How to: Use location data to drive Q1 results

With perennial behavioral trends upended, Foursquare created a Q1 Strategy Guide to help brands use location data to reach consumers more effectively.

Rene Ranisch Unsplash

These days, big celebrations and life events aren’t what they used to be. As we enter into the second year of a COVID-19 era, consumers are continuing to shift how they move through the physical world. With so much uncertainty still ahead and perennial behavioral trends upended, how can leading brands most effectively reach consumers?

To help answer this question, Foursquare put together the Reaching Into The New Year: Q1 2021 Seasonal Strategy Guide (which you can download here). To create this guide, we analyzed foot traffic from millions of Americans, taking two core factors into consideration:

  1. Q1 2020 consumer behavior data around key events, such as Valentine’s Day and the Super Bowl
  2. Pandemic-related trends likely to persist into Q1 2021 that will affect how consumers celebrate and behave (e.g. people are consistently buying food, drinks and supplies to celebrate holidays & special occasions at home)

Here’s a look at how three important Q1 moments could look different this year – along with some tips for marketers on how to adapt:

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS: Though New Years Eve activities and events looked a bit different this year, New Year resolutions will still guide consumer behavior as people focus on fitness, health, and saving.

Last year, gyms and fitness centers experienced +4-8% more visits during the month of January compared to the previous and following months. This year, however, consumers will likely continue to exercise at home or outdoors. In fact, foot traffic to parks and trails has remained well above normal levels since the pandemic began, with visits to trails still up +52% as of January 1st this year (vs. down being -8% as of January 1 2020).

Tip for marketers: At-home fitness companies or healthy lifestyle brands can deploy ready-to-use audiences to reach people who frequented gyms or fitness centers before the pandemic began.

Consumers are also likely to make an effort to avoid unhealthy habits, such as drinking and indulging in sweets. While foot traffic to liquor stores has remained above normal levels since the pandemic began, we may expect to see a slight decline in visits at the start of the year, similar to the -11% decline such locations experienced in January 2020.

Tip for marketers: Leverage consumers’ online behavior to reach consumers who have expressed an interest in healthy eating and recipes, vegetarian food, or delivery/take-out.

SUPER BOWL: Despite a season of empty (or near-empty) stadium stands and limited-capacity sports bars, the Super Bowl is just around the corner. While NFL ratings fell during the regular season, we still expect to see fans tuning in to the Big Game from the comfort of their homes.

Last year, Foursquare saw a notable uptick to categories like grocery and liquor stores ahead of the Super Bowl as folks prepared to host and entertain their friends for the game. Chains like Smart & Final, BevMo!, Binny’s Beverage Depot and Albertsons all saw a +31-36% uptick in visits during Super Bowl weekend last year compared to the three weekends before.

While many people are likely to watch the game at home this year, marketers may be surprised to learn that pandemic may not have a dramatic effect on whether consumers watch the Super Bowl at home or at a bar. Consumers were actually less likely to visit sports bars and other public locations to watch the 2020 Super Bowl compared to regular season games. In 2020, whiskey bars, pubs, sports bars and beer bars all saw a -4-8% decline in foot traffic during Super Bowl weekend, while casual dining chains like Yard House and Olive Garden saw a -14-17% decline in visits. However, quick-service-restaurant (QSR) chains offering takeaway staples like pizza and wings saw upticks in visits during Super Bowl 2020 – including Wingstop (+14%), Pizza Hut (+11%) and Sonic Drive-In (+9%).

Tip for marketers: Send shoppers notifications about deals and specials in real-time as they shop for Super Bowl watch parties, or roll out campaigns encouraging consumers to visit grocery stores and other spots to grab Game Day supplies.

VALENTINE’S DAY: While consumers may be less likely to celebrate this romantic holiday with a fine dining experience or movie date, they may still be planning to celebrate at home.

When it comes to shopping for thoughtful gifts, sweets, jewelry and flowers are among the top trending retail categories around Valentine’s Day. Chocolate shops, candy stores and cupcake shops saw a +35-69% uptick in foot traffic last year, as did flower shops (+32%), wine shops (+17%) and jewelry stores (+22%). Based on 2020 holiday retail trends, we expect to see many consumers still shopping brick & mortar for Valentine’s Day gifts this year despite the ongoing pandemic.

Last year, popular restaurants last Valentine’s Day included steakhouses, French restaurants and Italian restaurants, which saw a 24-34% uptick in traffic on the holiday. While romantic restaurants may not see the same uptick in visits as they did last year, we predict that consumers may opt for take-out or meal delivery from their favorite restaurants this year instead.

Others may plan to cook up a romantic meal at home this year. Foursquare data reveals an uptick in visits to gourmet shops (+21%), cheese shops (+18%), butchers (+17%) and grocery stores (+17%) on Valentine’s Day last year compared to the Friday three weeks before and after.

Tip for marketers: Reach consumers in real-time with an ad or coupon while they’re at or near a jewelry store, department store, wine shop or florist using real-time location data.

Bonus tip for marketers: Consider targeting specific location-based audiences with TV ads using audience integrations with Connected TV buying platforms such as Hulu and Roku. Location data allows you to identify those who are still staying home versus those who are out and about and tailor messaging accordingly. Marketers can derive these types of insights on their own by licensing tools like Foursquare Visits. To explore the different location datasets available, please visit us on Amazon Data Exchange today.

For more insights to help your 2021 marketing strategies, download the full Q1 2021 Seasonal Location Strategy Guide.

Editor’s Note:
Foursquare analyzes foot traffic patterns from more than 13 million Americans that make up our always-on panel. All data is either anonymized, pseudonymized or aggregated, and is normalized against U.S. Census data to remove age, gender and geographical bias.

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