Ahead of the Game: Winning Strategies for Q4 Peak Retail Season

Oliver Reading
August 1, 2023

It may only be August but the team at Genie Goals are already thinking about Peak and Q4!  This is the most important quarter of the year for many of our clients. Consumer demand for many industries will be at its highest, whether this be for sportswear, electricals or home accessories. Now is the time to start thinking about how your brand is going to tackle this upcoming period. We know that consumer trends are ever-changing, but being on top of them is essential to a good marketing strategy. Here are a few things to think about if you want to impress your boss in that Q4 planning meeting.

We recently attended an exclusive Google webinar, which allowed us exclusive access to a valuable session to look ahead to Q4. One of the many benefits of being in the top 0.6% of PPC agencies working with Google, is access to sessions like these. The main takeaways from the insights session with Google could be distilled down into three core behaviours that advertisers should adopt as we move into peak. 

Pillar 1: Be There from Today Onwards

To capture the attention of today's discerning consumers, it is essential to establish your brand presence early and be proactive in your approach. 

The path to purchase is longer and more complicated than it’s ever been, with many touchpoints in place between that first interaction between consumer and brand, and that eventual purchase. This is often dubbed “the messy middle”, as consumers bounce between touchpoints before making a purchase. In fact, 72% of consumers will conduct online research before making peak-season purchases. Leverage this by ensuring you’re present at each stage of the journey, from consideration right through to purchase.

“72% of consumers will conduct online research before making peak-season purchases.”

The peak shopping season is starting earlier each year. The veterans among us at Genie Goals remember when Black Friday was just a day or a weekend; now it’s often 2-3 weeks for some advertisers! You’re not alone if you keep thinking Black Friday sales start popping up earlier each year. This was backed up by a survey which suggests that only 29% of shoppers actually shop on the sales days, as the actual “peak” occurs over a longer period, rather than a 2-3 day spike in your Google Analytics data. Consumers have become used to, and expect retailers to have longer sales. Underlining the importance of capturing that consideration and demand in the lead-up to November. 

Pillar 2: Be as helpful as you can be

Consumers, particularly younger generations, value brands that go beyond that transaction and provide genuine value throughout their shopping journey. 

Connecting with these users on the platforms they’re on helps establish awareness, credibility, and trust. Upper-funnel activity on places like YouTube and Google is great for this. This was a Google Webinar, but let’s not forget Meta (Facebook and Instagram), and TikTok, as they’ll also do a great job of connecting with your audience.

“72% of sports, 66% of luxury, and 55% of users have tried a new retailer or product recently.”

Now is a great time to do this, and start gaining brand consideration as branded searches are at their lowest during the consideration phase, where users are searching generically more often. This is from July until late October. Google normally sees branded searches go up after this, suggesting consumers start to get an idea of what they want to purchase after researching in the months prior. It’s vital for advertisers to be present earlier in the process to generate that demand and consideration of their brand, then again over peak when those same users are ready to buy. This is particularly important when considering that 71% of Gen Z and Millennials have tried a new brand or retailer in the last 6 months. Compared to just 47% of the UK overall. This is happening across all categories. For example, 

YouTube, Meta, and TikTok are great opportunities for this. Millennials and Gen Z love short-form video, which has been heavily influenced by the rise of TikTok over the last few years. This led Instagram and YouTube to invest heavily in the concept shortly after. Think about it, how long do you, or your kids spend scrolling videos each day? Over 50% of under-35s use short-form content for inspiration. By utilising engaging video content, brands can tap into the discovery phase and capture the attention of potential buyers. YouTube and Google see surges of “reviews” searches as consumers seek signs of trust, with trust ranked amongst the most important factors users state when choosing a new brand or retailer.

Whilst doing so, it’s important not to lose sight of your customers’ needs, such as price, sustainability, and ethics. Tailor your messaging to align with these values, thereby building a relationship and resonating with your target audience.

Pillar 3: Make it relevant

When you’re scrolling through Netflix, you don’t want recommendations for series you’d never watch. It’s the same when searching for products online, or whilst being served an ad before your favourite cat video on YouTube. In a crowded retail landscape, brands must strive to make their offerings relevant and valuable to consumers. 

Personalised recommendations hold significant importance for 80% of consumers under 35. Leverage your first-party data and tailor your messaging to provide personalised experiences and recommendations, catering to individual preferences and needs. No two customers are the same!

On search, queries in Google are getting longer and more complex. Leverage long-tail keywords to capture their intent and offer relevant solutions. Also consider splitting your campaigns by branded and generic terms, allowing for greater control of budget allocation to each type of term, plus making your analysis easier. 

With just over four months to peak, now is also a good time to check in on your Google Shopping feed. Making sure you have high-quality attributes going into the Merchant Centre. The more Google knows about your products, the better it can match them to searches. Make sure every coat has a size, and every TV has its key features listed!

Alongside this in your Performance Max campaigns, don’t forget about your video assets. Including a video in Performance Max adds up to 12% incremental conversions. Adding one of each of a landscape, square, and portrait creative can increase this further up to 20%. 

“Including a video in Performance Max adds up to 12% incremental conversions”


If you’re not already chatting about peak and Q4 at your business, then my advice is to book a meeting with your relevant stakeholders now. Consumers are starting their research earlier, and Black Friday isn’t just a day any more. The next couple of months are vital to lay the groundwork before the shopping season begins. Being present early, offering assistance, and providing relevant and personalised experiences will enhance customer engagement, and solidify your brand's reputation. Be there early, use first-party data, and make your assets relevant, so that when they come to buy, you’re already top-of-mind.


  • Google / Trinity McQueen February 2023 unweighted
  • How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements - Google commissioned Ipsos Customer Continuous UK
  • Google / Trinity McQueen Feb 2023 UK Q23. Thinking about when you’re gathering information about which [category] products to buy, what proportion of your time do you spend doing the following.
  • Google / Ipsos holiday shopping study Oct 2022 - Jan 2023. Online survey. Base holiday shoppers.
  • Google / Ipsos - how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements
  • Holiday shopping study Oct 13 2022 - Jan 4 2022 
  • Google internal data Jan-Jun 2023.
  • Google / Trinity Mcqueen February 2023 - have you bought any new retailers or brands or tried any new in the last 6 months that you weren’t previously using?
  • Google / Trinity McQueen, February 2023 UK 3742
  • Q35 - Google / Trinity Mcqueen February 2023 - have you bought any new retailers or brands or tried any new in the last 6 months that you weren’t previously using?
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