podcast

Holiday 2019: Experts Weigh in on What Worked, What Didn't

Jan 23, 2020
Written by CJ Affiliate

Junction Live host and VP of Marketing at CJ Affiliate, Nicole Ron is joined by Lissette Alvarez from Piggy, Dan Cohen from Savings United, and Jeff Unze from BorderX Lab. Together they break down Holiday 2019 and the affiliate marketing strategies that worked and learnings that can help shape strategies for the next season.

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Transcript

INTRO

Junction Live: taking thought leadership off the page and into the studio with some of the sharpest minds in affiliate marketing.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 00:14

Welcome to this episode of Junction Live. I'm your host Nicole Ron, Vice President of Marketing and Business Systems here at CJ Affiliate. I have a very interesting and somewhat meta role with the company. I am a true marketer at heart as that is the core of what I do—I get to market our awesome technology and services to the market but I also know affiliate marketing in and out. I've been with the company for over 12 years now and it's something that I'm extremely passionate about. So today, we'll be taking a look at Holiday 2019 with a few publishers who are experts in their fields. And these fine folks have distribution from across the globe and bring unique insight into seasonal performance across many brands, markets, verticals, and promotional models. So with that, let's go ahead and meet our guests. First up: Lissette Alvarez, Senior Director of Partnerships at Piggy.

LISSETTE ALVAREZ | PIGGY: 01:11

Thank you, Nicole. Thanks so much for inviting me. Piggy is a cashback extension. We do have a site as well. We do offer any sort of promotional coupons or vouchers that are available, but what makes us unique is that it's not a requirement to work with us. We're really excited that we launched last year in the UK and EU markets. So we are live in obviously the UK, Germany, and France and we have plans to expand in other markets as well. So we're really excited about the growth that we have seen and excited obviously to be here.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 01:48

Wonderful. Thank you. And next up we have Dan Cohen, Group Commercial Director at Savings United. He's calling in from London. I have to say, Dan, you definitely sent your weather over to Santa Barbara today. It's quite dreary.

DAN COHEN | SAVINGS UNITED: 02:03

I'm sorry for that. [laughter]

NICOLE RON | CJ: 02:04

That's all right. I'll forgive you just this once. But if you could take a moment to just tell us a little bit about Savings United and the markets that you represent as well.

DAN COHEN | SAVINGS UNITED: 02:13

Of course. Thank you. Yeah, Savings United, we provide content adjacent coupon portals for premium media houses. We do it in about 12 countries. We do it with the likes of The Independent in the UK, Wall Street Journal, PC World and Wired in the US and we do it all the way from LATAM in the US all the way through to mainland to Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and others. We basically provide those coupon and content opportunities in all of those markets.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 02:43

Awesome. Thank you. And of course, last, but certainly not least we've got Jeff Unze, Head of Partnerships at BorderX Lab. It's always great to chat with you. Wonderful to have you on the podcast. If you could quickly give a rundown of what BorderX Lab does in the markets that you represent.

JEFF UNZE | BORDERX LAB: 03:01

Certainly. Great to be here. Thanks for inviting me. So BorderX Lab is the parent company. We create a product discovery app called 别样 in Chinese. We call it Beyond—is sort of the English name. But basically the idea of the app is to allow global Chinese to buy directly from US and European merchants. And we have two value propositions for the platform.

The first is really telling people what's worth buying from the US and Europe and from the various merchants we work with and we accomplish that by writing about 50 articles a day as well as having a lot of user-generated content.

Second value proposition is to really enable purchase for some of these global Chinese who only have mobile Chinese payment perhaps. Perhaps some of these companies don't ship abroad and so we really make it easy for them to buy by offering a Chinese shopping cart doing localization and taking Chinese payment. We are expanding to other markets as well. We just came up with the English version of our app. I think it's live today or tomorrow. And from there, we're also going to use that as the hub to go into other markets that have an emerging middle class that are looking to buy from a more wide array of products from all over the world.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 04:16

Very Cool. Congrats on your launch, I know those are always really exciting days.

