We’ve been hearing it over and over again, 2020 was a wild ride with twists and turns along the way that none of us could have ever predicted. However, with all of this uncertainty, there is one thing we know for sure; the holidays are just around the corner and that means shopping. Every holiday season brands have strategic public relations, digital and marketing plans in place to help drive traffic during this joyful time of year, but how should your brand be preparing for this holiday season because, yes, it will be unlike any other?
The first question many brands are asking is what will shopping budgets look like this year. Will holiday spending increase because people have had months of decreased spending as a result of dining out less, cancelling vacations, not needing to dress up for work? The answer is yes! Many studies have already been conducted and holiday spending is expected to increase this season! This is hopeful news for consumer brands and helps everyone heave a big sigh of relief. However, knowing that people are willing to open their wallets, the stakes are even higher to make sure you have a strong public relations, digital and marketing strategy in place that captures your audience in an appropriate manner.
When looking at the type of content your brand should be marketing, and promoting, this strategy must take into consideration where customers are today, in this moment, because that is what we know for sure. Holiday traditions will look different in 2020. People will likely not be gathering with large groups of friends and family so any content should be sensitive to this. This is not the season to show your product on a large dinner table filled with more than a few chairs, people will be enjoying the holidays in more intimate groups.
What to Promote
Food consumption will look different this holiday season. The money that many have saved not dining at restaurants has been going towards food at home. People have gotten more creative and experienced in the kitchen. Baking has been one of the most popular pandemic activities for many so we can expect to see this continue to be a trend during the holiday season when many were already baking. With group dinners being smaller that means products for the home to help dress up the holiday dinner table are less of a necessity this season.
Since many won’t have the opportunity to spend the holidays with loved ones, gifting will be even more important this season to show your loved ones, who have been there for you through these difficult few months, that you are still thinking about them even if you cannot physically be with them. In terms of gifting trends, we are seeing more focus on value gifting including items that are personalized, handmade and eco-friendly with trending priorities including wellness, home improvements, and more.
Where to Drive Customers
One of the biggest trends we have seen throughout 2020 and we know will continue throughout the rest of the year is people staying in their homes more than ever. Knowing this, e-commerce will continue to be the key revenue driver for brands throughout the holidays. With many stores having to close their doors for months on end, customers have gotten used to ordering their everyday needs from the comfort of their home – realizing that they really can fulfill all their shopping, in their sweats, on their couch. With this habit not changing any time soon, it is important that brands have a strong e-commerce presence, product readily in stock and the ability to be delivered in a timely fashion. Your public relations agency should be focused on securing media placements that drive to your direct to consumer website and online retail stores, this means targeting digital publications. Print publications have already closed their holiday issues, so digital is key in these final weeks of 2020.
As it relates to your social media strategy, all content should be focused on where customers can purchase your product online and how your product fits into consumers’ needs in the current climate. In addition to the content on your own social media channels promoting your direct to consumer and online retail partners, influencer partners can also help spread this messaging in an organic manner. Influencers have a loyal base of followers who trust what they have to stay and the products they support. With influencers you can immediately access an engaged audience that is far more likely to pay attention to what is being promoted, reviewed or recommended. Your digital agency should target influencers who not only have strong engagement, but those who frequently incorporate Instagram story swipe ups in their content. Swipe up’s allow brands to be more tactical with their influencer partners content. They have been shown to generate even more clicks and conversations, and thus are shown to ramp up traffic and sales. You can include swipe up links on your own channels as well!
With a clear idea of where to direct your customers this holiday season, it is important to look at the tone of your content. The holiday season has always been filled with joy and cheer, but brands will need to approach their messaging this season cautiously. Many will be filled with sadness as they may not be able to spend the holidays surrounded by loved ones, ring in the New Year with their group of best friends or plan that tropical vacation to escape the blistering winter months. With this in mind lead with empathy and values.
Now that we have an idea of what your public relations, marketing and digital strategy should look like, when is the best time to start rolling it out? It is safe to say that typical seasonal definition is out the window this season, not too hard to believe when Starbucks rolled out their Pumpkin Spice beverages in August. Holiday shopping is starting earlier –the middle of summer while people were still rocking t-shirts and tank tops! Recent research has shown that customers are planning to start their holiday shopping by Halloween.
While this is a year like we have never experienced before, we can take what we have all learned thus far in 2020 and use this to our advantage to end the year strong.
Warmest wishes for happy holidays and a happy New Year!
– Lauren Newhouse