How Can Brands Stand Out During The Most Competitive Time Of The Year?

Here are two agency answers to this question:

Alex Beazley-Long, Senior Strategist,  Imagination

While festive purchases have mostly been made online in the last few years, marketers must recognize that holiday shopping is a tradition that extends beyond simple transactions. And as more shoppers return to in-person shopping, brands must tap into these traditions to forge meaningful connections that keep them at the top of consumers’ minds.

According to Mastercard, physical retail sales will increase 3.7% this year compared to last, as consumers return to brick-and-mortar stores in the run-up to Christmas. This is without a doubt one of the busiest times of the year for brands as they compete for the coveted pot of gold -- the attention of motivated shoppers -- which is why brands must go beyond traditional marketing approaches to cut through the noise. Enter experiential marketing.

From immersive pop-up events to innovative in-store activations to captivating window displays, experiential marketing allows brands to become a part of their customers' holiday traditions and connect on an emotional level. By tapping into their desire for a little festive cheer and providing refuge from the ongoing global crises, brands have the potential not only to win over this year’s shoppers but also turn them into lifelong fans.



Jenn Szekely, president, Coley Porter Bell

Everyone raises their game during the holiday period -- brands included. But with a shaky economy and people likely spending less this year, combined with a wider variety of competitors, brands need to think beyond the traditional channels and tactics to win a share of wallets.

We’ve seen secondhand marketplaces explode recently as a result of inflation and consumers favoring the sustainability aspects. Expectations of sales through these channels are predicted to double over the next few years, according to ThredUP’s Annual Resale Report, and they will likely see strong results over the holidays. More brands may want to think about being present in these areas.

People are also spending more dollars on small businesses. Brands might want to think about some of the tactics smaller businesses use to engage customers. One of these is in-store events and experiences small businesses offer to their local communities.

We are already seeing some big brands act small, and see the value these tactics deliver. IKEA is having free gingerbread cookie decorating events, and Anthropologie and Terrain are doing holiday events that offer kids face painting.

And this is not something exclusive to in-store. Brands can virtually create buzz and engagement online through virtual experiences. J.Crew is doing an online ski chalet that will have games and scavenger hunts with prizes.

The holiday season is now longer than ever before. Some brands started holiday promotions in September and go into January. Brands need to strategize their communications and experiences over a longer period, requiring them to think differently than the normal holiday campaign duration. More content and thinking of smart ways to refresh during the holiday period will be key to avoiding fatigue.


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