JEFF UNZE | BORDERX LAB: 04:19

Thanks.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 04:20

So as you can tell, we've got a really well-versed and diverse group of publishers joining us today. We'll get started with talking about some of the major differences between holiday 2018 and holiday 2019. I think we all realize that we had a much later start to peak holiday shopping, with five fewer days this year between Black Friday and Christmas. I know at CJ we saw a 29% year over year revenue growth, which is phenomenal. Especially when we compare that to Mastercard's 18.8% ecommerce growth in revenue this season. So tell me a little bit about what you saw and how retailers responded to this more-compressed time frame with peak shopping days.

DAN COHEN | SAVINGS UNITED: 05:07

Yeah, I can give you some points from the European perspective. I mean, we found really that the deals started quite early in Europe. So that's starting, let's say, on the Monday prior to Black Friday. And we found that the advertisers were quite quick to respond, actually. If they could see things building up, they were quite keen to get as much as they could out of the time period. So we found them to be very responsive, so that bit was quite good. And what we did find is that the time-specific offers definitely were key to the market in 2019. Anything where you could create that sense of urgency because of the period. Actually in Europe, it became a little bit long. It became the whole week. Anything which you could give people, that call to action worked really well.

LISSETTE ALVAREZ | PIGGY: 05:51

And I think in the US market, we just see growth as the publisher but we certainly did see that a lot of the offers that were being provided were one's that the day after Thanksgiving, so Black Friday. Often times, a lot of these offers start really coming in a little earlier but I believe that a lot of the retailers waited because of the shorter time frame. Normally, in November, we would see something like friends and family happening earlier in the month of November. Get that sort of out of the way and then still be able to get more money out of the consumer later on in the shopping period. But that didn't seem to happen this season. And I think it's because it was a shorter shopping season. And so they were smart about that and very strategic.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 06:35

And in terms of peak seasons, for what you saw between Black Friday, Cyber Monday—the lead up after that into Christmas. Was this year a big growth year for you because of the compression and timing? Tell me a little bit about what you saw in terms of the shopping periods that are traditionally pretty large and how those benchmarked against prior years for you.

LISSETTE ALVAREZ | PIGGY: 06:56

I think for us, we definitely saw some growth but I think that it wasn't as much as maybe in the past years when the shopping period was longer. Even though I know that a lot of brands did provide richer offers. They got sort of better and better as Christmas kind of rolled around. So I think for us, the peak of everything really came down to Cyber Monday and Black Friday. But what I noticed that was a little different was that that weekend, normally a lot of the brands will have their Black Friday special. Have it that one day and then they'll start it up on Cyber Monday. And I think one of the things that they do differently from a peak shopping period is that they really extended that Black Friday offer to happen the entire week. I think that one of the things that I found interesting was there was no peak time on any free shipping offer. Obviously there's Free Shipping Day. Well, what I noticed is that they just offered free shipping continuously. So there wasn't this bump up when there's Free Shipping Day. Instead, it was just sort of something that they were offering consistently. And in some cases towards closer to Christmas, we saw huge a huge bump because they were offering two-day express shipping. I saw more brands doing that. So there was a lot of peaks and valleys. The valleys themselves sort of stayed consistent because of the rich offers and, of course, including the free shipping in there. It was quite interesting to see that graph sort of have a nice peak, but then the valley wasn't as low as it would be in past years.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 08:32

Awesome, that's very helpful. And Dan—I know you mentioned too in our prior call that Black Friday and kind of leading into that weekend, you saw more of a build-up, and then it was really strong. But Cyber Monday for you and your company didn't perform quite as strongly as it does in the US market or maybe even prior years. Can you speak a little bit about what you saw there and why you think that behavior occurred?

