Navigating the 2020 Holiday Season

For most brands, anticipation for this year’s holiday shopping season is about more than sharing warmth and cheer. When it comes to preparing holiday sales campaigns, many are finding themse...
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Navigating the 2020 Holiday Season

For most brands, anticipation for this year’s holiday shopping season is about more than sharing warmth and cheer. When it comes to preparing holiday sales campaigns, many are finding themselves in uncharted waters while waiting nervously for holiday spending to make or break their year.

While we admit 2020 has been unpredictable, we do have some forecasts—and suggestions—when it comes to approaching the holidays.

 

It will be a digital holiday after all.

Only 4% of survey respondents plan to shop entirely brick-and-mortar on Black Friday. 62% say no amount of safety measures could convince them to shop in-store at all.

That said, don’t get your tinsel in a tangle. The consumers aren’t gone. They’ve simply moved online. Ecommerce has been a bright spot for brands since the pandemic began so it’s unsurprising online sales will also dominate holiday shopping. 71% of U.S. adults report plans to rely on digital for more than half their holiday purchases this year and nearly 50% are more interested in online shopping now than in 2019. Even older customers who usually shop in-store will shop online for the near future after tackling the technology barrier this spring.

As a result, decking your aisles for an in-store display won’t suffice this holiday season. Instead, direct your ad spend towards marketing channels connecting with consumers in their homes. One favorite duo? TV and digital pair well to drive awareness and performance—while reaching customers at their couch or on their phone. Plus, TV can also draw customers into a full brand experience too often missed when purchasing online rather than in-person.

 

The holidays come early.

It’s official: consumers will be shopping earlier in the season than ever before. In 2019, half the holiday season’s revenues were complete by the first week of December, a trend toward early gift purchases that will only be exaggerated this time around.

Holiday promotions appear sooner each year but driving factors now also include Amazon’s Prime Day. Scheduled only weeks before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Prime Day will establish an early shopping mindset and set expectations for the season.

Budgets affected by the pandemic also have consumers planning their purchases earlier to hunt for bargains and avoid expensive last-minute buys. And concerns about long shipping times experienced this spring will have consumers making their orders well in advance.

For brands hoping to boost sales early in the season, convenience and clarity are key. It isn’t only your business that’s stressed about the holidays this year. Consumers want to shop hassle-free. That’s why they’re planning ahead and they expect you to do the same.

First, streamline your shopping experience for our newly digital world. Do you provide curbside pick-up? What are your shipping timelines? Then communicate your offerings. Take initiative to start your holiday messaging by mid-October to ensure your customers don’t have to hunt for information.

 

It’s proven value that counts.

Even with tightened belts, consumers expect to spend amounts similar to past years. They’ll just be selecting their purchases more carefully. Electronics, leisurewear and office supplies will be popular among those working or studying from home, and practical purchases like gift cards and household goods will be trendier than plaid pajamas and scented candles this holiday season.

To convince customers your brand is the right choice, highlight value and authenticity. Consumers are judging brands strictly and failure to measure up along any point in the shopping experience could be grounds for crossing your brand off the shopping list.

For building brand trust, look to traditional media like TV. TV’s long history, plus the costs often associated with airing a commercial, present it as a more reliable source of information than digital.

 

Whatever happens this fall, one thing is certain: it has been a year unlike any other. Both consumers and brands have been through a lot and we could all use a little holiday spirit. Embrace the season. Your customers—and your sales numbers—will thank you.

Catrina McAuliffe
Catrina McAuliffe
SVP Brand Strategy

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