The holiday season has always held the ability to make or break the year for retailers. A successful holiday blitz can mean the difference between finishing the year in the red or in the black.
Not since the Great Depression has that statement rung so true.
This holiday season, it’s critical for retailers to grab shoppers’ disposable income by marketing effectively on every channel to Millennials, Gen Zers, Gen Xers, and more. While each demographic group has unique shopping triggers, what remains true across all of them is that retailers must tell their story consistently on every channel to be top of mind for purchasing decisions.
Today, it’s not enough to be on every channel. Brands must be omnipresent. And not just omnipresent, but consistently authentic, meaningful, and self-aware. It’s a tall ask, but it’s what retailers must do to win this holiday season.
Three tips will help you tell a consistent story that reaps sales this winter – form an emotional connection with consumers; offer items they can’t find anywhere else and that connect with their values and ideals; engage informal evangelists and micro-influencers on social channels.
Form an Emotional Connection
A record number of consumers are abandoning brands to which they were formerly loyal. They’re switching based on a variety of factors. Some, like cost, make sense given the current economic environment. Others, such as the desire to try new and different things, may come as a surprise.
Gen Z shoppers, in particular, are prone to abandon brands on a dime that they no longer perceive as sharing their values or offering unique items that make them feel set apart as individuals.
In these cases, the cost is not the determining factor. Affinity is.
In generations past, purchase decision was binary. Which brand offers me the best value for the cost? Today, it’s more about feeling.
How does this brand make me feel about my purchase?
Do I agree with their supply, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing practices?
Do they share my values?
Do they make me feel unique?
If you want to drive purchase decisions this holiday season, you need to connect with shoppers’ hearts and not necessarily their pocketbooks.
Offer Unique Items
What is the holiday season about if not finding and giving the perfect gifts to loved ones? More than other demographic groups, Gen Zers are looking for unique items more so than brand affinity.
They shop across all formats, from boutiques to online stores. In a single day, they could shop in person, on their laptop, and from within the Instagram app on their smartphones.
At every step of the journey, they don’t just watch brands or consume marketing messages; they experience them. Across America, for retailers to win this winter, they will need to offer the items their shoppers want in ways that simulate the experience of hunting for and finding rare and hidden treasures.
Engage Informal Evangelists and Micro-Influencers
In light of the fact that COVID-19 isn't going anywhere anytime soon, retailers must add social strategy to their holiday marketing efforts. People are spending more time at home consuming entertainment and gaming.
Nothing illustrates this shifting reality more clearly than the fact that Fortnite hosted a concert attended by 12.3 million people. The lesson for retailers is clear – we must go where our shoppers are and engage them effectively there.
Social media must be one of those places because that's where so many shoppers spend their time, especially in the COVID-19 era. Influencers can be particularly effective here, when used appropriately.
Celebrity influencers aren't the magic bullet they used to be. Gen Z shoppers, in particular, are leery of celebrities who have just shared their reach to the highest bidder.
Instead, they look for micro-influencers who carry on collaborative discussions with 30,000 people or less.
Instead of shifting a large amount of marketing budget to one celebrity influencer, look for informal evangelists or brand loyalists who you can partner with to reach your ideal audiences. This tactic should work with Gen Zers and others who want to know and align with who they buy from and snag the dollars of discerning and disciplined shoppers.
A Final Word
As you chase limited disposable dollars this holiday season, it will be tempting to run toward one trend after another. Resist the urge to be a chameleon this winter. Even as you develop distinct strategies for various demographic groups, remember that every person is an individual.
No two are alike.
Focus on who you are and how your customers interact with you. True customer engagement comes by how well you get to know them and how well they get to know you. Bonds are formed through relationships. Get to know your customers so well that you can anticipate their needs, wants, and aspirations and then speak authentically to them.
WRITTEN BYMary Ann O’Brien