DAN COHEN | SAVINGS UNITED: 08:58

Yes, of course. It's a cultural thing, really, isn't it? We don't have, in Europe, Thanksgiving or the fact spending a large period of time with your family. So in fact, it just is a shopping day as far as most people in Europe are concerned. You know you're going to get good deals, and so people obviously spend accordingly. This year, I think we found a number of people starting their promotions earlier in the week as I said before. So UK and Spain, it was really high levels of sales on the Monday/Tuesday. But then Wednesday and Thursday started to dip down just before Black Friday because people obviously are waiting for that deal that they thought was going to be even bigger and even better on the Friday.

But then there were some European markets that actually had the opposite. In Poland and in Italy for example, which are good ecommerce markets, it was a gradual build-up over the course of the week prior. But then, yes, Cyber Monday doesn't seem to be a massive thing in Europe. In the UK, we had more sales on, obviously, Black Friday, but also on the Saturday and Sunday. And then the Monday was actually back to sort of the previous week. It was an elevated level, but nothing remotely on the scale of what we saw with our US projects. And I don't know whether or not that's something that is ever going to change. I think what we do find is that the advertisers, at least, in Europe, tend to be quick to respond. So if they don't necessarily hit their target over the Black Friday period, they will try and make up for it on the Monday.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 10:29

I know that when we spoke, you had a theory as to why Black Friday/Cyber Monday performs really well for US audiences, but maybe hasn't quite picked up for the EU markets. Would you mind sharing that?

DAN COHEN | SAVINGS UNITED: 10:41

If I could remember what it was, I'd be more than happy to.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 10:44

[laughter] I think you basically said—I'm only saying this to put you on the spot—and I think it honestly is a valid point. But in the United States, we're coming out of a holiday. We've had quite a bit of time off with our families, some of us begrudgingly have to go back to work the Monday after, and maybe aren't quite as motivated as we typically would be, and therefore, looking for distraction during the workday to get us through. And if there're solid offers out there that we can take advantage of, then it's a great time to do it. Whereas I think the point that you had made previously was in UK, you're not coming out of that same time off, holiday period, and so for you, it's just another workday. I think that's a fair point.

DAN COHEN | SAVINGS UNITED: 11:30

Yeah, I mean, I think it's one of the sort of cultural learnings that we've picked up as a business over the course of last year because we've only ever been present, really, in European markets. This was our first year in the US. So I mean, even the fact that our US-based team weren't available over the Thanksgiving period was slightly strange for us. The Thursday and all of the week before has always been a normal working day as far as we are concerned. So we haven't sort of seen this experience of Black Friday being big but Cyber Monday being much bigger. And I think yes, absolutely, it's a cultural thing. For us in Europe, it's just—the Wednesday and Thursday are just another normal day. And so I think retailers will change the way that they work as a result.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 12:20

Thank you. Jeff, I know you have a slightly different perspective on the holiday season, given your target audience. Can you tell us a little bit about how Singles' Day kind of plays into holiday and what time frames are peak and kind of what your consumers are looking for from a cross-border, global holiday shopping period in general?

JEFF UNZE | BORDERX LAB: 12:44

Certainly. Because of where we are, obviously most of our users right now are global Chinese and so they've just had the manufactured holiday of Singles' Day, which occurs on 11/11. And Singles' Day was created by Alibaba simply to promote shopping, and the idea is not all of us are involved in relationships and Singles' Day is a great opportunity to treat yourself well and buy yourself something nice. And it's become the biggest discount shopping day in the world.

So our users are already purchasing a lot on 11/11, and then they are certainly in a bargain-hunting mood at that point. They have also learned that for cross-border shipping purpose, the best deals of the year are right around Black Friday/Cyber Monday. So then it's very easy for them to come over, see what really is on sale here in the US through some of our partnerships with both department stores as well as some of the brands. And then we have on the other side another manufactured holiday, 12/12, which is also a big shopping holiday for Chinese. So it's really a month of sales and a month of bargains that people are looking for.

