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Winter is coming. The jackets and boots are out of hiding, and the holiday shopping season has begun. Forecasters, including Deloitte, have indicated sales are expected to grow 3-4% this holiday season; and, as the economy continues to improve, consumers are encouraged to shop until they drop.

With holiday shopping on every retailer's mind, our team wanted to find out what consumers are truly looking for when making a purchase this season.

After taking a hard look at the retail environment, we realized consumers today are increasingly using experiences to define themselves: Instagramming drinks at the hottest night club, chronicling a trip on Snapchat, or raving about the best food in town on Facebook are just a few of the new ways consumers are interacting with brands.

There is no question that rather than merely purchasing material items, consumers are looking for experiences that enrich their lives.

Through our research (email required), we were able to determine the following top experiences customers really want, and what strategies retailers should implement to best reach experience-driven shoppers.

Lovers of Luxury

The most popular shopping experience for today's consumer is the luxury experience: 34% of consumers say they love luxury.

Traditionally associated with high-end retailers, luxury lovers want to feel special, and they crave exclusivity and expect personalized touchpoints in both their online and in-store shopping experiences.

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image of Berkley Bowen

Berkley Bowen is Founder and CEO of Cue Connect, which helps retailers communicate with shoppers and track what those shoppers share or save while browsing an e-commerce site.

LinkedIn: Berkley Bowen