Cross-Channel Integrated Planning

Ovative Trends and Performance Update: September 2021 

With back-to-school shopping behind us and holiday right around the corner, marketers must assess current shopping trends to get ready for what is ahead. Read on for Ovative’s take on how to prepare for the upcoming season among wavering consumer confidence and changing consumer behavior. 

September Macro Trends  

  • Consumer confidence decreased for the third consecutive month, hitting a seven-month low.¹ Consumers still have an overall cautious outlook of the economy, due to uncertainty caused by the evolving delta variant.   
  • Retail sales in the US jumped unexpectedly across most categories, shifting toward goods as demands for services like travel and leisure are curbed by the delta variant. Spending at bars and restaurants slowed, influencing a 2.1% increase in grocery store receipts. Overall retail purchases rose 0.7% in August, driven in part by back-to-school (BTS) and child tax credits, and spending on clothing increased 27% YoY. ² 
  • Consumers were ready for a refresh and embraced BTS shopping. Top five search terms during this time included mainly apparel and BTS items, and general apparel saw a 12% increase in search and traffic numbers, signaling increased demand.³ 

What Trends Did We Observe Across Ovative Clients Last Month? 

  • Retail sales were up across the US, but our clients experienced some softness throughout Labor Day and back-to-school, potentially related to consumer confidence being in flux and unforeseen impacts of COVID-19 still remaining top of mind for consumers. 
  • Pent-up demand seen in the market over this core shopping period leading up to holiday indicates the market is still volatile and clients should be working on contingency plans for holiday at this unforeseen time. 

What Trends Did We Observe on Google and Facebook Last Month? 

  • Clients have continued to increase investment hoping to build awareness headed into holiday and secure sales earlier.  
  • Competition remains hot in the marketplace as we approach holiday, leaving costs elevated YoY.  
  • Wavering consumer confidence could be impacting overall conversion rates as some consumers may be reserving cash or waiting to see employment status to begin holiday shopping.  

Ovative Cross Client Insights Data, September 2021 

How Can You Turn These Insights Into Action?  

Preparing for atypical holiday performance and setting expectations early on will be helpful as marketers navigate holiday. Because consumers may still be unsure about the economy headed into holiday shopping, unforeseen shopping behavior to typical seasons, like decreased spending, could occur. 

Thoughtful strategies to make the most of limited inventory for retailers and declining demand within the service industry will be core to success this season. Shifted demand towards goods over services suggests consumer spending is still volatile across industries, and this shift continues to heighten supply chain shortages felt by retailers and further impact inflation. 

Creating easy, safe, seamless experiences both online and in-store for shoppers will be paramount to securing holiday sales​. Americans were ready for the return to school with pent-up demand from last year, but it is still to be seen if similar demand will carry over into holiday trendsKids returning to school, delta variant evolvements, and potential continued pent-up demand all are factors into how holiday will shake out.  

Marketers should consider building in flexibility to holiday plans to be agile to evolving market conditions due to inventory issues and inflation impacts, while implementing strategic media plans to help with delays and shipping cutoffs. 

Ovative is a digital-first media and measurement firm seeking to transform the measure of marketing success. At Ovative, we help brands move the needle. We are curious. We value your brand. We want to see you succeed. Connect with us to learn more! 


1 | MarketWatch, Consumer confidence sinks to 6-month low on delta anxiety and high inflation, August 2021 

2 | New York Times, Retail sales rose in August, highlighting an inconsistency of consumer spending, September 2021   

3 | Bloomreach, Traffic and Sales Soar into the New School Year, September 2021  

4 | Ovative Group, Cross Client Insights Data, September 2021  

Lillian Smith

Senior Analyst, Paid Social

About the Author

Lillian is a Senior Analyst on the Paid Social team at Ovative.

Dale Nitschke

Dale Nitschke

CEO & Founder

About the Author

Dale is the Founder and CEO of Ovative. After years of operating a large omni-channel business and leading a customer data initiative, Dale knew there was an opportunity to create a marketing firm that helped clients become more customer centric and drove better performance outcomes. A gap existed between business consultancies and advertising agencies that modern marketing approaches demand. He also believed that a strong, healthy culture could attract and develop smart, talented team members. In 2009, he formed Ovative to bring media, measurement, and consulting together under one roof to enable an enterprise approach that drives more revenue and grows clients’ customer base.

Prior to founding Ovative in 2009, Dale spent 23 years at Target Corporation where he served as President of and grew the ecommerce business from start-up stage to a $1 billion+ business and established the foundation of Target’s Guest database capabilities. Previously he served as SVP Merchandising at the Department Store Division of Dayton Hudson. Dale has advised retailers and brands globally on business, growth, marketing, and measurement transformation strategies.

Outside of Ovative, Dale is a leader on topics including business strategy, change management, and team leadership. He serves on the board of Allergy Amulet and on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Wisconsin School of Business at UW-Madison.  He enjoys spending time with his family, up north in northern Wisconsin, playing golf, and cheering on Wisconsin sport teams.

Seth Brand

Senior Manager, Consulting

About the Author

Seth is a Senior Manager on the Consulting team at Ovative.

Amanda McCann

Senior Manager, Consulting

About the Author

Amanda is a Senior Manager on the Consulting team at Ovative, specializing in Retail Media Networks.

Jenny Reinke

Senior Analyst, Measurement Solutions

About the Author

Jenny is a Senior Analyst on the Measurement Solutions team at Ovative.

Annie Zipfel

Executive Vice President, Media

About the Author

Annie is the Executive Vice President of Media at Ovative. She oversees delivery and growth across paid and owned media (digital, traditional, and retail media) and creative services.

Annie has more than 30 years of experience in media, brand management, insights/analytics, marketing, and product. She has also developed large, high-performing teams and built new measurement capabilities. Annie led the marketing team at Andersen Windows & Doors, leading the digital, social, content, customer insights, and creative functions. Prior to that, Annie served in multiple marketing leadership roles at Starbucks, REI, Target, and General Mills, with a keen focus on brand, media, insights, analytics, and measurement.

Annie is an industry leader in brand management, customer insights, e-commerce, social media, and analytics. She enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking, fishing, and spending time with her sweet dog and two sons.

Bonnie Gross

Executive Vice President, Talent Services

About the Author

Bonnie is the Executive Vice President of Talent Services at Ovative. She is responsible for attracting and retaining top talent and creating a culture in which our team thrives personally and professionally. Under Bonnie’s leadership, Ovative has defined an industry leading leadership and development program and transformed our approach to talent recruitment with a focus on diversity, equality and inclusion. Prior to her current role, Bonnie led Ovative’s Client and Business Development team overseeing client satisfaction and new growth opportunities.

Before joining Ovative in 2014, Bonnie spent 13 years at Target Corporate as the VP of digital and Digital Marketing where she led the launch of Cartwheel, an industry-leading social shopping application. Bonnie was the VP of Marketing for Fingerhut for 15 years prior to joining Target.

Leander Cohen

Analyst, Consulting

About the Author

Leander Cohen is an Analyst on the Consulting team at Ovative.

Will Silva

Analyst, Measurement Solutions

About the Author

Will is an Analyst on the Measurement Solutions team at Ovative.

Sarah Chang

Sarah Chang

Analyst, Consulting

About the Author

Sarah Chang is an Analyst on the Consulting team at Ovative.

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