Shopping mall at Christmastime

Holiday Shopping Changes with the Times

Holiday shopping season is upon us. For marketers (and holiday shoppers), that means preparing for a few pieces of news that can affect the season. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping deals ingrained across the country, brand one-upping is the new standard. Additionally, shoppers arm themselves with more information than ever and expect more out of the omni-channel experience.

Holiday Catalogs Get a Makeover

Consumers are no longer satisfied with simply viewing a catalog and purchasing something over the phone. Today’s shopper seeks catalog integration with a branded mobile app, especially one that allows click to buy or provides more information. Also, tie-ins with other gifts—such as children’s toy catalogs providing tie-ins with mobile games—are also on the rise. While the holiday catalog isn’t going anywhere just yet, we can certainly expect it to continue shape-shifting into a more versatile piece. Be ready to adapt any traditional print pieces to be multifaceted; even adding campaign hashtags can make your material resonate.

The Price Isn’t Final

Two words will reshape your holiday shopping this year—price matching. Whether you take advantage of your credit line’s price matching or shop at the multiple stores that offer those services, it will certainly be a game to see who gets the lowest price. Target makes the bulls-eye offering online, as well as in-store price matching with other major retailers throughout the entire holiday season. While it may not be worth haggling over a few dollars, big-ticket items can be scored at major discounts throughout the season.

Black Friday Is Not What It Used to Be

Not everyone pounds the mall pavement during Black Friday. Black Friday is no longer the starting point for holiday shopping. Marketers are beginning holiday campaigns earlier every year, with some launching as early as September. A study from Google shows that 48 percent of shoppers finished their holiday shopping BEFORE Cyber Monday in 2014. When looking forward to your 2016 marketing plans, it’s never too early to think about your holiday campaign. With media buying usually taking place six months in advance, it really is the sooner the better. Also, don’t be afraid to think outside the holidays themselves.

And while some companies have made it their mission to make Black Friday a more chaotic event than the year before, some are going the other route and simply opting out of the event. REI made headlines announcing it will remain closed and pay its employees not to work on Black Friday. This tags onto their larger campaign #OPTOUTSIDE that encourages people to get outdoors and spend time with family. Many view it a better holiday message than a stampede over discounted TVs. Promoting family togetherness is not only appreciated by customers, but it also boosts employee morale. Think about alternatives and how the right campaign can boost sales in a better way than a one-day blowout.

While Black Friday might not be the end all be all, Small Business Saturday is continuing to solidify its mission. It’s no longer a once-a-year event, as throngs of people are opting to shop local all the time. The resurgence of the main street USA shopping experience in conjunction with thriving mom and pop stores have everyone rethinking the support of big box chains. Even if you aren’t a small business, having a visible face in your community is important.

Research Makes Brand Loyalty a Thing of the Past

With the vast amount of competition, brand loyalty might be a thing of the past. While there are certainly going to be consumers who are steadfast fans, many consumers are going to be quick to jump on deals and new brands. More than half of consumers are open to making their purchases from a new company. This is great news to new retailers and the underdog looking to get their share of the market.

One thing we know for sure is shoppers are doing their research. Last year, 78 percent of holiday shoppers researched online prior to making their final purchase. Additionally, consumers flock to peer-to-peer product videos online. What that means for us as marketers is we need to continue providing quality content and value, and to remember that brand ambassadors can be the biggest assets to your brand.

Final Thoughts

Whether you need to revamp your holiday promotions or are just looking for ways to shop smarter, it’s all relative. What are your thoughts on Black Friday? Would you like more brands to #OPTOUTSIDE? What would you like to see from brands this holiday season?