The early bird gets the worm. At least, that’s what many businesses are banking on this holiday season now more than ever.
This year’s back-to-school season – different as that may look – is in full swing. For many consumers, back-to-school truly signals the kick-off to the holiday season. As folks move fluidly from back-to-school shopping to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa to the New Year to Valentine’s Day to… it’s a mad dash for most industries including those in lifestyle, family brands, food and beverage, franchise and more as businesses compete for impressions and sales. In a COVID-19 landscape, this year’s competition will be especially stiff as consumers’ new lifestyles will shape holiday purchases.
The aisles and online retail sites are already filling with this holiday season’s latest and greatest. As the holiday season kickoff seems to creep earlier and earlier each year, iconic candy corn company Brach’s, has launched their newest flavor: Turkey Dinner. And yes, flavors include roasted turkey, green beans, ginger-glazed carrot, sweet potato pie and cranberry sauce. Love it or leave it? Online chatter shows mixed reactions. But, then again, it’s still summer…
And, Brach’s isn’t alone – in these late days of summer, brands like Starbucks and Dunkin and craft beer breweries like Four Peaks Brewing Company race to the market. The pumpkin spice everything vibe has already started flowing: coffee and muffins and beer and hand sanitizer, oh my! Oh, and these pumpkin-spice scented face masks, because it’s 2020 and all bets seem to be off.
Here are 7 trends we can expect to shape this year’s holiday season and how you can prepare your brand strategy:
With the travel industry essentially at a halt and social distancing anticipated to continue through the holiday season, we should expect to continue to see an uptick in products aligning with the homebody. From leggings to laptops, remote learning tools to work-from-home gadgets, consumers will continue to focus on a hybrid of necessities and comfort items, and this is likely to be a trend in holidays shopping as well. If online purchasing is (or should be) part of your business strategy, finalize a holistic marketing strategy now; ramp up messaging around online purchasing, quick delivery and convenient options. And, if you will promise consumers quick delivery and convenience, now is the time to ensure that operational and technical measures are in place to support a potential increase in traffic.
Curbside pick-up and delivery options
And, speaking of quick delivery and convenient options, these along with safety, will be absolutely essential for this year’s consumer who will not be satisfied with less. From groceries to retail to restaurants, put a plan in place now to staff up on shopping assistants and delivery persons. Coupled with the current unemployment rate, expect to see both a hiring surge for roles like these and an influx of potential candidates. Finding qualified people is crucial to ensuring you’re able to provide the best curbside, delivery and/or shipping options this holiday season.
Deals you can’t say no to
With spending trends of consumers having abruptly shifted in the COVID-19 landscape, shoppers are already more selective than usual when making the purchasing decision on how and where to spend their dollars. With heightened competition in the Q4 marketplace, there is no doubt that consumers will be on the hunt for the very best deals of the season. Now is the time to determine what compelling deals you can offer to customers and how to drive awareness to your brand differentiators so that you can ultimately activate them to convert. And, consider putting additional monitoring in place to closely watch what your competitors are offering
By this we mean optimize your in-store space so that your consumer can get in and out quickly and safely. You’ve likely done this over the past few months, but now is the time to reevaluate how your processes are performing. Evaluating the current process is not a task for a staffer or junior employee – rather, ensure that a key stakeholder owns this process as ease, convenience and safety of shopping are the expectation and crucial to the sales process.
Groceries and holiday meals
The grocery industry has seen a massive uptick in sales as many people are cooking at home. However, holiday food shopping is likely to be down as folks won’t likely be gathering for large holiday meals and parties.
Restaurants and holiday meals
On the flipside, for restaurants including quick service and fast casual, this may provide the opportunity to amplify messaging around safe and convenient options – your consumers can still treat themselves this holiday season with special take-out, 3rd party delivery, family meals and catering options.
Retail and returns
With online purchasing trending up, purchases made sight unseen are likely to mean increased buyer’s remorse, wrong size, etc., leading to higher rate of return. Ensure to implement messaging so that your customer understands your policy on returns. And, now is the time to evaluate an existing or create a new plan to address the sanitizing of returns.
To compete in the marketplace, now is the time to put your plan in place. This year’s consumers will seek nothing short of convenient, safer, affordable deals. Consumers will continue to spend more time online, meaning 3rd party validation via earned media and influencer partnerships, along with sponsored content and digital advertising spend are a crucial part of your marketing mix. The savviest of brands will implement an aggressive 360˚ marketing strategy to amplify messaging, build awareness and convert to sales. What your strategy?