As Black Friday draws closer and officially kicks off the peak shopping season, retailers are competing for consumer attention with the aim of being at the top of everyone’s shopping list. Winning over customers during the biggest shopping season of the year is a challenge. However by understanding the connections between consumers and brands through the 4C Insights Affinity Graph™ retailers can find those unexpected audiences to make the season a success.

For popular brick and mortar and online retailers Target, Walmart, and Amazon, we used the 4C Insights Affinity Graph™ to find how brand affinities changed from Q3 to Q4, showing how interests changed for their consumers heading into the holidays. For each of the three retailers, brands in the snacks, alcohol, health, fitness & personal care, and home & garden categories showed high quarter-over-quarter changes in affinity. These categories reflect several themes common to the holidays – increased time with family, cold & flu season, sales on home improvement items, and New Year’s resolutions.

While it may not be an obvious choice for retailers to target consumers engaging with cold & flu brands like Breathe Right on social media for holiday shopping ads, the brand was actually a strong fit for both Walmart and Target in Q4. Those engaging with each retailer didn’t engage with Breathe Right in Q3, but were 5 and 6 times more likely, respectively, to engage with the brand in Q4 last year. By targeting consumers engaging with Breathe Right, these retailers could capture this timely audience by offering promotions for last minute holiday gifts for those consumers looking to make a quick stop for their winter remedies.

In addition to the categories common to each of the retailers we looked into, brand affinities for Target also fell in to the kids, yogurt, fashion, men’s grooming, and bridal categories. Holistically, these affinities suggest that those interested in Target may tend to be upper-middle class families. Affinities for brands like Babies ‘R’ Us and Meccano point towards these families having children in a wide age range.  An increase in brand affinity of 346% for JBL and 246% for Bose from Q3 to Q4, as well as affinity for appliance brands like Bosch and Frigidaire, also suggests that these tech-savvy families have a reasonable amount of disposable income.

With affinities in the toys & games, travel, home & garden, and e-commerce categories, consumers who engage with Walmart also seem to be families, but a closer look at the specific brands in each category points to these families doing more DIY projects around the house. A higher affinity with brands like Ace Hardware, Bosch Tools, Lowe’s and Black & Decker suggests that these families are spending time doing home improvement projects themselves. An affinity for e-commerce brands like Warby Parker and Teleflora also suggests that Walmart shoppers would be more interested in online shopping-related advertising.

With more and more holiday shopping happening online each year, we also looked into affinities for e-commerce giant, Amazon. Consumers engaging with brands in the coffee, finance, travel, cosmetics, and pets categories were also engaging with Amazon during the holidays last year. Interest in high-end brands such as SoulCycle, Marchesa, and Shiseido suggest Amazon holiday shoppers tend to be more of a white-collar audience than the other two retailers. Turbotax, Lending Tree, and Lending Club, which were each new brand affinities from Q3 to Q4, point towards the Amazon audience making financial decisions online.

The 4C Insights Affinity Graph™ provides marketers with powerful insights that can help uncover audiences and understand the connections across brands, media, and technology, during any season. Stay tuned as we continue to use affinities to show connections in retail, pop-culture, sports, and politics, and subscribe to our newsletter to get updates in your inbox.

Catch up on our data around this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday social media engagement in volume 84 of our newsletter.