And our different merchants and brands all leaned into different holidays this year. Some really gave us wonderful offers for Singles' Day; some of them really saved many of their best deals for after Thanksgiving and Black Friday; some wanted to really beat—especially when it comes to something competitive like beauty, where 10% or 15% off will really make a huge impact on sales—some of them wanted to take a lot of the demand by providing their best deal maybe a week or two right before Black Friday to, I guess, upstage some of their rivals. It was really a little bit over a month-and-a-half or a little bit over a month of real heavy discounts on the app. Usually we try to balance it between new releases, product discovery, and discounts, but we are very promotional for that whole entire time due to our merchants and brands that we work with.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 14:44

Gotcha. And do you think that's a unique behavior that you've started to see crop up in just 2019? Is it something that's come on over the last couple years or has that been a traditional structure for what you've seen?

JEFF UNZE | BORDERX LAB: 14:58

I think there's been a lot of Christmas creep. I mean, I know we always talk about it—Christmas beginning very early, earlier and earlier, whereas sometimes you see Halloween pumpkins and Christmas wrapping paper on the shelves together at some of your local discount retailers. But I think this year in terms of some of the big online promotions, I thought it was a lot more prevalent this year than it was in past.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 15:23

Well, thanks, guys. I appreciate that. I think what I'd love to dig into now—and you started to talk about it, but I think we can really fine tune what we're discussing—is what offer structures did we see during holiday that really worked or that were simply prevalent?

I know, Lissette, you had talked about tiered offers and the progression of how offers kind of came into the market. Can you talk about what you saw there and why you think that's the approach that retailers took?

LISSETTE ALVAREZ | PIGGY: 15:54

I think that one of the things that I definitely noticed was because of the shorter shopping period, that merchants were really being very strategic in how they provided offers and how rich they became as Christmas rolled around. So a lot of it was spend $150 and get $50 off, spend $250 and get $75 off. So they had these really rich offers to entice the user to purchase things. And then on top of that, they had free shipping—some with thresholds and some with not. I think one of the things that we also need to look at is that all of these retailers are combating Amazon Prime memberships. And so they really have to go in there and dig in deep with these free shipping offers, but then also, on top of that, entice them with some sort of discount to get them to buy things. So a lot of what I saw was as we got some great deals on Black Friday, over the weekend leading into Cyber Monday, and then Cyber Monday itself, I saw that the sort of discounts waited a little bit and then they came back up very aggressively. I think because of this—again, the shorter shopping period, they were looking at numbers, they thought, "Okay, we need to get a little more aggressive on what we need to do," and then they we're providing these offers. I did notice this as well in the European market and it was always last minute. And in some cases, I saw sales for 60% off before Christmas which is very different because usually, we see that percent off happen after for their after Christmas sales. So it was really interesting to see sort of that progression and how strong they really wanted to come on to the users and I think that it worked fairly well in some cases. But in others, if they didn't offer free shipping with it, it was great but it wasn't as good. I think when you have that combination of the discount and the free shipping it did wonders.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 17:55

Thanks!

Dan—I know you mentioned seeing higher AOV this go around. I know we as a network saw about an 18% increase in AOV during peak shopping time frame. Talk to me a little bit about that and how you think brands were accomplishing it and why.

DAN COHEN | SAVINGS UNITED: 18:12

I agree with Lissette and what she was talking about in terms of the tiered offers that consumers would get over the period. But I think when it came to the planning process that we were doing with advertisers a load of them would say, "We know that our average user spends X amount of money. And so if we can get them to spend 10% more, then that would be really advantageous for us and we can afford to give them a deeper discount." So they kind of set those limits. Let's say, "If you spend over $100," or whatever it was. But then we did see that those discounts that would come with that threshold would then get bigger and bigger over the course of the holiday period. As you could then kind of work out what advertisers were doing quite well at the moment and which weren't. And they started relatively low. Spend whatever it was—spend $100 and you get 10% off. By the end of the period, as Lissette said, it was sort of getting up into the 50s and 60s for some people. But I think that was just actually them reacting quite quickly. At least what they've done is worked out that the KPI of revenue and profit when they increase the average order value on a specific product or specific things then they could achieve their goals even if they did have to give some steep discounts.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 19:26

That makes sense. I mean, it's a smart tactic. I know when I used to run site-to-store programs and things along those lines, we use to see that as a very common strategy to use to try to get people to purchase just a little bit more. And to your point, it helps margin management to be able to afford a lot of those discounts while still enticing the consumer into feeling like they're getting a deal while meeting your KPIs. So I think that that makes complete sense.

