Not ready with your full holiday program yet? No worry. Consumers are changing so fast and the mood is so tricky this year -- think COVID-19, canceled traditions and lighter wallets -- that the closer to holiday events you can time messaging and offer development, the better.
This holiday season is going to be more personal than commercial. For many, the ultimate gift is being together, however that’s achieved. People are preparing to create new traditions on the fly with virtual gift giving, religious ceremonies, and even New Year’s parties. Many will do things that used to be done for them, like making their own Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving) dinners and holiday treats.
That’s a giant, just-in-time opportunity for brands. Given the prevalence of real-time sentiment tools and a new speed in content production, many will be able to take advantage of it.
Emphasize everyday luxuries. Most people are delaying big purchases such as cars, opting instead to get by with what they’ve got until the future looks brighter. They’re putting off dream vacations in favor of day trips and home time. And they’re adopting a DIY mentality that extends to making instead of buying gifts. The nature of a treat is changing, so everyday brands have a chance to be special.
Diversify the promotion mix with more, smaller efforts. The big holiday campaign with a broad theme will miss a divergent consumer base. So, good thing you didn’t create one. Think niche and nimble, like Friendsgiving and New Year’s at-home ideas, recipes and delivery offers on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest that offer respite from America’s supercharged political argument.
Emphasize engagement, not reach. Redirect traditional TV and radio buys into digital audio and video where you can communicate one-to-one. For example, support at-home (vs. in-store) browsing with brand recipe ads on digital audio within 10 miles of a given store.
Match the mood, or at least honor it. COVID has isolated and depressed people, while the election has divided them. There’s no middle ground, and any brand message is open to over-interpretation and politicization. Combine social listening tools with flash surveys to make sure the message matches the tenor of the week.
Resist the urge to force a cause. If your brand has a political stance, join the fray. For most, brand protection means a hiatus from TV and social media this season, and putting brand ads in lifestyle media and retail sites and stores instead.
People are looking to eliminate, not add, brands in their lives. They’re simplifying. So, brands need to get on the necessity list. That has everything to do with how a brand contributes ideas and connections to help people reshape their holiday experiences.