Much like this year’s back-to-school shopping season, 2021 holiday shopping will take on extra importance for eager consumers looking to resume traditions derailed by COVID-19. Deloitte predicts a 7 to 9% increase in holiday spending this year compared to 2020, and JungleScout found that 31% of surveyed consumers plan to start shopping before Halloween.
This year, the most successful retailers will be the ones who can thoughtfully address this heightened (and early) demand. Your holiday campaigns should not only strategically show how you can bring the most value to consumers but should also strive to connect with them on an emotional level.
Stand out from the retail competition and make the most of your 2021 holiday season by building on these five data-backed retail trends in your holiday marketing strategy:
1. Consumers Have Concerns About Supply Chain Issues
There’s increased excitement around holiday shopping this year as families look to resume more normal gatherings. However, there’s also increased consumer stress because of COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions that will affect retail inventory and shipping. Retailers can assuage these worries and still offer a positive customer experience with timely offers and transparency.
In your holiday campaigns, you can offer time-sensitive deals to drive purchases. Letting consumers know exactly how and when they can get the most bang for their buck reduces the feeling that they’re going to miss out. You can also write calls-to-action for new email subscriptions that emphasize the value of being the first to know about product availability updates.
While supply chain problems are outside your control, you can control what you do to bring consumers more peace of mind. Measures like enhanced package tracking, offering discounts if products sell out, and robust customer support to find the perfect gift are all positive actions to take — and they should take center stage in your holiday marketing strategy. Use a dedicated webpage or send an email expressing empathy for consumer concerns and detailing how your team is doing the best they can to give everyone the holiday shopping experience they deserve.
2. Reliance on E-Commerce Is Growing
From 2019 to 2020, e-commerce holiday sales shot up by 35.8% and should further grow by 11 to 15% this year. This increase in online holiday shopping reaffirms how valuable your website is to create a positive consumer experience that drives sales.
To bring the most holiday cheer possible to your consumers in their online shopping experience, ask yourself these three questions:
- Does my website seamlessly scale on mobile devices? Mobile shopping during the holiday season in the United States increased by approximately 19.6% from 2019 to 2020, according to Statista. Consumers also use more mobile coupons annually. If your website’s reliability, design, and ease of use don’t translate tfo mobile, shoppers will turn elsewhere.
- Is the most important information clearly displayed? Your homepage should prominently display the most appealing holiday deals and products. This keeps consumers on your website longer (they aren’t leaving because they can’t quickly find what they need), increasing their likelihood of purchasing.
- Can I improve the checkout process? With a greater sense of urgency this season comes a greater desire for a quick, reliable checkout experience. You can simplify the account creation and login process by using an authentication tool that minimizes consumer hassle and maximizes your retail conversions.
Festive web design is also a must, and no retail website is complete during the holidays without a digital gift guide. These eye-catching interactive tools simplify holiday shopping for consumers by categorizing products based on attributes like price, personality, and recipient. You can also repurpose holiday gift guides into email and social media content, helping you grow web traffic and sales.
In its 2021 Retail Industry Outlook study, Deloitte found that less than 30% of executives said their companies had “mature digital capabilities.” The more you invest in optimizing your website for consumer engagement, the greater competitive advantage you’ll gain that extends far beyond the 2021 holiday season.
3. More Consumers Use Social Media to Find and Buy Products
Consumers—particularly millennials and Gen Zers—are increasingly turning to social media to discover new brands and products. Not only can you sell directly through your Facebook and Instagram accounts, but you can use them to create a holiday marketing strategy that drives brand loyalty (and holiday spirit)!
People trust social media content more than traditional ads because it’s perceived as more authentic. You can reinforce this brand trust in your holiday campaigns by balancing explicit product promotions with more general holiday posts that just focus on connecting with users.
Consider the following fun ideas as you look to creatively connect with your holiday shoppers on social media:
- Polls on product and trend preferences
- Live Q&As and store tours
- Behind-the-scenes videos showing how your brand preps stores and handles orders during the holidays
You can also boost your authenticity and sales by incorporating positive user-generated content about your brand into your holiday posts and your referral marketing content. This can happen by partnering with influencers, creating a custom brand hashtag with prizes for the best posts, or sharing videos of your employees discussing their must-have holiday items.
4. Businesses and Consumers Are Focused on Community Wellbeing
The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the importance of taking care of each other and of self-care, and many retailers have used this as a theme in their holiday marketing strategy to strengthen brand trust. As Valassis notes in its 2021 Consumer Intel Report, people want to “buy from brands that demonstrate socially responsible behavior.”
While the percentage of surveyed consumers who felt comfortable shopping in-store increased from 34 (2020) to 73%(2021), you should still emphasize how your company is protecting the physical health of customers and employees. Highlight options like curbside pickup, online shopping, and touchless payments that make consumers feel more comfortable — and it’s never a bad idea to leave out hand sanitizer.
You can also show your care for consumers and the greater community by focusing on boosting their emotional wellbeing. One way to do this is using a nominate-a-friend program that rewards individuals making a difference. Not only does this demonstrate your commitment to helping others, but it lets your consumers take an active role in the process and connect with the holiday spirit of giving. This reinforces brand trust and helps consumers to feel part of something bigger than themselves.
For your holiday campaign content, ‘tis the season to be cheesy. Sixty-eight percent of surveyed consumers prefer uplifting messaging, and cultivating positive emotions through your campaigns creates a consumer association between your brand and those warm, fuzzy feelings.
Source: Aldi UK – Grocery store Aldi warmed hearts across the United Kingdom with its 2020 holiday campaign featuring Kevin the Carrot.
5. Personalization as a Necessity for Consumers, Not Just a Bonus
The more you personalize your marketing communications to enhance relevance for consumers, the more likely they are to buy from your brand. This enhanced customer experience also translates to greater profits, with 71% of retailerssurveyed by Netcore Cloud seeing at least four times their return on investment through personalization efforts.
Consumers appreciate brands that can address their specific needs and treat them as individuals, not just a number. One of their most sought-after forms of personalization is product recommendations based on shopping habits, which you can offer on your website, in personalized emails. This makes holiday shopping easier when consumers have relevant product suggestions.
You can also use the data collected from consumers’ shopping history to send them timely discounts on products they’re likely to be interested in. Sixty-nine percent of surveyed consumers found it “exciting” to get a coupon or discount when they were shopping for a specific item, so this holiday marketing strategy creates a better consumer experience and makes them more likely to spend.
Lastly, you can bring a personal touch to the consumer experience by engaging with them individually on social media. Wish them happy holidays and compliment their posts — a little like or comment can go a long way!
Make Your Spirits (and Sales) Bright This Holiday Season With a Referral Program
Think of a formal referral program like one of Santa’s elves — it helps keep your business operating at full power. Bring some extra magic to your holiday marketing strategy by implementing one of Extole’s customizable referral programs.