The holiday shopping season is upon us. This guide shares insight into the evolution of holiday marketing and how to adapt. The holidays are a time to celebrate, take a step back and reflect on the year that has passed. But not if you run a marketing agency. Holidays are the busiest time for any agency, especially if they have B2C clients. While everyone is planning vacations by setting up “out of office” emails, you need to roll up your sleeves and set up new campaigns. For most of your clients, this two month period will make or break their business for the year. The pressure on agency-side marketers, naturally, is immense. So, in this article, we're going to take a deep dive into holiday marketing. We'll share what works, what doesn't, and what you can do to ensure your customers have a great holiday season. How holiday marketing is changing All marketing is changing rapidly, but holiday marketing is changing more than most. Blame it on the immense competition for customer attention at this time of year, or the incredible budgets brands are shelling out, but a successful holiday marketing campaign in 2019 seemsBlame it on the immense competition for customer attention at this time of year, or the money brands are willing to shell out for innovative campaigns, but a successful holiday marketing campaign in 2019 is very different from 2015.
This is especially true in digital media where new trends can emerge out of nowhere. Snapchat would be the main course on your menu in 2015 if you wanted to be hip and relevant, but in 2019 you'll have to switch to TikTok. Let's take a look at some of the biggest shifts in holiday marketing right now:1. Black Friday is now a global phenomenon Black Friday is still the biggest shopping day of the year (unless you're in China - we'll talk about that later), but it's far from a US-only affair in 2019. . As Hult University points out, global interest in Black Friday has grown by an average of 117% over the past five years. There is an increase in traffic and sales across Europe on Black Friday, as Criteo research shows. What is driving this change? The increasingly global nature of retailers, for one. Amazon is now present in most major European markets. Walmart owns a majority stake in India's largest e-commerce company, Flipkart. As retailers - and the customers they serve - become increasingly global, expect US-based shopping days like Black Friday to continue to b2b database grow. Which also means that... 2. Black Friday is becoming less and less relevant The reason Black Friday became such a massive phenomenon in the first place was that it was a singular event. You can always be sure to get the best deals possible that day, no matter what part of America you are in. But with month-long sales leading up to Black Friday and mega discounts on Cyber Monday, Black Friday is no longer that once-in-a-lifetime event. In 2017, for example, shoppers spent $3.5 billion online on Black Friday. But they also spent $2.9 billion on Thanksgiving, thanks to deep discounts on offer. As Nasdaq retail analyst Josh Elman points out: "The very idea of Black Friday and Cyber Monday...is becoming less and less relevant as the consumer is generally used to getting bargains." Indeed, instead of a single day, Black Friday turns into a month-long sales event leading up to Christmas. You will need to adjust your advertising budgets accordingly. 3. Remember Singles Day While Black Friday is going global, the reverse is also happening: international shopping festivals are coming to America. Take the very popular Singles Day in China (November 11 or 11/11) as an example. This day celebrating singles has already eclipsed Black Friday as the biggest shopping event in the world (in GMV – Gross Merchandise Value). China's Singles Day retail sales total eclipsed Black Friday and Cyber Money combined (Image source: Forbes)This growth was driven, in part, by US consumers. In 2018, they spent $1.82 billion on Singles Day, some of it in the US, some at Chinese retailers. American companies have also jumped on the phenomenon.
Brands as varied as L'Occitane and Kenneth Cole offer discounts, often related to the theme of the event (like "11% off"). If you want to stay globally relevant, maybe it's time to consider4. Dropping Holiday Sales May Be a Viable AlternativeIt may have been sacrilege a decade ago, but more and more businesses (and their customers) are asking themselves: is the holiday rush, especially on Black Friday, necessary? Look at it from the customer's point of view. As I already mentioned above, Black Friday discounts now extend for whole weeks or even months. There's no real reason to rush to the store to buy this latest TV; you might as well get it a month later for almost the same price. The in-store experience around Black Friday itself leaves a painful taste in your mouth. Customers may walk away with a deal, but they also walk away with a weaker perception of the brand. As Bain's research notes, the brand's Net Promoter Score (NPS) drops during the holiday season rush, indicating that customers are dissatisfied with the brand experience. Since millennial consumers care more about the experience than the product (3 out of 4 millennials prefer experiences to products), the damage to your brand experience may be irreversible. The situation is much worse from a commercial point of view. The holiday rush is wreaking havoc on supply chains and inventory management. When you have to process a month of orders in a single day, it can leave your employees overworked and unsatisfied. The net impact on your company culture is entirely negative. It doesn't help that non-price based promotions don't seem as effective anymore in the age of free shipping and Amazon Prime. You will have to take a financial hit if you want people to come to your store. As Denise Lee Yohn points out in Harvard Business Review:“By adjusting their marketing, sourcing and inventory management, retailers can free themselves from the daunting task of meeting unpredictable demand during an intense period and instead deliver a more customer-centric experience to their shoppers.”
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