The 2023 holiday season is shaping up to be a mixed (gift) bag of discounts, savvy spending, and shifts in consumer behavior. From bustling US malls to charming European markets, shoppers are adjusting their spending habits in light of inflation and rising living costs. But the frosty economic climate hasn’t dampened their overall enthusiasm for festive shopping, with Americans remaining optimistic about the upcoming season, according to McKinsey.
Across the pond, Europe might have experienced a dip in retail sales last year due to sky-high energy costs, but with inflation expected to ease, there’s a twinkle of hope for a jollier yuletide! Much like last year, however, discounts remain the key to unlocking sales, as price-sensitive shoppers hunt for the best deals and value-friendly brands -- while saving room for the occasional luxury splurge. In this competitive landscape of holiday marketing, awash with promotions, brands will have to pull out all the stops to secure their share of consumers' wallets.
Read our full Holiday Marketing Guide here after you digest the strategies below!
6 Holiday Marketing Strategies Unwrapped
The holidays are fast approaching – and for marketers, then, 'tis the season to...
1. Deck The Halls With Data: Adopt A Seasonal Full-Funnel Approach…. Early!
A massive 57% of consumers are already scouting for pre-holiday discounts, and there's an ever-increasing number shopping for gifts all-year-round. So how do brands catch their eye? By starting promotions ahead of schedule, supercharging their social content, and stepping up their email and SMS game. SMS in particular boasts an impressive 98% open rate in the UK, massively outperforming paid social and display ads. Holiday promotion ideas include coupons, rebate offers, giveaways, and reward-based games to encourage voluntary opt-ins.
Cadbury UK’S Secret Santa: During the 2022 winter holidays, Cadbury's ‘Secret Santa Postal Service' allowed 120,000 UK residents to gift free chocolates to loved ones by locating campaign posters and scanning QR codes. Besides spreading festive joy, the gamified campaign gathered useful data on givers, recipients, locations, and product preferences!
2. Dash Through Holiday Sales: Make Shopping Omnichannel & Optimized For Speed!
The 2023 holiday season is set to ride the omnichannel shopping wave, as 81% of consumers prefer the speed and flexibility this approach offers. Complex checkouts and slow-loading sites are a deal-breaker for most shoppers, especially for Gen Z and Millennials who would rather zip through purchases than wade through variety. And with mobile accounting for a majority of 2022's key holiday sales, a mobile-first strategy is essential – that means enabling social shopping as well! Instagram may currently lead, but TikTok is fueling the expected 29.8% growth in social commerce in 2023. And brands, keep a keen eye on the potential of shoppable livestreaming and programmatic digital OOH campaigns, both offering quick, scalable, and targeted holiday marketing options.
Bloomingdale’s Livestream: Bloomingdale’s dipped its toe into livestream commerce during the 2022 holiday season, with a six-week, 10-episode holiday shopping series. The events focused on gift-giving and styling during the holiday season, offering real-time shoppable content and virtual fashion and shopping advice from host-sellers.
3. Spruce Up The Aisles: Leverage Immersive Tech To Enhance The Holiday Retail Experience!
Imagine a shopping experience that's not just an errand, but a festive adventure that enhances the customer experience – and also boosts sales! Brands are harnessing digital innovations like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and the metaverse to craft these kinds of immersive experiences for shoppers, with a particular appeal to the digitally-native Gen Z. Retail outlets can weave in their own touch of enchantment with holiday-themed displays and activations, and by embracing 'Phygital' retail trends that blend physical spaces with digital add-ons. These tech enhancements can surprise and delight customers, enabling them to visualize products in their personal environments or virtually try on clothes or makeup, potentially leading to a decrease in returns. And the metaverse is opening up unprecedented marketing possibilities for personalized engagement and memorable experiences, allowing customers to "live the brand" and build loyal communities around Web3 technology and NFTs.
