How Does the Holiday Season and Audience Behavior Impact the Digital Publishing Industry?

Fact checked by Vahe Arabian
Vahe Arabian

Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, my passion is to uncover talent and… Read more

Edited by Vahe Arabian
Vahe Arabian

Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, my passion is to uncover talent and…Read more


Paulina Kubala-Chuchnowska holds a position of Marketing Specialist at PressPad Digital Publishing, a company that creates mobile magazine apps, digital newsstands for PDF issues, and...Read more

When the dust settles after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the next stop on the road to shopping madness is the holiday season. Both entrepreneurs and customers are preparing for the festive period — everyone is eager for the shopping to begin. But those who can kill two birds with one stone are digital publishers.

After last year’s disappointing holiday season, we all know what I’m talking about, consumers seem to have a more positive outlook for this year’s festive period and appear ready to increase their holiday spending.

Forecasts from Deloitte point to a 9% uptick in U.S. consumer spending this holiday season compared to the same period of 2020, when spending amounted to $1.2 trillion. 

Most of this will be allocated to shopping, presents, decorations and travel. Is there any profit for the digital publishing industry here?

Of course, there is.

The thing is, what we spend our money on hasn’t changed — the way we spend it has. This impacts the digital publishing industry the most. 

How has consumer behavior changed?

The pandemic changed many different aspects of our lives, with lockdowns proving to have the most influence. They forced entrepreneurs into the digital space, leaving customers to buy almost everything online. 

This trend is likely to continue. Last year saw an 84% increase in the number of consumers shopping online, according to a Linnworks report. Deloitte, meanwhile, has said spending between November 2020 and January 2021 totalled $189 billion, while projecting that online holiday spending would increase by 11-15% this year. 

People are more likely to buy goods online because of its convenience, competitive prices and the chance to buy products from around the world.

What does the process of finding products look like?

Digital buyers are influenced by a range of online resources during the shopping process, such as ads, newsletters, product reviews, etc. What’s more, the increasing number of devices with an internet connection allows products to be purchased almost anywhere and at any time. It might seem that buying has never been easier. But is that really the case?

In fact, consumers have to potentially sift through hundreds of websites and thousands of products to find something that suits them; they’ll then have to compare a few products and their prices, and then read the reviews. According to Google, 78% of consumers have spent more time researching a brand or product online than they have researching in store.

It takes hours, yet it’s a normal part of the purchasing process. 

Online retailers face a real challenge then: how do they encourage customers to buy from their stores?

Anyone in product sales should know that in order to be effective, it is necessary to increase the number of touchpoints between a potential customer and the brand. Content diversification is key to success.

Online shopping is a new growth opportunity for digital publishers this holiday season

The truth is that, given the wealth of available products, people don’t need help finding things to buy. Rather, they need help sorting through the endless mountain of available stuff. As people scour the web looking for that perfect gift, what they really need is inspiration.

How to find online shopping inspiration this holiday season

Emotional stories and heartwarming photos trigger positive feelings.

Retailers, small businesses and other organizations selling their products online should sell stories and emotions instead of products. What’s the best channel to do it? Social media, you could argue. And you’d be right. But there is something else that deeply resonates with customers and enjoys a certain prestige not necessarily found in short posts.

E-commerce should offer an online holiday catalog for current and future customers. 

While digital magazines are one way to succeed in e-commerce in general, product catalogs should be the centrepiece during the holiday period, as they can inspire people and subtly promote products or offerings. If you, as an entrepreneur, are already publishing a digital magazine, then your holiday issue should be unique and offer products in a more visible way than usual. 

The holiday catalog is far from a new idea, but its form has changed. Consumers still love to sit and flip through pages, even if they’re digital. Scrolling and browsing collections put in one place awakens consumers’ nostalgia, and makes shopping easier thanks to hyperlinks.

What are the elements of a good online holiday catalog?

  • Online catalogs should show your products in an encouraging and inspirational form to further demonstrate proof of your product: beautiful photos, a product video, a 360-degree product image, or link to live reviews.
  • The catalog should be easy to embed on your website and share via email or social media.
  • The catalog is a great chance for additional monetization through advertisers and affiliate partners. Entrepreneurs can sell ad space directly to advertisers — either for display ads, banner ads, sponsored posts or native content. 
  • One idea is to put price comparisons among the sea of holiday buying guides, product reviews and daily deal promotions. A comparison shopping solution reduces user reliance on any individual retailer, while increasing your overall affiliate revenue. 
  • Hyperlinks leading directly to the shop are the cherry on top. 

We’ll find most of these features in the holiday catalog I’m about to show you.

Digital holiday catalog in e-commerce reality

Let’s look at one of the online catalogs published this year by an e-commerce company.


Weston Table 



Who are they? 

They describe themselves as “an online marketplace for the conscious consumer that showcases provenance, authenticity, artisanal quality, creativity, and a bit of inspirational wow.”

They offer many products divided into such categories as cookware, kitchen, textiles as well as baby and child.

About their holiday catalog:

Weston Table’s Holiday 2021 Catalog is a flipbook publication that allows customers to turn pages like in a print publication. Customers can use arrows or scroll to browse through it. The catalog is available for free on the shop’s website.

The Weston Table Holiday 2021 Catalog

This catalog presents inspirational photos under the slogan “living, giving and entertaining”, as well as specific products. Clicking on the photo leads directly to the store, where we can instantly buy the relevant item. This possibility is something that traditional commerce and print publishing simply cannot offer.

The experience’s holiday focus essentially capitalizes on our nostalgia.

Holiday catalogs’ influence on publishing

Online magazines are much more than professional publications created by editorial teams with years of publishing experience. They are much more than the shift of popular print titles into the digital space. 

The concept of an online magazine is much broader. It can include smaller, online publications, the authors of which may have different businesses offering various services or products. 

Online publishing technology is available to everyone today and can make every entrepreneur a publisher. The popularity of online magazines created by non-publishing companies is growing. No wonder, since it can bring more customers and thus more sales. Especially during the holidays.

Even if online holiday catalogs aren’t out to compete with online magazines created by professional editorial teams, the best of them are raising the bar, offering quality editorial content and artful design that can inspire and improve the digital publishing industry.



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