Jeff—you mentioned previously that what attracts the cross-border shopper is a little bit different than what attracts those in a domestic market. Can you talk to me a little bit about the types of offers that tend to resonate really well and why for your audiences?

JEFF UNZE | BORDERX LAB: 20:11

The cross-border customer is usually looking for something unique that they can't find in their home market. And that unique product might be something that's long tail—maybe a company didn't bring their full array of product into market and so they can buy a brand they love but in a unique style. In many cases, they're looking for a unique promotion. For example, GWPs—gift with purchase—hugely popular here in the US. It's really unknown in China and in other marketplaces like Taiwan and Hong Kong. It's just not usually promoted that way. So customers love that. They also love free shipping. The big barrier to cross-border commerce is the high cost of shipping and so you're looking at $10-$20 to get a package even by the slowest possible method over to places like China or Taiwan. If you can provide free shipping—our AOV is very high for an ecommerce app, I think we're right around $180, $200—but our users, still, even when they buy a $600 coat, they don't want to pay that $20 shipping fee. It's just they don't think they're getting any utility from that. And so we found that free international shipping is worth a 40% discount to our users in their mind. So that allows us to work with a lot of merchants that maybe aren't promotional, but like to offer deals. If they can really offset some of that international shipping charge it can have a huge boost in sales. So I think that's always a positive.

JEFF UNZE | BORDERX LAB: 21:42

Now that we've been working about four and a half years and obviously shipped a lot of packages all over the world, we have a pretty good idea about the varying price points that will really boost sales in a particular product. So we go to a lot of our merchants and we tell them, "Hey, instead of maybe a 10% site-wide, why don't you offer this discount on these specific SKUs" and I think that tends to save them promotional dollars as well because the price elasticity is really different from brand to brand and from product to product. And because we have so much data and can feed that back to them, we can recommend targeted promotions that are perfect for our audience that don't really eat up a lot of their budget.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 22:26

Awesome, thanks. I know you mentioned—I think it was a really poignant point the last time we spoke—about free shipping with regards to your audience, it's essentially equivalent to 40% off in their minds, right? That that element is such an important part of what entices them even if the discount itself isn't necessarily quite as strong?

JEFF UNZE | BORDERX LAB: 22:47

I think that's exactly right and at the end of the day, once again, people when they're buying a brand and they look at value they're looking at the brand they're buying, the product they're buying, the quality. I think shipping—people sort of view that as a given these days and so they don't want to pay for that even if it's relatively cheap. I think the idea of not having to pay for shipping gives people a huge boost in confidence about buying a particular product. It really gets them off zero. So yeah, that's something that we use a lot in our promotions and that we talk about a lot within the app.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 23:22

Gotcha. That makes sense and I think that that's a theme it sounds like globally. Each and every one of you has mentioned free shipping being almost table stakes so to speak or something that consumers expect. And I think we saw that reflected this year with Free Shipping Day. I almost wonder if Free Shipping Day isn't a thing anymore, it's just part of what consumers expect from these brands that they're interacting with.

LISSETTE ALVAREZ | PIGGY: 23:50

I think that as time goes on, free shipping is going to be something that brands are going to probably add as just something that they have consistently because they have to combat with Amazon, who essentially will have their two-day free shipping if you're a Prime Member. The benefits to us is that we do provide that cashback side of things, right. So they can at least try to combat it that way. But that is certainly a fight that we're still having to go into, right? Is that we can offer cashback but we still have to struggle with fighting against Amazon as a publisher as well because if the brand isn't offering the free shipping offer, but we're offering the cashback, it's sort of this pro-con list that the consumer has to make to say, "You know, I need to go ahead and make a choice here." So it definitely is something that I think brands may need to start sort of baking in into their offers to really try to make sure that they get in front of it, especially when Amazon is doing Prime Day. They're doing their own promotional stuff as well to get in front of the consumer. So not just through the holiday season, but perhaps throughout the year as well.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 25:00