Lacoste UK’s Superheroes AR/NFT Campaign: Lacoste's 2022 holiday campaign took innovation to new heights with a two-day, AR-infused extravaganza in London. Upon registration, players were gifted two NFTs and a virtual wallet, catapulting them into an immersive AR treasure hunt. Stumbling upon NFT drops unveiled interactive AR adventures, rewarding players with lavish prizes. The nationwide NFT access meant anyone across the UK could join the festive hunt and secure a Christmas gift from Lacoste. Plus, the AR game was just a QR code scan away on digital displays in major UK cities.
4. Rock Frictionless Purchase & Fulfillment: Keep Inventory, Delivery, And Returns On Track!
As the holiday shopping season roars into full swing, it's crucial for brands and retailers to flawlessly deliver on their promises to maintain customer trust. With 2023's unpredictable consumer behavior and economic waves, being quick on your feet is no longer just an advantage -- it's a survival tactic, especially for smaller brands looking to spruce up their festive operations. Key strategies to navigate this season include the deployment of AI in inventory management, allowing for swift and accurate restocking during high-traffic shopping periods. The simplification of payments is another smart move, with one-click and Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) options gaining traction thanks to services like Apple Pay Later. Also, accommodating the rising trend of Buy-Online-Pick-Up-In-Store (BOPIS) fulfillment can give brands a competitive edge. And let's not forget the post-holiday return wave! Ensuring a frictionless return process is paramount, as customers are more inclined to stick with brands that make returns hassle-free.
5. Reward Those Who’ve Been ‘Nice’: Maximize Loyalty Programs!
In the face of 2023's inflation and cost-of-living challenges, brands have a golden opportunity to supercharge their loyalty programs as a beacon of support for their members. With a significant half of Americans—millennials leading the charge—considering these programs more important than ever, and 61% of Europeans holding membership in at least one program, the potential to make a meaningful impact is considerable. Importantly, these programs do more than just fuel sales with discounts and promotions, they're also a treasure trove of willingly provided data in an era where consumers are wary of sharing personal information with companies. This holiday season, brands can play Santa and strategically hand out rewards to their loyal customers: How about giving VIP members an exclusive pass to early sales and experiences? Or luring customers with members-only deals? For those with a keen eye on their budgets, tethering gift cards to loyalty points could be a game-changer. And don’t forget the power of fun—gamifying experiences with giveaways and sweepstakes can keep customers engaged and excited.
Tesco Clubcard: Tesco's Clubcard loyalty program was a holiday lifesaver last season. Members racked up points all year on every £1 spent in-store or online and every £2 on fuel. Cash could even be turned into bonus-boosting vouchers. As the festive season approached in November, these vouchers landed in accounts, ready to be spent on groceries, fuel, gifts or even tripled when redeemed for fun outings or spa experiences with Clubcard Rewards partners.
6. Give The Gift Of Giving: Inspire Generosity With Value-Driven Holiday Marketing!
Brands looking to win over value and price-driven shoppers need to tap into what truly motivates them. A study by Landor & Fitch found that nearly a third of UK shoppers (29%) are attracted to brands that blend bargains with a dose of philanthropy during the holiday season, infusing a wave of positivity into their shopping experience. But here's the catch - this feel-good factor isn't something that can be fabricated. Brands need to genuinely champion causes close to people's hearts, such as diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability.
The 2022 Deloitte Holiday Survey revealed that environmental considerations are increasingly steering holiday shopping habits, with many gift-givers opting for sustainable gifts and retailers committed to protecting the environment
Brookfield Properties Holiday Charity: Brookfield Properties partnered with Feeding America and Snipp, turning holiday shopping into a charitable act. For every $200 spent at selected outlets, Brookfield committed to donate $20 to Feeding America. Shoppers could easily contribute by simply uploading their receipts online.
Develop a differentiated holiday marketing strategy to sleigh the competition!
As we ring in the festive cheer this year, businesses undoubtedly face a challenging trio of obstacles: rising costs, tightening margins, and thrifty consumers. These hurdles emphasize the importance of solid holiday marketing strategies, not just for a seasonal sales boost, but to cultivate enduring customer loyalty that fuels success beyond 2023. Armed with our suggestions, brands can confidently navigate through an especially competitive holiday marketing landscape and not just survive, but 'sleigh' the competition!
Read our full Holiday Marketing Guide here!