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New Rules to Rule the Holiday Season

October 29, 2019

Pumpkins might still be on shelves, but holiday deals are already dropping for many of the nation’s top retailers. Compared to 2018, this year brings six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. A shorter shopping season, combined with always-on online retail and year-round deal days, means consumers are holiday shopping NOW, and brands are getting on board.

For retail marketers that means more competition and higher consumer expectations, as the next two months are bound to be a cluttered, noisy space.

Here are a few new rules to help brands connect with consumers this holiday season:

  • Help consumers escape in-store – Americans spend 11+ hours each day looking at screens and, cross-generationally, we are craving deeper connections. Many may be surprised to learn that even 58% of Gen Z prefer to shop in stores as a form of retail therapy. Help consumers disconnect from the online world at your brick-and-mortar location this holiday season by making the in-store shopping experience personable and convenient: create a warm, comfortable atmosphere (couches, anyone?) that’s easy to navigate, showcase top products out-of-box for consumers to play with, host unique store events and decorate. Make the browsing experience fun.
  • Give authentically, not just because it’s the holidays – The next two months will be ripe with charitable giving, and in a consumer environment where 69% of consumers say it’s more important for brands to talk about their societal and environmental impact versus product benefits, companies may be tempted to grab a megaphone and go all in. Retailers: take caution and be mindful that giving MUST connect authentically to your overall brand. Otherwise, consumers will see right through it. Don’t create a responsibility platform to get credit; instead, commit to creating shared value that’s meaningful to your brand year-round and look for unique ways to amplify that value during the holidays.
  • Take care of their cares – Promotions are a great way to showcase products this holiday season, but be sure to take care of something even more personal to consumers – their data. Put plans in place now that will give customers complete trust in your ability to protect data. It will save your brand’s reputation and integrity and earn you loyal customers.
  • Don’t forget the fundamentals – Nearly 1 in 3 Americans will experience holiday burnout before Christmas. Serving as a resource that makes holiday moments (including shopping) easy and enjoyable is one of the best approaches you can take to help lower your audiences’ stress levels. Offer buy online pick-up in-store (BOPIS) and competitive deals. Ensure websites can handle the influx of traffic. Make sure stores are adequately staffed with friendly, knowledgeable associates. Create frictionless experiences between all purchase channels. Make customers excited to shop with you.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales during November and December to increase between 3.8% and 4.2% over 2018 – strap in for this exciting (sleigh) ride!