Grasping The Holiday Spirit: How Brands Can Win Consumers In 2023

The holiday season is just around the corner, but consumer holiday spirit has hit a low point. With good reason: while the holidays are a great opportunity to spend time with loved ones, for many they bring financial strain.

According to a Dentsu report, 86% of consumers say they are concerned about higher prices as they approach this holiday shopping season, up from 75% last year. And 53% of shoppers expect inflation to impact their holiday celebrations, per Aki Technologies.

Budgets are tightening across the board. There are also larger spending trends to consider, like buyers prioritizing experiences over material goods. So how can brands continue to attract consumers?

The first answer is emotional resonance. Brands that make shoppers feel something get them to spend. This is nothing new, but it’s especially true when the marketplace is this competitive.

One way to get to consumers’ hearts is to convey that buyers truly care for the people they’re shopping for through the products. Personalization conveys this. Sites like Etsy offer items like cutting boards, luggage, and underwear -- all of which is customizable. Initials, full names, significant dates -- anything meaningful can be incorporated into most products. This doesn’t have to be pricey; you can personalize gifts like earrings and blankets on Amazon. This extra step differentiates your product from your competitors’.



Making gift-giving an experience is another pillar in the consumer journey. For example, sneakerheads love Nike. They want the newest drops, limited edition lines, and customized shoes. An in-store shopper customizing a shoe is an experience. An iPhone user downloading the Nike app and waiting for a drop is an experience. A TikTok user vlogging a pop-up store visit is an experience.

You can play into scarcity by launching limited-edition products, or collaborate with like-minded brands to widen your consumer base. If I were on the brand side, I’d aim to have my launch go live over Cyber Weekend, because the promise of large savings means more spending. Twenty-four percent more consumers will shop on Black Friday than in years prior, per Aki Technologies. This hits on two key strategies: striking while the iron is hot, and using timeliness to increase shopper interest.

In times of economic uncertainty, luxury brands (excluding fashion) and value brands typically do well. That’s because top earners still spend, and value brands are always a priority. But brands in the middle are in trouble: if you don’t provide an undeniable value to consumers, like Costco, you could end up in what I call the “sea of sameness.” Many marketers struggle to leave the sea of sameness, because it’s easy to do what everybody else does.

Instead, take an against-the-grain approach -- in package design, campaign elements, and any reasonable way you can. Many business people want predictability, and it’s tough to say “we can’t do that because our competitors already are.” It’s scary, but you have to take that leap -- especially if you’re not the market leader and you’re a middle-priced item.

While the consumer landscape currently has a bleak outlook, there are tried-and-true strategies to stay a cut above the rest. To me, it’s obvious: collaborations, personalization, and experiences are all key to ensure your brand wins this holiday season.

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