I’m a big party planner – my last Friendsgiving somehow fit 25 people into my small NYC apartment – so, I know firsthand just how equally fun and challenging the hosting experience can be. In the week leading up to the big day, I can often be found hauling tote bags filled with decor, snacks, and other essentials from multiple retailers, up the 5 flights of stairs to my apartment.  

Looking ahead to the 2023 holiday season, let’s talk about ways to help consumers, like myself, navigate their own excitement and anxiety as they plan gatherings and celebrations. In this blog, we explore how retailers and brand marketers can tap into the party-supply industry’s different shopper audiences and leverage timely messaging strategies to boost sales during the holiday season.

Understanding Party-Planning Shopper Audiences

The party-supply industry comprises three distinct shopper audiences: superstore shoppers (e.g., Walmart, Target), dollar store shoppers (e.g., Dollar Tree, Dollar General), and party store shoppers (e.g., specialty party stores). Each audience has its unique preferences and needs when it comes to purchasing supplies for their celebrations, and these shopping behaviors signal opportunities for competitive conquesting with the right messaging at moments of highest receptivity.


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Timing is Key

Consumers experience various emotions in the time leading up to holidays or special occasions. The planning phase occurs around one month before the event, followed by the crunch time phase one week prior, and finally the last-minute rush just a day before or on the day of the occasion. Retailers can capitalize on these different phases by providing targeted messaging and offers that cater to consumers’ specific needs at each stage.


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The Influence of Family Gatherings

One interesting finding is that 1 in 4 households with kids are more likely to host large family gatherings compared to the general population. This trend presents an opportunity for retailers to anticipate increased sales of pre- and post-party supplies such as decor, cleaning supplies, bulk concessions and paper/plastic goods in households with children. By aligning their marketing efforts with these gatherings, retailers can position themselves as reliable sources for essential party items.

Seizing Last-Minute Shoppers

Apart from Christmas, most consumers make their plans within two weeks of a given holiday, positioning this timeframe as the sweet spot for retailers to push holiday reminder messages. Consumers who haven’t left enough time for party preparation are more likely to rely on party supply stores to fulfill their last-minute needs. Brands can leverage this by implementing personalized reminder messaging strategies leading up to select holidays, capturing the attention of busy consumers during their daily routines.


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The Importance of Budgeting

9 out of 10 consumers plan to make purchases related to a holiday, but planned expenditures vary widely between occasions. When consumers are on a budget, they prioritize aspects they consider most important in making their celebrations perfect. Retailers can position décor and other supplies as essential elements of a themed gathering by highlighting opportunities to save through coupons, rebates, or special offers during moments of party preparation when consumers are most receptive.


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As the holiday season approaches, retailers and brand marketers have an opportunity to support party-planning consumers by strategically conquesting visitors from other retail locations. By understanding the different shopper audiences within the party-supply industry, retailers can tailor their messaging and offers to meet consumers’ needs throughout the planning process. Through targeted marketing efforts during key phases and by positioning themselves as reliable sources for last-minute supplies, retailers can increase sales and enhance customer satisfaction. Additionally, highlighting cost-saving opportunities while emphasizing the importance of themed gatherings will resonate with budget-conscious consumers. By implementing these strategies, retailers can successfully navigate the holiday season while helping customers create memorable celebrations.

Contact us if you would like more information on how to support party-planning consumers during the holiday season.

Rachel Gropper, Sr. Manager of Market Insights & Strategy