Christmas is a time where retailers ramp things up; spend on marketing, advertising and procurement increases, and the need to go all-out to outdo the competition is palpable. So, how can brands stand out? And what needs to be done to attract consumers?
Here are some things to consider.
Every retailer’s first course of action should be to look back at last year’s performance, understand what worked well and what didn’t, and then figure out how to refine their approach.
However, consumer habits are evolving quickly, so the lessons of 12 months ago may not be reflective of the current situation, especially given the various curveballs we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. So, businesses must therefore think about how they can shape consumer habits and beliefs by testing new tactics and strategies, while also remaining mindful of what has been successful in the past.
As highlighted by McKinsey, the pandemic ‘forced’ consumers to move away from engrained behaviours, which led them to discovering, and often being impressed by, experiences they previously wouldn’t have even considered – with 75 percent of US consumers reportedly trying a new store, brand, or different way of shopping during the pandemic. This means brands are in a unique position to not only reach new customers, but can ‘reinforce and shape behavioral shifts to position their products and brands better for the next normal’.
Give customers what they’re looking for
It seems like an obvious point to make, but the more you know about the intent of your customers, the more accurately you’ll be able to appeal to them. If brands have the capacity to assess past consumer behaviour—products previously viewed or bought, for example—then they’ll be well positioned to tailor customer journeys on an individual basis. These people can then be targeted with personalised marketing, via multiple channels, that they’re likely to engage with.
Research by Accenture has found that 91 percent of consumers are more likely to shop with a company if they provide offers, discounts and recommendations that are tailored to them, while almost three in four shoppers (72 percent) say that they will only engage with messaging if it’s personalised.
Delight and surprise
If brands are able to understand their consumers, and know what they appreciate, it becomes far easier to provide them with deals and discounts that they’ll both value and make use of. It also provides the perfect opportunity to exceed their expectations, which will have the dual benefit of increasing sales and bolstering loyalty.
Perhaps you could offer a new deal every day of December, enter every shopper into a prize draw (in exchange for their email address, maybe), or have a brand-specific equivalent of Black Friday, where for a 24-hour spell everything on the site is discounted and all purchases are guaranteed to arrive before Christmas Day. These are, of course, just three basic ideas – there are almost endless possibilities for retailers willing to think a little differently.
It’s not just about the products
Having a ready supply of items that consumers want is, obviously, vital (though it has proven particularly challenging this year!), but there are other things to think about. Increasingly, consumers want to form an emotional attachment to the retailers they shop with; they want to feel as though, by supporting a brand, they’re doing something positive.
Christmas is the perfect time for brands to push out messages showcasing what they’ve done over the last 12 months that they’re especially proud of. If you’ve increased levels of recycling, made changes to make operations more environmentally friendly, donated to charities, minimised waste, or taken steps to be more considerate and pragmatic—however you want to define it—then talk about it.
Research has found that four out of five people favour brands that are sustainable, while more than half of shoppers say they’d be happy to pay a premium for products sold by companies that have prioritised sustainability. There are an abundance of benefits associated with going green—Accenture recently found that companies with a focus on sustainability perform 2.5x better than those that don’t—so there’s really no reason not to tell your customers.
Be genuine, be honest, and don’t be afraid to show pride in the work you’re doing – across the full spectrum of owned channels, as well as via PR.
Always think about added value
It’s never a bad thing to think about how to give loyal consumers a little bit extra. Maybe you could provide them early access to sales, or give them the opportunity to offer feedback around what initiatives they’d like to see your brand commit to in the future. For product-led DTC brands, you might even want to give customers the opportunity to vote on priority product drops or releases.
Going the extra mile showcases that you value your customers. It’s an effective way of getting them to shop with you time and again, of convincing them to shop with you over the Christmas period (and into the January sales), and could mean they refrain from going to one of your competitors.
There’s no one definitive solution when it comes to standing out at Christmas; if there was, everyone would already be doing it! It takes a concerted effort, an ability to harness data, a desire to go above and beyond to impress consumers, and a willingness to think outside the box, to put your brand in the best position to take advantage of the festive season.
It’s also worth, at this point, taking a moment to think briefly about next Christmas. It may seem a little premature, but if you’ve concluded that your brand could be doing more in terms of obtaining and making use of consumer data, and you want to enhance your levels of personalisation ahead of Christmas in 2022, now’s the time to start. If you’ve missed out in 2021, ensure that you’re not in the same position in 12 months.