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Holiday Season Starts Now for Brand Marketers

Even though it is the middle of June, most marketing experts agree that it is never too early for brands to start thinking about the holiday season. Roughly ten percent of retailers begin sending emails that mention the holidays in July, and that number naturally continues to increase as the calendar creeps closer to winter. Despite mid-November being roughly five months away, brands should start planting seeds in the minds of their target consumers – while preparing a strategy for the Holidays – now.

Window shopping has long been a holiday tradition. Bundled up families strolling down Fifth Avenue and making wish lists based on what Lord & Taylor, FAO Schwartz, and Tiffany’s have behind their glass is a more than familiar holiday scene. However, new technology is changing the way in which consumers go about purchasing gifts. When considering the 2014 holiday season, new forms of consumer outreach will of course come into play. Still, this doesn’t mean that the same principles for attracting attention shouldn’t be applied. It is just a matter of seamlessly integrating your brand’s holiday message over multiple channels.

Online and Brick & Mortar Working Together, Not Separately

Whether consumers are purchasing gifts in stores or shopping online, it is necessary to make sure your online brand experience is consistent with your brick-and-mortar one. The reason for this is that even if your consumers aren’t making purchases online, they are at least using it as a tool to make an informed decision. About 88 percent of shoppers bought a product in-store after researching it online during the 2013 holiday season. This means that the journey from website to store shelf must be seamless and focus on continuity, otherwise the brand risks losing a consumer’s interest and trust.

Visuals Continue to Do the Job

Visuals have already proven to be a powerful force in attracting attention, especially when it comes to Millennials. Social platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine have skyrocketed in popularity, while Facebook and Twitter have made notable efforts to incorporate more images into their content, as well.

In many ways, the aforementioned window shopping was the original Instagram. The idea was (and still is) that visual stimulation would encourage consumers to pursue what they were seeing displayed. With visual-centric strategies, particularly in the mobile space, consumers can view different types of merchandise with a swipe of their finger, as opposed to walking from store to store. Brands need to concentrate on furthering their visual capabilities through their digital presence in 2014. With the relationship between online research and brick and mortar building in strength, it would certainly behoove them to further explore these tactics, especially when considering Black Friday.

New Tools Should Complement Old School

As sexy and compelling as utilizing social media outlets to boost sales may seem, it still isn’t the best route to a consumer’s wallet – far from it, as a matter of fact. Over 40 percent of e-commerce orders originated from either organic or paid search during the 2013 holiday season. Sixteen percent came from email marketing. Meanwhile, social media lead to a paltry two percent of online orders.

This doesn’t mean that social media should be abandoned. It can be a very important component to a brand’s strategy. What it does mean is that it shouldn’t be counted on to stand alone. Using the right mix of online components can lead to a very powerful campaign. One should be used to lead into another until a purchase is made or, at the very least, a brand can create loyalty.

Getting Closer to the 2014 Holiday Season

It seems like the holiday season is starting earlier and earlier every year for marketers. Brands not only have to be prepared to reach out to consumers in November and December, but have to deal with competition that is starting to push holiday promotions up to as early as September. As this trend continues to grow, it is in the best interest of brands to put the wheels in motion as early as possible.