I know a big concern that many brands have and have to balance is this "frenemy" relationship with Amazon where if you're choosing to work with them, whether it's through holiday or rest-of-year, and they're offering things like free two-day shipping for Prime members, do you want them to purchase through you or do you want them to purchase through Amazon? And so to your point, considering something like free two-day shipping as part of your standard offering allows many brands to retain those consumers either through their own channels or attain new ones through other channels that are not Amazon to help diversify that and ultimately, help their own margins. So I think that's a really poignant point that resonates, not just through holiday, but through the remainder of the year as well.

DAN COHEN | SAVINGS UNITED: 25:47

If I can add from a European perspective, I mean, we've never really had in the UK this sort of Free Shipping Day, but we certainly have Amazon and Amazon Prime. But I think now we're at that point where, in fact, if someone does have a delivery fee, it tends to be a turn-off for the consumer. They're so used to the convenience of the world in which they live in and the immediacy of getting stuff that actually—they can see the best product in the world, but if they go to the site and all of a sudden it says, I don't know, $4.99 for shipping or it's going to take them a week, they will leave and they will go to the next place and buy it from them. That is the sort of de facto way now. It's brands who don't offer it that tend to have the lower on-site conversion rates as far as we can see, and actually, the free shipping should be standard all year round.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 26:40

Great point. Yeah. I think that's actually a really nice segue into my next question which is: if you had to give one piece of advice or one takeaway for folks listening to this on how to best plan for the 2020 holiday season or even the year in general, what would it be?

LISSETTE ALVAREZ | PIGGY: 27:00

I would suggest to a lot of the brands to really dive in a little deep into what they saw from some of the richer offers they had this season, and follow that into 2020. Some of those rich offers that included free shipping was something that worked fairly well for them and I think that that's something they need to keep in mind, and not just in the US, but I believe in the EU market and just globally, on being able to provide that. I'm certainly not saying they should throw everything but the kitchen sink, but I think one of the things that they might want to have is those very rich offers; maybe not as close together, but sort of get the consumer excited about it, saying, "We're going to give this really great, rich offer," maybe have it for a weekend to try to get them to entice it. I think that's something they need to think about baking in that free shipping offer consistently. Instant gratification is sort of something that online shoppers are now starting to really, really adopt, and that's obviously something that we would see when you go to the store and purchase something. You get very excited. You bring it home. You try it on. I think online shoppers are actually starting to get that now as well, where they're like, "I want the item. I want it now." And so brands can really start to get into doing that. I know it could be costly, but it actually could end up in their benefit if they do that.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 28:20

All right. Dan?

DAN COHEN | SAVINGS UNITED: 28:23

I think from my perspective, in terms of what people need to think about for 2020 is really just quite simple. It's to do with the consumer. I think you just have to put them first and at the very center of everything you're doing and things are changing. 65% of our traffic is mobile-oriented, which has grown significantly over the past year. There's new increases in technology. You've got to make the call to actions and the promotions that you run fit for purpose and make sure that people actually want to click them, and I think sometimes when we dive into the numbers and stuff, you can forget a little bit about that consumer and taking them down the funnel and making them buy. So that's my hint.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 29:11

I think that's fair. I think the consumer should always be at the center of what we do and I know as marketers it's hard when we get into the KPIs and our business goals and everything else that sometimes we lose sight of that, so I think you're absolutely right. The more we can think about consumers, the better we are going to perform in general.

And last, of course, but not least, Jeff, tell us a little bit about what you think people should take away from this holiday season.

