The holiday season is already here: 3 considerations to inspire consumer engagement

14. October 2020

30-second summary:

  • Returning to business involves much more than just opening the doors; it also means delivering messaging that will resonate in an incredibly competitive marketplace.
  • Understanding hyperlocal behavior allows brands to connect the message and media to the buying and interest signals coming from the marketplace – ultimately ensuring that advertising is relevant and effective.
  • A single spike won’t drive the growth businesses need, or the engagement required for long-term customer relationships. Brands must plan promotional events throughout the year to continue to attract new shoppers while retaining existing ones.
  • This year more than others, the holiday season is critical. In 2020 retailers need to start the holiday season early.
  • Another way retailers can elevate their brands and get more eyes on their products is by banding together for wider appeal.

The holiday season is always a crucial time for retailers. This year it is even more critical, as leading up to what is typically the busiest time of year, businesses of all sizes across industries were impacted by COVID-19.

In 2020, the holidays effectively start in October. Back to school and Halloween aren’t what they once were, but holiday is a time for consumers to reconnect with loved ones – even from a distance. While Black Friday will be largely different, the season starts now.

Returning to business involves much more than opening the doors; it also means delivering a message that will inspire purchase behavior in an incredibly competitive marketplace. To do so, marketing must be sensitive to a number of factors, including:

  • Timing: When is each location open, based on state-mandated restrictions?
  • Messaging: What is the right tone to be appropriately aware and cautious?
  • Focus: To what end and through which channels should a message be sent?

With these questions in mind, here are three strategies for marketers to strike the right balance, reorient their strategies and drive consumer engagement.

Understand dynamic, hyperlocal behavior and media appeal to authentically engage

Act on hyperlocal differences, knowing how and when it is best to engage.

What’s happening in different markets – whether that be COVID-19 spikes, the varied back-to-learning environments and even threatening weather conditions – must be reflected in the approach marketers take. Focus on tone.

Humanize your advertising. Sometimes, standing out is being empathetic. Understanding behavior at a local level allows brands to match the message and media to the buying and interest signals coming from the marketplace – driving relevancy and performance.

One way to do this is by keeping a keen eye on the creative aspects to make certain a campaign is resonating with your target audience. The creative aspects must be compelling and match the tone and sentiment with the location.

If markets have rigorous restrictions in place, focus on a push to ecommerce.

For areas with increased in-store shopping availability, align the creative to share that stores are not only open, but also safe and welcoming. Verify the products being marketed are truly in stock for that location to enhance the shopping experience.

Use promotions to connect and build enduring relationships

In today’s world, consumers voraciously seek savings and a sense of normalcy. Without a doubt, holiday shopping and gatherings will look different, but businesses have an opportunity to rise to the occasion.

A recent study by Kantar, “Preparing for Holiday 2020,” found that money saved from less travel and eating out will shift to retail with growth expected despite the economic disruption brought on by the pandemic.

Promotional events that uniquely connect with consumers, can be a way to entice shoppers to spend with ease of mind and added savings.

A single spike in sales is not sufficient to drive the growth businesses need nor the engagement required to build long-term customer relationships.

Promotional events should extend well before as well as beyond the holiday, attracting new shoppers while retaining existing customers. Take Home Depot for instance.

The home improvement giant is planning two months of “Black Friday” sales – building a healthy calendar of deals to drive purchases spanning a longer period of time tied directly to holiday shopping.

Gone are the days of being the first person in-store after Thanksgiving dinner. Shopping is done on a more continual basis, and Home Depot’s strategy is one way to set the tone early and often.

More and more brands won’t wait to kick off sales the Friday after Thanksgiving – the time is now. The National Retail Federation found that half of retailers they surveyed expect consumers to begin their shopping in October this year.

In fact, more than two dozen major U.S. retailers announced a holiday discount event in October, dubbed 10.10 Day. Amazon’s Prime Day is October- think of how many shoppers will be online that day.

Those retailers that greet shoppers with compelling promotions and ready inventory will win.

In a recent holiday-focused survey conducted by Valassis, more than one-third (34%) of consumers said that they are more likely to purchase holiday gifts during Amazon Prime Day this year as it’s closer to the holidays.

Not only do these events appeal to value-driven shoppers, but they’ll ease supply chain disruptions for retailers ahead of the lead-up to the holidays, especially following product shortages and delays from the pandemic.

Unite with partners that bring value

We’re entering a Q4 unlike any other in years past, but one thing is constant: consumers crave value. What does value mean in 2020? Valassis’ Consumer Intel Report found that 72% of consumers prioritize saving money by using coupons and discounts.

Value, however, is multi-dimensional in the consumer’s mind, and there are many factors beyond affordability that influence their decision to buy from a certain brand – such as quality, safety, sustainability, support of diversity/equality, and fair employment.

One example of this in action is that 38% of consumers are purposefully planning to do holiday shopping at businesses owned by a person of color or that promote cultural diversity, according to Valassis’ holiday survey.

One way retailers can offer more value to consumers is by banding together with other value-driven brands for wider appeal.

For example, more than 300 retailers (including ALDO, GameStop, and Macy’s) will participate in RetailMeNot’s annual “Cash Back Day” this November 5-6, offering gift-givers a head start on their holiday shopping with up to 20% cash back.

Primarily, this helps shoppers earn money back on their purchases from not just one, but several of their favorite brands. It also creates an opportunity to expose brands to a broader customer base by incentivizing consumers to engage in a single event offering multiple deals.

We know that consumers’ buying habits have changed, and we have a sense of how different locations have been impacted by the pandemic and all things that stem from it.

To motivate purchases, whether in-store or online, depending on the region, retailers must prioritize timely deals and multichannel visibility.

With a deep understanding of shoppers based on in-market signals, past purchase behavior, interests and what motivates them, marketers are armed with insights to build data-driven campaigns.

With this, they are able to give consumers both a sense of normalcy and the value they crave while also better invest their marketing dollars, optimize their media mix and inspire purchase behavior. It’s about illuminating a new path forward.

The post The holiday season is already here: 3 considerations to inspire consumer engagement appeared first on ClickZ.

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