Updated: Feb 21
2020 has been full of nothing but surprises. Businesses, both small and large, have been impacted by the coronavirus and many emergency marketing plans have been activated and created! As we near the last quarter of the year and year-end planning goes into overdrive, we also enter the “season of giving”. This year, consumers may not be as generous as in previous years. What will this mean for your business? In the spirit of not only planning ahead but also with a giving spirit, the Encounter Your Potential team has compiled tips and tricks for holiday marketing during COVID-19.
How has COVID-19 impacted consumer behavior and spending?
To develop your holiday marketing plan, you first have to understand your customers’ current behavior. According to Google, in May of 2020 e-commerce was up 70% year-over-year and reached $82.5 billion in the U.S. This showed us that consumers were confidently spending more of their income online than in previous years. In-store shopping which was previously a form of entertainment and leisure translates online as “transactional and intentional”, according to the National Retail Federation. We see this intentionality as consumers are now shopping in bulk to decrease trips and long-distance traveling.
Spending has not been the only fiscal change consumers have undergone. Millions of Americans have filed weekly unemployment since the start of the quarantine order.
As seen in the graph above, in the United States, unemployment rose over 7 percent from 2019 to 2020. This ultimately means consumer’s disposable income is tight and their holiday savings may be spent on necessities over desires.
Predicted consumer Behavior for Holiday 2020 — What to look out for?
What to be aware of?
According to NRF, in 2019, holiday sales were up 4.1 percent with consumers spending a total of $1,048 on average for items such as decorations, candy, and gifts as well as other purchases for themselves and their families. We expect that home decor will continue to be an expense for families especially as more time is spent at home and as social gatherings move home-bound and become more intimate. Etsy says it is expecting a bigger focus on home decor due to DIY decorating becoming more popular amongst the upcoming holidays. Also, something to note for small businesses: according to the Wall Street Journal, the UPS has announced it will be increasing its shipping costs this holiday season. So, if you’re a small business who outsources with UPS or other major shipping companies, update your expenses for the holiday season.
McKinsey & Company research shows that “consumers have tried a different brand or shopped at a different retailer during the pandemic. Value, availability, and quality or organic products were the main drivers for consumers trying a different brand.” How many people can relate to going to the grocery store and not seeing your go-to brand of toilet paper, etc and picking up whatever was available?
The below graph shows how customers’ shopping behaviors have changed.
As previously shared, consumers are increasingly shopping online to limit travel and exposure to the virus. District schools, universities, and colleges have opted for virtual learning for the first semester of the school year, so students are spending more time online -- and also exposed to more advertisements. Lastly, predicted consumer behavior will be affected by the election. According to Epsilon Abacus, “during the 2015-2016 election season, sales dropped 9% weeks prior to the appointment.”
Solutions: What to do to get ahead of and prepare for Holiday 2020?
1. Boost your online presence with an updated website.
Consumers react to the presentation, the speed, and the accessibility of websites. Updating your header, images, products, and even FAQs can take your business a long way during this holiday season. We’ve seen that consumers are more likely to shop online, so make sure your website is appealing to the eye. During the holiday season, your website traffic will triple and increased agility will be needed to accommodate consumers and sales. Ensure that the speed of your website is able to handle the influx of traffic and that it runs smoothly and is able to handle multiple purchases at a time.
2. Diversify your online sales presence.
Outsourcing your products to retailers such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy in addition to your own website will help your business this holiday season. These additions can allow consumers to access products in multiple ways; furthermore, since products can be linked, diversifying your portfolio can increase traffic to your website.
Also, social media’s “click to buy” is a resourceful way to send consumers to your website. Linking products to social media posts create accessibility and easily allows consumers to view prices and make purchasing decisions.
3. Make sure your business appears across search results.
According to Google, there are 40,000 searches taking place each second! Yes, each second. This means that each second of the day presents an opportunity for 40,000 new people to find and locate your business. If you’re offering online shopping, search engine optimization (SEO) will be your business’ best friend.
SEO involves making changes to your content and website to ensure that your website appears in top Google searches. Check out this SEO Starter Guide from Google to help place your business at the top of search results. If you’re offering in-store purchasing, consider updating your Google My Business profile. This can ensure consumers know your holiday hours, can view photos of your business, and can also read reviews left by other consumers.
4. Revise your strategy by changing your marketing message.
COVID-19 is still affecting millions of people around the world. As the holiday season is a time for giving, developing a more empathetic marketing campaign could strengthen sales. For example, watch Apple’s memorable stay home ad campaign:
Look into influencer marketing. Influencers have been home and creating more content than ever before. From platforms like TikTok and YouTube to Instagram and Snapchat, influencers have created a more subtle approach to consumers than standard advertisements. Forbes found that Instagram influencers have achieved “an average increase in likes of 67.7% and a more than 50% increase in comments.”
Lastly, ensure your marketing message aligns with holidays and occasions. Here are the major holidays to remember: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. However, within those holidays are occasions such as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Veterans Day. Due to the heavy switch to e-commerce, it is going to be imperative for businesses -- especially small businesses -- to plan ahead this holiday season.
Get ahead of the chaos of last-minute shopping and low inventory. Get ahead of website crashes and returns. Get your business ahead of the COVID holiday season.
Need help creating an emergency marketing plan and or your end of year marketing strategy? Contact us and let us help you Encounter Your Potential, info@EncounterMPR.com.