JEFF UNZE | BORDERX LAB: 29:36

My takeaway is really, since we had the consumer covered so well there, would be from the affiliate standpoint and I would say for merchants and brands to really communicate with their partners as effectively as possible. For example, we're a content site—the quicker we get promotional calendars and the quicker we understand the plans that these companies make in terms of their promotions, the better we can schedule, the better we can write content, the better we can really plan around them about how we're going to feature them on our app. And I imagine for, really, all publishers it's very similar. The more visibility we get in terms of what the promotions are going to be, the more guidance we can provide. Because it doesn't matter how good your promotion is if we're not able to get proper exposure on it and really help make that shine throughout our various platforms.

I would also say if we're able to get this information beforehand, we can advise as well. That perhaps, there's another promotion over here, maybe you're better off delaying for a week or pushing this forward a week and we can give some guidance basically based on what we're seeing from other merchants in the app, just to make sure that they get full benefit of the promotion they're offering. So I know during Black Friday and during this holiday time everything's very crazy and sometimes last-minute liquidation comes up and last-minute promotions, but I think just an extra couple weeks of providing your plans could really make a big impact on your sales. And we find that the merchants that really planned early were the ones that really did best on our platform during the whole holiday season.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 31:09

That makes sense. This has been such a great discussion and clearly demonstrates the expertise that you bring to the market. So with that and closing out, I have one more really important question—it's probably the most important question I'm going to ask today and it is one that I did not give you in preparation, but what was the best gift that you received or purchased for yourself this holiday season?

And Dan, do you want to go first?

DAN COHEN | SAVINGS UNITED: 31:36

Oh, wow. You've really dropped me in it. Okay, the best thing that I bought was actually something called a sous-vide—

NICOLE RON | CJ: 31:45

Oh, yes.

DAN COHEN | SAVINGS UNITED: 31:47

—yes, which I've never heard of before, but I'm now completely addicted, even though I bought it as a present for my wife.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 31:53

Oh, phenomenal, yeah. And it makes the best steaks; you can even make really good poached eggs with it. I'm all about that.

What about you, Jeff?

JEFF UNZE | BORDERX LAB: 32:01

Let's see. I would say my 11-year-old saved up a lot of his money and got me a kind of a burgundy leather jacket and he bought it for me because he said it would make me look like Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy. It's kind of neat that he still views me as a superhero that needs to get properly equipped—whereas I do not think my 14-year-old views me that way anymore, so at least I get one more year of hero-worship from my 11-year-old; that always feels good.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 32:31

So you're gonna wear that to CJU this year, right?

JEFF UNZE | BORDERX LAB: 32:34

I definitely will. I definitely will. I've been wearing it around the office a lot. It feels very empowering.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 32:40

Awesome. That's a phenomenal gift. All right, Lissette, last but not least.

LISSETTE ALVAREZ | PIGGY: 32:45

Well, I'm going to head on a cruise on the second week of February and my best friend went ahead and purchased the drink packages so that I can have lots of cocktails on my cruise. That, I think, was a phenomenal gift because it's going to have me look forward to a very nice vacation in the sun with a nice adult beverage.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 33:07

Awesome. Well, those are wonderful gifts. I have to say that the best gift that I got this holiday season was nothing that money could buy, but time with my family [laughter]. I've got an eight-month-old daughter, so it was a lot of fun then to be able to take a little bit of time and hang out with her and have her meet a lot of the family members. So I guess plane tickets were the thing that did it for me.

LISSETTE ALVAREZ | PIGGY: 33:29

Aw.

NICOLE RON | CJ: 33:30

Yeah. Wonderful. So this concludes our first episode of Junction Live and I really appreciate the time that all of our fabulous guests—you guys—took out of your day. I know that it's a lot to prepare for this, but you're all marketing rock stars and I know that people are going to be very excited to hear what you saw this last holiday season and ultimately use that to help plan for 2020. And so with that, if you are interested in additional holiday strategies, be on the lookout for our Holiday Benchmark Report, which is coming later this quarter and our annual Holiday Intelligence Report, which is being released this Summer. And until next time—I'll talk to you guys soon. Thank you.

OUTRO

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