Lines twisting around corners, midnight deal-hunting and the frantic pursuit of the perfect bargain. For decades, Black Friday has reigned as retail’s biggest shopping day. Couple this with the rise of Cyber Monday and start up of Small Business Saturday, and “the most wonderful time of the year” can start to feel like a stressful race to the holiday shopping finish line.
Consumers are bombarded on all sides with an intense pressure to ‘buy, buy, buy.’ Among all the noise, brands seem to have lost touch with the emotional roots that make this time of year unique, but there is a lot of opportunity in a strategy that moves away from a transaction-only approach.
Put the humanity back into the holiday season with programs and promotions that delight consumers at every phase of their shopping journey. Reimagine your digital interactions, and look for ways to infuse emotion into both online and offline experiences. By refocusing efforts around emotional connections with consumers, brands can drive improved business results and shine among the slew of players clamoring for attention during this key selling season.
Extend the Dialogue and Make Someone’s Day Brighter
Today’s technology presents an equally powerful opportunity for brands to leverage customer insights and tailor more personal digital interactions.
When consumers are taking the time to communicate via chatbot or mention a brand’s name on social, brands have the opportunity to create a delightful moment and recognize the consumer individually, either by name or with personalized coupon offers, for example. Birchbox celebrates their anniversary with a customer appreciation day that revolves around individuals and puts the spotlight on their loyal consumers, instead of the company. These 1:1 connections and engagements, prompted by brands, can be powerful marketing moments that help consumers remember brands even after the busy shopping season has passed.
Kindle the Real-Life Emotion
Customer engagement doesn’t have to end once a transaction is complete. When a package arrives, opening the box itself can create a lighthearted dialogue between brand and consumer. In recent years, shoppers have taken to “unboxing,” or creating content that captures them opening and reacting to their favorite purchases, then sharing the footage on social media. Unboxing has surged in popularity across retail industries for its authenticity, capitalizing on the surprise and delight moment of opening a package for the first time.
Take this one step further by including a personalized coupon or product sample in their package for added value. Set up the excitement early and consider noting on the outside of the box, Cracker Jack style, that consumers can expect to find a special surprise inside. Note that this works best when you leverage your data to choose surprise and delight opportunities. Curate highly-relevant gifts based on past purchases, or other behavioral information you have collected over time.
Meanwhile, for consumers purchasing goods in-store, alleviate long checkout lines by creating interactive experiences to pass the time. Around the register, place signage encouraging consumers to download your app or mobile web experience for a special surprise. Once they’re there, challenge them to a branded game of trivia or a chance-to-win sweepstakes. Creating these experiences is one more touchpoint that will maximize engagement past checkout.
More to the Holidays than ‘Stuff’
The ‘buy, buy, buy’ mentality tied to the holidays makes it easy to lose sight of the real joy of the season: spending quality time with loved ones. Entertaining is a huge component of the holiday season that presents these key opportunities. Brands should consider genuine ways to insert themselves in these moments using digital tools. For example, CPG brands can launch ‘recipe repositories’ where consumers can download ideas for upcoming gatherings and share their own creations. This allows brands to show the versatility of their product line while giving party throwers a branded destination during the holiday season.
Starbucks’ red holiday cups are a great example of a holiday tradition that consumers look forward to. Longer term, consider what signature element your brand can own during the holiday season, year after year.
The holidays are about more than coming up with the biggest discount. As consumers continue to respond to more personalized, emotional connections with brands, the holidays present the perfect opportunity to inspire authentic consumer engagement. Both online and offline, a heightened focus on personalized experiences and extended connections will translate to loyal customers long after the holiday bells have stopped ringing.
Meghan Holmes is Vice President of Strategies and Insights at HelloWorld