountains, lakes, parks, and campgrounds.

Brands that sell travel-related products, outdoor gear, or cold weather apparel may want to consider offering sales before the chaos of Cyber Weekend sets in to move stagnant summer inventory and start getting in front of new customers who are shopping in preparation for their next big adventure. Additionally, start spending now on paid advertising opportunities to get your brand in front of new potential customers while your products are hot and before customer acquisition costs (CAC) increase around Cyber Weekend. This could also turn out to be fruitful closer to the holidays when the customers you gain during the fall are purchasing gifts for family and friends.

On the other hand, it’s possible you might not want to follow Away’s path by discounting your products at their peak. Alternatively, it’s worth leveraging user-generated content (UGC), reviews, and referrals to encourage current customers to share their love for your brand and show your products “in the wild.”

Naturally, though, more consumers in colder climates will opt to spend most of their time indoors as we get closer to winter—especially if there happens to be a second wave of coronavirus cases. 

Brands that sell home comforts—think products like candles, pillows, blankets, and decor—will be well-positioned for the upcoming fall season. Furniture and electronics are also likely to see an uptick in sales as 24 percent of survey respondents said they plan to buy new living room furniture and 25 percent said they plan to buy new electronics and/or a new television.

Brands that sell items from any of these categories might want to consider expanding their product lines to appeal to current customers. Consider what product variations you can offer (such as different sizes or colors) or accessories you can offer to complement your hero product.

You may also want to think about partnering up with similar brands (that aren’t competing for your audience) to collaborate on new collections or giveaways. For example, last year Splash Wines partnered with Get Maine Lobster around Cyber Weekend in order to share the reach of both of the brands’ email lists.

So what’s the plan for brands that may not be considered new fall essentials? 

If you haven’t started already, now’s the time to think about how you’re going to market to an uptick in online consumers shopping for gifts—especially considering that Cyber Weekend 2020 is projected to drive $51.1 billion dollars in ecommerce sales for the first time.

Keep your sights set on planning for the Cyber Weekend and the holiday season. Focus on your current customers, your VIPs, and your most engaged subscribers. Continue building those relationships so you’ll be top-of-mind as one of their favorite brands when they start their holiday shopping.

Not to mention, 30 percent of consumers under 45 and 33 percent of consumers over 45 say they’ll start their holiday shopping in the fall this year, which means it’s never too early to start thinking about your holiday marketing strategy.

Final thoughts

This fall, consumers will be looking for ways to take advantage of different outdoor activities, but once temperatures drop—or at least on the days there’s a football game on TV—most will be retreating to their own homes since there will likely still be a lack of indoor venues open for socializing in most states and countries.   

Brands that fall into the new fall essentials category are well-positioned to get ahead of Cyber Weekend sales by getting in front of consumers while their products are in high demand.

But for brands that aren’t selling essentials or new essentials, that doesn’t mean your Q4 will be a loss. The biggest ecommerce holiday is right around the corner—and it’s going to be unlike one we’ve ever seen before.

 

Want to set your brand up for a successful holiday season?

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